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Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 to the Reverend George Austen and his wife in Hampshire, England. The sixth child of seven, Jane was educated mostly at her home although she and her sister, Cassandra, were sent away to school for several years when they were young. Austen wrote several works when she was in her teens, but her major works were written later in her life.
Although she wrote novels of romance, Austen never married. In fact, her life is considered rather dull. She had a few romantic attachments, but the one man she deemed worthy of commitment died before they could become engaged. She and her sister, also a spinster, lived with their parents the duration of their lives.
Jane Austen knew firsthand what it was like to live with a meager income because after her father died, she, Cassandra, and their mother were forced to live on a small income and the charity of her wealthy brother. For the five years after her love interest died and her father died, Austen did not write.
Once she and her family were settled at Chawton Cottage in 1809, she began writing again. Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, followed by Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Her other major novels include: Northanger Abbey (1818), Emma (1816), Mansfield Park (1814), and Persuasion (1818). The latter three of her novels were written in rapid succession in the years just before her death.
Austen's novels were met with success during her lifetime, but she published anonymously, so she had no real fame. On July 18, 1817 Jane Austen succombed to Addison's disease and died in her sister's arms.
Austen is regarded as one of the finest woman writers of her time. Her work is most well-known for the way she makes her characters seem so realistic, the way she explores the nuances of relationships, and the way she makes fun of the trends and attitudes of her era.
World Literature Criticism declares that "for all their wit and good humor, Austen's works are deeply concerned with the moral values in life, and her satire is at its finest when aimed at the snobbish and presumptuous."
As for Pride and Prejudice, it remains one of Austen's best-loved and best-known works.
Elizabeth Jenkins said, "The celestial brightness of Pride and Prejudice is unequalled even in Jane Austen's other work; after a life of much disappointment and grief, in which some people would have seen nothing but tedium and emptiness, she stepped forth as an author, breathing gaiety and youth, robed in dazzling light."
It was her gift for making the everyday things seem interesting that made Jane Austen the highly-esteemed author that she is more than a century after her death.
"Austen, Jane." British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. eds. Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1936.
"Austen Jane." The Oxford Companion to English Literature. ed. Margaret Drabble Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1966.
"Austen, Jane." World Literature Criticism: 1500 to present. ed. James P. Draper. vol. 2. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992.
Elizabeth Bennet is a country gentleman's daughter in 19th Century England. She is one of five daughters, a plight that her father bears as best he can with common sense and a general disinterest in the silliness of his daughters. Elizabeth is his favorite because of her level-headed approach to life when his own wife's greatest concern is getting her daughters married off to well-established gentlemen. Only Jane, Elizabeth's older sister, is nearly as sensible and practical as Elizabeth, but Jane is also the beauty of the family, and therefore, Mrs. Bennet's highest hope for a good match.
When Mr. Bingley, a young gentleman of London, takes a country estate near to the Bennet's home, Mrs. Bennet begins her match-making schemes without any trace of subtlety or dignity. Despite Mrs. Bennet's embarassing interference, Mr. Bingley and Jane become fond of one another. Mr. Darcy, who has accompanied Bingley to the country, begins his acquaintance with Elizabeth, her family, and their neighbors with smug condescension and proud distaste for the all of the country people. Elizabeth, learning of his dislike, makes it a point to match his disgust with her own venom. She also hears from a soldier that she has a fondness for that Darcy has misused the man. Without thinking through the story, Elizabeth immediately seizes upon it as another, more concrete reason to hate Mr. Darcy. She contradicts and argues with Darcy each time they meet, but somewhere along the way he begins to like Elizabeth.
When Bingley leaves the countryside suddenly and makes no attempts to contact Jane anymore, the young woman is heartbroken. Elizabeth, who had thought well of Bingley, believes that there is something amiss in the way that he left Jane in the lurch. Only when Elizabeth goes to visit her friend at the estate of Darcy's aunt does the mystery begin to unfold. After several encounters with Mr. Darcy while visiting her friend, Elizabeth is shocked when Darcy proposes to her. Elizabeth refuses him and questions him about the way that he misused her soldier friend and his undoubted role in the way that Bingley abandoned Jane. Darcy writes a letter to explain himself, and Elizabeth is embarrassed to learn that she had been mislead about Darcy's character. Had she known the truth, she would have loved Darcy as he loved her. Darcy leaves that part of the country before she can sort out her feelings and make amends with him. Then she meets him again when she is touring the gardens of his estate with her aunt and uncle. Darcy treats her with kindness and she believes he may still love her, but before anything can be done about it, she learns that one of her younger sisters has shacked up with the very soldier who mislead Elizabeth and the rest of her family about Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth returns home immediately.
When the indignity of her sister's shot-gun wedding is straightened out, Elizabeth is surprised that Darcy returns to the country with Bingley. She expected that the shame of her sister's actions had ruined any chances of a relationship with Mr. Darcy, or Jane and Bingley. Elizabeth learns from her aunt that Darcy did a great part to help get her younger sister properly married to the infamous soldier. Jane and Bingley sort out the misunderstanding that drove him away before and get engaged. Then Elizabeth and Darcy work out their misunderstandings and agree to marry.
Elizabeth Bennet: Elizabeth Bennet is the second of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth is the most logical and level-headed of the Bennet daughters, and that makes her her father's favorite. Although Elizabeth is thoughtful, intelligent, and practical, she comes to realize that she is just as capable of letting her own feelings get in the way of her good sense as her feather-brained sisters. Elizabeth realizes her grave mistake when she understands that she has greatly misjudged both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham.
Mrs. Bennet: Mrs. Bennet is Elizabeth Bennet's pushy, ignorant, and embarrassing mother whose greatest aspiration is to have her five daughters married off. Mrs. Bennet does not approve of Elizabeth's logic and practicality, and Elizabeth is her least favorite daughter.
Mr. Bennet: Mr. Bennet is a country gentleman and Elizabeth Bennet's father. He has very little interest in the duties of polite society or in raising his daughters. He finds his wife and his three youngest daughters to be unbearably frivilous and silly, but Elizabeth and Jane (the oldest daughter) make him proud.
Mr. Bingley: Mr. Bingley is a wealthy, young bachelor who moves into the Bennet's neighborhood and triggers Mrs. Bennet's schemes to marry Jane off to Bingley. Bingley is fashionable, charming, and kind, but he and Jane don't get together right away because of a misunderstanding.
Lydia Bennet/Wickham: Lydia is the youngest Bennet girl, and she is the biggest flirt as well. Lydia chases the soldiers quartered in Meryton and follows along when they move to Brighton. She and Mr. Wickham are forced to marry after Lydia runs away with him expecting to become his wife although Wickham has no such plan before Darcy pays him off.
Mr. Darcy: Mr. Darcy is Bingley's best friend as well as a very wealthy, handsome, and proud bachelor. Darcy is viewed as rude and conceited by all the inhabitants of Meryton as well as Elizabeth Bennet. But through a strange course of events, Elizabeth comes to learn that she was wrong about Darcy, and they fall in love with each other.
Jane Bennet: Jane is the Bennets' oldest daughter. She is practical like Elizabeth, but she is kinder and more understanding. Jane is greatly hurt when Bingley rejects her, but she overcomes her pain and the two of them end up together.
Mr. Collins: Mr. Collins is Mr. Bennet's cousin who will inherit Mr. Bennet's estate when Mr. Bennet dies. Collins is a pastor for Darcy's aunt's parish, and he is a pushy, obnoxious man. He considers himself more important than he really is because he works for Darcy's wealthy aunt, but the Bennet family dislikes him because he is long-winded and boring.
Wickham: Wickham is a charming con-man who convinces Elizabeth that he was greatly wronged by Mr. Darcy, although things are actually the other way around. Elizabeth initially likes Wickham, but the more she learns of his true character, the more she realizes that she has been wrong. Wickham ends up marrying Lydia after they run away together and Darcy pays Wickham off to marry Lydia to save her family from disgrace.
Mrs. Gardiner: Mrs. Gardiner is Elizabeth Bennet's aunt. She and Elizabeth are quite close because Elizabeth's own mother is silly while Mrs. Gardiner is more thoughtful and practical like Elizabeth. Mrs. Gardiner suspects that Elizabeth and Darcy are falling in love with one another before the rest of Elizabeth's family has any idea. Because Elizabeth went on a vacation with the Gardiners, she meets up with Darcy again at his own estate and their relationship is renewed.
Mr. Gardiner: Mr. Gardiner is Elizabeth's uncle who takes care to try to find Lydia and Wickham when they have run away together and hidden themselves in London. Darcy works with Mr. Gardiner to anonymously arrange Lydia and Wickham's wedding so that none of Elizabeth's family will know what Darcy has done.
Miss Bingley: Miss Bingley is Mr. Bingley's younger sister. She pretends to be Jane's friend, but when she sees that Mr. Darcy is developing interest in Jane's sister (Elizabeth), Miss Bingley does everything she can to separate her brother and Jane so that Darcy and Elizabeth will not see each other. Miss Bingley is kind to Jane's face, but she makes fun of the Bennet family behind Jane's back as a way to make Darcy more interested in her and less in Elizabeth.
Mrs. Hurst: Mrs. Hurst is Bingley's older, married sister who is just as two-faced as Miss Bingley.
Charlotte Lucas/Collins: Charlotte is Elizabeth's friend. After Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins' marriage offer, Charlotte snaps him up because she wants a simple life and can't imagine that a better offer will come her way. She and Elizabeth remain friends despite Charlotte's marriage to the awful Mr. Collins.
Mary Bennet: Mary Bennet is the middle child in the Bennet family, and she is odd. She is a prudish homebody who spends her time reading scripture. She is the only one of the Bennet girls who remains unmarried.
Sir William Lucas: Sir William is Charlotte's father who has a title and pretends to be a great part of high society, but he is really no one all that special. He is kind, though, and Elizabeth appreciates that about him.
Kitty (Catherine) Bennet: Kitty is the second youngest daughter of the Bennet family, and she is not quite as bad a flirt as Lydia. Kitty and Lydia are partners in crime, but Kitty doesn't get into nearly as much trouble as Lydia.
Lady Catherine De Bourgh: Lady Catherine is Mr. Darcy's wealthy aunt and Mr. Collins' patroness. She is a pushy lady who expects everyone to appreciate and follow her advice on every topic. She and Elizabeth butt heads when Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins, and Elizabeth and Lady Catherine have a great showdown when Lady Catherine insists that Elizabeth cannot marry Darcy because she doesn't have the breeding for it.
Miss Darcy: Miss Darcy is Mr. Darcy's younger sister. Miss Darcy is quiet and shy, and she is wary because she was almost conned into eloping with Mr. Wickham, which would have been a grave mistake.
Maria Lucas: Maria Lucas is Charlotte's younger sister who goes to visit Charlotte and Mr. Collins at the same time that Elizabeth goes to see them.
Miss De Bourgh: Miss De Bourgh is Darcy's cousin and Lady Catherine's daughter. Lady Catherine has always planned that her daughter and Darcy would marry and unite their inheritance into great wealth.
Colonel Fitzwilliam: Col. Fitzwilliam is Darcy's cousin and also co-guardian of Miss Darcy, Darcy's little sister. Elizabeth likes the colonel because he is kind and enjoys her company without treating her with condescension, unlike Mr. Darcy.
Longbourn: The Bennet family estate near the town of Meryton. Longbourn will be inherited by Mr. Collins when Mr. Bennet dies.
Netherfield: Bingley's estate near Longbourn and near the town of Meryton.
Meryton: Town near Longbourn where Mrs. Phillips lives and the soldiers are boarded.
Rosings: Lady Catherine De Bourgh's estate in Hunsford. Mr. Collins has a parish near this estate, and Elizabeth visits Rosings while she is visiting Charlotte. Elizabeth is at Rosings when Mr. Darcy proposes to her and she turns him down.
Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's estate in Derbyshire. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy run into one another there while she is on a vacation with the Gardiners, and that is where they begin to rekindle their relationship.
Hertfordshire: The neighborhood, or county, where Longbourn, Netherfield, and Meryton are all located.
Hunsford: The town where Charlotte and Mr. Collins live.
Brighton: The town to which the soldiers from Meryton are moved. Lydia follows the troops there and that is when she runs away with Wickham.
Derbyshire: The county where Mr. Darcy's estate, Pemberly, is located.
Quote 1: "[i]t is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife," Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 1
Quote 2: "the business of [Mrs. Bennet's] life [is] to get her daughters married." Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 3
Quote 3: "Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, but Darcy was continually giving offence." Volume 1, Chapter 4, pg. 10
Quote 4: "the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow." Volume 1, Chapter 6, pg. 18
Quote 5: "Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society." Volume 1, Chapter 15, pg. 48
Quote 6: "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. --Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." Volume 1, Chapter 20, pg. 78
Quote 7: "It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does." Volume 2, Chapter 2, pg. 94
Quote 8: "Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing after all." Volume 2, Chapter 4, pg. 107
Quote 9: "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Volume 2, Chapter 11, pg. 130
Quote 10: "Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done." Volume 2, Chapter 17, pg. 156
Quote 11: "[t]he respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which [their encounter at Pemberley and his visit to Elizabeth] yesterday had produced." Volume 3, Chapter 2, pg. 181
Quote 12: "but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance." Volume 3, Chapter 3, pg. 185
Quote 13: "Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman." Volume 3, Chapter 9, pg. 217
Quote 14: "I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable . . . You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you certainly have no right to concern yourself in mine." Volume 3, Chapter 14, pg. 246
Quote 15: "You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever." Volume 3, Chapter 16, pg. 252
Quote 16: "You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them." Volume 3, Chapter 18, pg. 262
Quote 17: "With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them." Volume 3, Chapter 19, pg. 268
Volume 1, Chapter 6
Misunderstanding 1: Misunderstandings and crossed wires create and motivate the love story between Jane and Bingley as well as Elizabeth and Darcy. The first major misunderstanding of the story begins here when Elizabeth decides that it's best for Jane to play it cool around Bingley to protect her feelings. This lays the groundwork for Bingley to misunderstand Jane's feelings, just as Charlotte predicts that he might.
Misunderstanding 2: Darcy has changed his mind about Elizabeth, but she has no clue that this has happened. So when Darcy tries to pay her some sort of attention by following her around and eavesdropping on her conversations, she thinks that he's making fun of her. It never occurs to her that he's trying to find a way to make a move on her, so she's mean to him.
Volume 1, Chapter 8
Misunderstanding 3: Darcy is trying to compliment Elizabeth by emphasizing her preference to read as a good thing, but Elizabeth sees the comment only as Darcy's way of adding to the long list of accomplishments and skills that a woman must have to satisfy a man like him. She misunderstands him and feels that he's showing her another way in which she is inferior to him, and so she's rude to him again.
Volume 1, Chapter 10
Misunderstanding 4: Darcy is trapped in an awkward position when the Bingley sisters make it seem as if he is part of their plot to exclude Elizabeth as they are walking through the garden. When he tries to smooth things over and find a way for them to all walk together, Elizabeth tells him not to bother because she is just fine walking alone. Once again he looks as if he is trying to insult her despite his attempts to be kind to her.
Volume 1, Chapter 11
Misunderstanding 5: Darcy accuses Elizabeth of intentionally misunderstanding him because she has so often misinterpreted what he has tried to do when he's around her. Elizabeth doesn't realize that he means that, however. She thinks he's only referring to their conversation about his flaws.
Volume 1, Chapter 16
Misunderstanding 6: This is the beginning of a great misunderstanding on Elizabeth's part. She is so sure that she was correct about Darcy's snotty character that she is eager to believe this negative report about him. Wickham makes her believe that he is a good guy and that Darcy is a bad guy, and because she believes this, it takes a long time for Elizabeth to see that she is wrong about Darcy.
Volume 1, Chapter 19
Misunderstanding 7: Collins misunderstands Elizabeth's refusal. He believes that she's just playing hard to get and so he continues to court Elizabeth. Unfortunately for Mister Collins, Elizabeth's immediate refusal is quite sincere.
Volume 1, Chapter 21
Misunderstanding 8: Elizabeth and Jane have differing opinions on why the Bingleys left Netherfield, but Elizabeth is closest to right. She blames Miss Bingley, but what these ladies don't know is that Darcy was really the one behind the evacuation. He encouraged the Bingleys to leave and meet Mr. Bingley in London so that he would not return to Netherfield. Darcy did this because he thought that Jane did not care for Bingley as Bingley cared for Jane. To protect his friend, Darcy thought it best that Bingley remain in London away from Jane.
Volume 2, Chapter 10
Misunderstanding 9: What Elizabeth still doesn't know is that Darcy thought is was an unwise match because Bingley and Darcy were not sure that Jane cared for him because she behaved so calmly and distantly around Bingley. Instead Elizabeth believes that all Darcy cares about is money and status.
Volume 2, Chapter 13
Misunderstanding 10: Darcy's letter serves to clear up many of the misunderstandings that existed between he and Elizabeth.
Volume 3, Chapter 1
Misunderstanding 11: Elizabeth uses the information from Darcy's letter to clear away the misunderstanding about Darcy's character as far as her aunt and uncle are concerned. But she's still uncertain about the way he feels about her and how she feels about him.
Volume 3, Chapter 12
Misunderstanding 12: Jane misrepresents her feelings for Bingley because she doesn't want to be hurt again, but Elizabeth knows that Jane and Bingley care for each other a great deal and that the misunderstanding between them will be mended.
Volume 3, Chapter 15
Misunderstanding 13: Collins' letter to Mr. Bennet makes Mr. Bennet believes that Collins is laboring under a great misunderstanding to think that Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged. What Mr. Bennet does not yet know is that Collins is on the right track, if a little ahead of the game. Elizabeth is embarrassed at the confusion, but she does not explain to her father how she feels for Darcy.
Volume 1, Chapter 1
Pride 1: Pride plays a very important part in Pride and Prejudice because it is a constant source of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Social standing and proper etiquette were a large part of British society at this time, especially in the upper classes where fortunes were inherited and time was spent socializing, rather than working for a living. Mrs. Bennet's quest to marry off her daughters highlights the pride that was taken in a good match for a couple at that time. Mrs. Bennet's goal was to marry her daughters to men of a good social standing, preferably men a little wealthier than the Bennet family to assure their comfort and stability.
Volume 1, Chapter 3
Pride 2: Mr. Darcy is one of the proudest characters of the novel. His wealth and his manners are impeccable, but there is something about him that makes all the people of Elizabeth's neighborhood regard him as snobby. He creates this reputation for himself when he considers himself too good to dance with any of the local girls. It is taken as an insult to the entire neighborhood, and it won't be forgotten any time soon. Elizabeth, however, takes this insult very personally because she overhears him saying that she is not pretty enough for him. Elizabeth, though not as pretty as Jane, is considered very pretty by the standards of her neighborhood, and her own pride is hurt at such a comment from Mr. Darcy despite her efforts to pretend it doesn't matter what he thinks.
Volume 1, Chapter 5
Pride 3: Elizabeth and Charlotte agree that a man as accomplished and as handsome as Mr. Darcy should be a proud man. They can understand that aspect of his personality. But they don't feel that his right to his pride should give him the freedom to be rude and insulting to other people.
Volume 1, Chapter 6
Pride 4: Elizabeth is proud of her own rational thinking. It's what she considers her greatest trait. Elizabeth believes that the decisions that she makes are right, so although she considers Charlotte's suggestion that Jane acting so controlled around Bingley might cause a miscommunication, Elizabeth ultimately decides that her own plan for Jane to remain aloof until she knows Bingley better is the best plan. Elizabeth's plan also allows for Jane's protection from the humiliation of being dumped by Bingley if he turns out to be a jerk. Elizabeth doesn't want to see her sister embarrassed that way.
Pride 5: Although Darcy seems to have made up his mind about Elizabeth at the first ball, he has changed his mind about her. He's not too proud to reconsider, but she doesn't know that. She thinks that his odd way of following her around and eavesdropping is his way of making fun of her, and she is too proud to be insulted that way, so she is rude to him. Mary's embarrassing display doesn't make it any easier for Elizabeth to realize that Darcy might have developed an interest in her.
Pride 6: Darcy and Elizabeth once again butt heads. Darcy, who had been too proud to dance with anyone, is now willing and happy to dance with Elizabeth, but her pride won't let her dance with him. She doesn't like him, and she thinks that he's offering to dance with her out of pity or because he feels obligated, and she's too proud to be his charity case.
Volume 1, Chapter 7
Pride 7: Elizabeth knows that it's improper for her to walk three miles in the mud without even an escort, but she doesn't care about how it will look to the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy because she's worried for her sister's health. She knows that Jane must feel terrible about being an imposition to the Bingleys, and she doesn't want Jane to suffer alone. Although Elizabeth is embarrassed at her appearance, she knows that taking care of Jane is more important than her pride. When Miss Bingley tries to bait Darcy into talking badly about Elizabeth, she gets nowhere.
Volume 1, Chapter 18
Pride 8: Elizabeth is embarrassed by the way that her mother and her younger sisters behave at Bingley's ball. She knows that her family doesn't quite measure up to the rules and behaviors of polite society, but she prides herself on her own awareness and behavior. When her family behaves this way, she knows that they are making fools of themselves, but she can't ever seem to minimize the damage that they do. She also realizes that she and Jane may be considered crude and silly because they are part of the Bennet family despite the fact that she and Jane don't fit that description.
Volume 2, Chapter 13
Pride 9: Elizabeth realizes that her pride got in the way of her judgment where Wickham and Darcy were concerned. She was so miffed that Darcy wasn't flattering to her from the beginning that she refused to let herself see his goodness. By the same token, she was so taken with Wickham's charm and flattery that she did not see his deceit.
Volume 3, Chapter 2
Pride 10: Elizabeth seems to wish that Darcy still cared for her, but she knows that he's too proud to ever let her know if he does care for her because she refused him when he proposed to her. She's also too proud to just come out and ask him how he feels because she doesn't want to be rejected, either.
Volume 3, Chapter 12
Pride 11: Now that Elizabeth realizes how much she cares for Darcy, she knows that it is too late for them because she has wounded his pride by refusing him once and she knows that he is too proud to ever try to win her over again.
Volume 3, Chapter 18
Pride 12: Elizabeth and Darcy are both swallowing their pride and going out on a limb to admit that they are in love. They have both seen past their hasty first impressions and misconceptions to realize that they are perfect for one another.
Volume 1, Chapter 1
Status 1: Social status is an important part of 19th Century English society, and the Bennets are no different from any other family in their attempts to improve their social status, or at least to give the impression that they are high society. Mrs. Bennet's obsession with marrying her daughters off to wealthy men is a part of this absorption with social status.
Volume 1, Chapter 3
Status 2: Mr. Darcy's wealth and handsomeness make him a likely target for all single women, except that he is snobby and unapproachable. A marriage to him would greatly improve the social status of any family in the Bennet's neighborhood, but because Darcy is so rude, no one even considers the idea of pairing their daughter with him. His social status makes him seem out of reach.
Volume 1, Chapter 4
Status 3: Jane's attraction to Bingley has nothing to do with his money and everything to do with his personality. At the same time, Bingley is not stuck up or rude to Jane or her family because they are not as wealthy as he is. Just as Jane does not like Bingley for his social status, he does not dislike her because of her lack of social standing.
Volume 1, Chapter 6
Status 4: Miss Bingley is interested in landing the wealthy Mr. Darcy, so she uses every opportunity she has to point out what they have in common. She tries to get him to talk about how dull and unworthy the people and entertainment of Elizabeth's neighborhood are, but he no longer agrees with her. She expects that their common social status will be a common ground from which she and Darcy can build a romantic relationship.
Volume 1, Chapter 7
Status 5: A woman's status at this time depended solely upon the men in her life -- her guardian, be it father, brother, or husband, determined her social position. Therefore, Mrs. Bennet's concern that she and her daughters will be homeless and penniless if none of them marry well is not so silly as it seems.
Volume 1, Chapter 8
Status 6: Social status played an important part in the kind of husband that a woman could get because it determined the social circles that a person moved in. Because the Bennet girls do not have any relatives who are extremely rich or important, they will not be able to meet very wealthy men. Therefore, they will be forced to marry men of their own upper-middle class standing. Miss Bingley means this to be an insult and to make Darcy realize that Elizabeth is socially beneath him so that Darcy will lose interest in Elizabeth and pay attention to her, a girl who is in his social circle. It doesn't work.
Volume 2, Chapter 10
Status 7: Elizabeth believes that Darcy steered Bingley away from Jane because the Bennets are not a wealthy family. She thinks that status is more important to these men than love, and she despises them for it.
Volume 3, Chapter 14
Status 8: Lady De Bourgh sees a marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy as a drastic mistake because it is between two people of different social classes and financial status. Although Lady De Bourgh seemed to like Elizabeth well enough when they met, she is not pleased that her nephew, whom she intended would marry her own daughter and increase the fortunes of both parties, is now interested in a middle class girl like Elizabeth.
Volume 3, Chapter 15
Status 9: Even Elizabeth's own father finds the idea of a match between the well-monied Darcy and Elizabeth ridiculous.
Volume 3, Chapter 17
Status 10: Mrs. Bennet hates Darcy for his wealth and pride until it comes to light that he will be her son-in-law. That means a change in status for the Bennet family, and so Mrs. Bennet is now very pleased with Darcy because of the wealth and privilege he will bring to her family as a relative.
Elizabeth Bennet is one of the five daughters of Mrs.Bennet and Mr. Bennet, and she is the most practical of all the women in her family. Mrs. Bennet, very conscious of the rules of polite society, tells her husband that he must go and meet Mr. Bingley, a wealthy, young bachelor who is moving into the neighborhood. Mr. Bennet has no desire to go meet the man, but Mrs. Bennet insists that he must introduce himself to Bingley so that the family can get to know him. Everyone of this time felt that "[i]t is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife," Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 1. Therefore, Mrs. Bennet expects that Bingley may want to marry one of the Bennet daughters, for "the business of [Mrs. Bennet's] life [is] to get her daughters married." Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 3 Mr. Bennet says that he doesn't care what the proper custom is, if Mrs. Bennet wants to meet the young man, he thinks she ought to be the one making the visit. He insists that he won't oblige his wife's silly wishes, and Mrs. Bennet pouts because of her husband's refusal. She is worried that Bingley will meet someone else's daughter first, and then Mrs. Bennet will be stuck with the disgrace of five unmarried daughters.
Topic Tracking: Pride 1
Topic Tracking: Status 1
Mr. Bennet had always intended to call on Mr. Bingley, but he enjoys contradicting his wife and disagreeing with her because she is a nitwit. Therefore, he doesn't tell his wife or his daughters that he has met Bingley until the evening after he visited the young man. While they are involved in their after-dinner pastimes, Mr. Bennet announces that he has met Bingley and his wife and daughters are all very surprised and quite happy, which was his plan. Mrs. Bennet announces her prediction that Lydia, though the youngest, will be the one that Mr. Bingley dances with most at the upcoming ball, and all the Bennet girls are excited to see how things play out at the ball.
Bingley is the source of all excitement for the Bennet household as they wait for him to return their father's visit, which is the polite custom. They fully expect Bingley to accept their mother's invitation to dine at their home in the next few days as well. Things don't follow that plan, however. Although the Bennet girls catch a glimpse of Bingley as he visits their father, they are unable to see him face to face before the ball because he has to return to London to bring some of his friends to their neighborhood for the ball. The women of the neighborhood are worried that perhaps Bingley is returning with his sweetheart, but it turns out only to be his sisters, a cousin, and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Mrs. Bennet has bright hopes that one of her daughters will land Bingley, and it is with this goal in mind that she takes her daughters to the ball. Darcy is far more handsome than Bingley and he is wealthier as well, but it escapes no one's notice that Darcy is a snob. Mr. Darcy refuses to dance with any of the ladies at the ball because he does not find any of them attractive enough to dance with. Elizabeth even overhears Darcy say that she, in particular, is not pretty enough for him to ask her to dance. Elizabeth, being a good natured girl, shakes off the insult, but her dislike for Darcy remains. Bingley, however, dances with Elizabeth's older sister, Jane, twice, and the evening is considered a success by the Bennet family.
Topic Tracking: Pride 2
Topic Tracking: Status 2
Jane likes Bingley a great deal, she admits when she's alone with Elizabeth. He's handsome, charming, and kind. She also hit it off with Bingley's sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. Between Elizabeth and Jane, the only other sensible Bennet girl, the sisters cannot figure out how someone as agreeable as Bingley would be friends with the proud and rude Mr. Darcy. "Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, but Darcy was continually giving offence." Volume 1, Chapter 4, pg. 10
Topic Tracking: Status 3
Bingley is pleased with the ball and the society of the country people, but Mr. Darcy, a man more difficult to impress, is not as happy with the evening or the people. While Darcy agrees that Jane is pretty, he, like Bingley's sisters, thinks that she smiles too much. Bingley's sisters forgive Jane her smiling and think that she is sweet anyway, and Bingley feels that this is approval enough for his admiration for Jane.
The next day the Bennet's neighbors, the Lucases, come by to gab about the ball. Elizabeth's good friend, Charlotte, tells Elizabeth that she overheard Bingley say that Jane was the prettiest girl in the room. Elizabeth tells Charlotte about how she overheard the stuffy Mr. Darcy insulting her. But both women agree that a man as wealthy and handsome as Mr. Darcy does have a right to be a proud man, but that doesn't make them like him.
Topic Tracking: Pride 3
The Bennet girls and their mother all leave their home at Longbourn to make a visit to the Bingley women at Netherfield. Bingley's sisters decide that the only people of the Bennet family worth knowing are Jane and Elizabeth. Elizabeth can tell that Jane's interest in Bingley is growing, but she is also pleased to note that Jane keeps her composure around him and doesn't act boy-crazy the way that other young women behave around handsome men. Charlotte points out to Elizabeth that it might be a mistake for Jane to seem so cool around Bingley because he might not realize that Jane likes him. Elizabeth, being practical, looks at the situation logically and thinks that Jane should guard her feelings until she knows Bingley better to make sure that Jane doesn't get hurt or humiliated in front of everyone they know.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 1
Topic Tracking: Pride 4
Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy finds that after assuring all of his friends that he doesn't think Elizabeth Bennet is at all pretty, he actually does like her. But instead of talking to her, he listens in on her conversations with other people. Elizabeth notices and tells Charlotte that if Darcy eavesdrops anymore, she's going to bust him for it. No sooner does she make the statement than Darcy comes near to where she and Charlotte are talking. True to her word, Elizabeth asks Darcy what he thought of a conversation she saw him listening in on earlier in the evening. Before she can embarrass him further, Elizabeth is called away to play the piano and sing for the crowd. Her performance is good enough, but not spectacular. Then her younger sister, Mary, takes over the entertainment in a pathetic quest for attention. Since Mary is not quite equipped with the talent to be a pleasing entertainer, Mr. Bennet has to drag her away from the piano after she has completely humiliated herself and her sisters.
Topic Tracking: Pride 5
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 2
While the young people are dancing, Sir William Lucas, Charlotte's father, talks with Darcy who once again does not join the dancing. Darcy tells Sir William that he doesn't like to dance, but as Elizabeth approaches, Sir William tries to get them to dance together. Darcy would not mind dancing with Elizabeth, but she refuses. She does not like Darcy, and she does not want to be danced with out of pity or pressure. As Elizabeth walks away, Miss Bingley comes over to Darcy and tells him that she can tell that he's bored and that he hates Netherfield and the country society. But Darcy tells her that she's wrong. He's thinking about Elizabeth and "the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow." Volume 1, Chapter 6, pg. 18 Miss Bingley is unpleasantly surprised by Darcy's interest in Elizabeth, but Darcy ignores her comments and the rest of the evening passes without incident.
Topic Tracking: Pride 6
Topic Tracking: Status 4
Mrs. Bennet desperately wants her daughters to be well-settled. A large part of her obsession is that Longbourn, their home, goes to another branch of the family when Mr. Bennet dies because he has no male heir and women cannot own or inherit property. Therefore, if her daughters are unmarried, Mrs. Bennet (and the girls) will have nowhere to live.
Topic Tracking: Status 5
Lydia and Kitty, Elizabeth's youngest sisters, are fascinated by a regiment of soldiers who are stationed in Meryton, the nearby town. Mr. Bennet thinks the girls are completely silly for their fascintation with the soldiers, but Mrs. Bennet encourages their behavior, seeing it as a potential marriage.
Bingley's sisters invite Jane to have lunch with them, and Mrs. Bennet hopes for rain so that Jane will have to stay overnight at Netherfield since she is not taking the covered carriage over there. Mrs. Bennet believes that the more time Jane spends with Bingley, the better her chances for a match with him. Mrs. Bennet gets her wish, and Jane stays the night at Netherfield because of a rainstorm. The next day a note comes from Netherfield saying that Jane has taken ill and will have to stay at Netherfield longer because she is too sick to leave. Elizabeth knows that Jane must be miserable and lonely, so she walks the three miles to Netherfield to check on her sister. When she arrives, she is muddy and disheveled from the walk, and all the members of the Netherfield household are at breakfast. When Elizabeth goes upstairs to check on Jane, Miss Bingley gives Darcy a hard time because of the impropriety of Elizabeth walking all that way alone and arriving looking dirty and unkempt. Darcy ignores her again.
Topic Tracking: Pride 7
Elizabeth sees Jane and is relieved to learn that she only has a bad cold and that the Bingleys have been good to her. Bingley invites Elizabeth to stay there with Jane until she is well enough to go home, and Elizabeth agrees. Bingley's sisters come to Jane's room and sit with her all day. Initially Elizabeth does not like Bingley's sisters, but their kindness to Jane makes her think better of them, at least until dinner that evening.
Elizabeth has dinner with Bingley and his family (as well as Darcy) that evening, and she disapproves of the way that Bingley's sisters forget all about Jane as soon as they are away from her. Only Bingley seems genuinely worried about Jane, and Darcy doesn't even speak, which Elizabeth interprets to mean snobbish disinterest. When Elizabeth leaves the room, Bingley's sisters both bad-mouth her. Miss Bingley brings up again how terrible Elizabeth looked when she came over to check on Jane. She says that none of the Bennet girls will be able to marry well because they are country people and have no wealthy relations. Darcy's interest in Elizabeth is not diminished by the Bingley women's gossip, however.
Topic Tracking: Status 6
When Elizabeth comes into the parlor, she opts to read instead of playing cards and Miss Bingley makes fun of her for it. Then the two women get into a discussion about the accomplishments of ladies and what all they are expected to be able to do. Darcy, who was listening to the conversation, says that in addition to their list of knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, languages, grace, and style, a woman must also improve her mind by reading. Although Darcy is attempting to flirt with Elizabeth by referring to her preference to read, she sees his remark as further emphasizing his snobbery. She tells him that he'll never find a woman so perfect and soon leaves the room.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 3
Miss Bingley, who had been nearly edged out of the conversation between Elizabeth and Darcy, says that Elizabeth must be the kind of girl who recommends herself by downplaying those of her own gender. Darcy looks pointedly at Miss Bingley and says that most of the ways in which women try to trap men are deceitful and unpleasant. Miss Bingley lets the conversation drop.
The next day Elizabeth sends for her mother to see about Jane. Mrs. Bennet is happy that Jane isn't really very sick, but insists that Jane can't be moved yet. Mrs. Bennet makes a fool of herself in front of Bingley and Darcy and the others. Elizabeth tries to curb her mother's idiocy, but Mrs. Bennet just keeps making things worse with every word that she says. In a moment of silence, Lydia reminds Bingley that he promised to have a ball at Netherfield. Bingley agrees that when Jane is well, he'll host a ball. When Elizabeth and her family leave the room, the Bingley women make fun of them, but Darcy keeps quiet.
Elizabeth joins the Netherfield household in the parlor that night, and she and Darcy get into a playful argument, but Bingley stops the dispute because he doesn't like disagreements. The next day while Darcy is walking with Miss Bingley in the garden, she is making fun of him for liking Elizabeth when they run into Elizabeth on the path while she is walking with Bingley's other sister, Mrs. Hurst . Then, just to be rude, Mrs. Hurst links her arm through Darcy's as Miss Bingley has done so that there is no more room on the path for Elizabeth to walk beside them. Darcy tries to find a way to resolve the situation and make up for their rudeness, but Elizabeth, too proud to be pacified, tells them that she would prefer to walk alone anyway.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 4
Jane is well enough to join everyone in the parlor after dinner, and Bingley and his sisters are very kind to her, which satisfies Elizabeth. Miss Bingley keeps making plays for Darcy's attention while he is writing a letter to his sister, but he keeps brushing her off. Then Miss Bingley asks Elizabeth to walk around the room with her. Miss Bingley invites Darcy to join them, but he refuses because he claims that they're walking either to tell each other secrets, or to show off their figures, and either way he would be an intrusion. So then Miss Bingley tries to involve Darcy in witty banter, but he and Elizabeth only end up in a discussion about his pride. He admits that temper is his biggest flaw, that once his respect is lost, it's lost forever. Elizabeth interprets that to be that he likes to dislike people, and Darcy suggests that Elizabeth's flaw is that she likes to intentionally misunderstand people. Miss Bingley changes the subject because Darcy is no longer paying any attention to her at all since he is caught up with debating Elizabeth. Darcy is relieved when the argument ends because he realizes that tangling with Elizabeth can be dangerous.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 5
The next day Elizabeth and Jane want to go home, but their mother won't send the carriage because she wants Jane to spend as much time at Netherfield as possible. Despite their mother's insistence that they remain there, Elizabeth knows that they're overstaying their welcome. Bingley arranges for his carriage to take them home the next day.
Their last day at Netherfield, Darcy is careful not to show any signs of interest in Elizabeth because it makes Miss Bingley treat her horribly and annoy him with her constant attention. So Elizabeth leaves Netherfield with the same impression of Darcy that she had before she went there.
At Longbourn Mrs. Bennet is annoyed to see that the girls returned home earlier than she wanted them to, but Mr. Bennet is glad to see them.
The next morning Mr. Bennet announces that his cousin is coming to introduce himself and stay with them for more than a week. Mr. Collins is the relative who will inherit Longbourn when Mr. Bennet dies because he is the closest male descendant Mr. Bennet has. Mrs. Bennet suspects that Mr. Collins is only coming to check out his future inheritance, so she is not happy to hear about his visit. When Mr. Collins arrives, his family finds that he is a nerdy preacher who thinks very highly of himself and constantly heaps compliments on Mrs. Bennet and her daughters to the point of groveling. Elizabeth doesn't like him much because he is long-winded and conceited. Her father is amused by the man's lack of real intelligence and his constant groveling compliments and apologies that last for hours.
Mr. Bennet generally talks very little, but during dinner he leads Collins to talk about Lady Catherine De Bourgh, his patroness. Amidst his glowing descriptions of the great lady and her home, Rosings, Mr. Bennet tricks Collins into admitting that he's a suck-up without Collins ever realizing what he's done.
After dinner Collins tries to entertain the family by reading aloud, but the book he reads from is boring and Lydia interrupts him to talk about the soldiers who are quartered in Meryton. Snubbed by the interruption and the complete lack of interest in the book that he is reading, Mr. Collins refuses to read despite the Bennet family's polite request and apologies for interrupting. Instead, Mr. Collins plays backgammon with Mr. Bennet. And so a lively evening in the Bennet home passes.
The next day the Bennet girls walk to Meryton because Lydia and Kitty want to see the soldiers. Mr. Bennet sends Collins with them because the silly man is driving him crazy. "Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society," Volume 1, Chapter 15, pg. 48 and his manners were grating on the nerves. In town, Lydia and Kitty see that one of their soldier friends has a handsome, new friend, so they position themselves on the sidewalk so that the men will be forced to speak with them.
While the young Bennet women are talking to the soldier and his friend, Wickham, Bingley and Darcy ride up. Elizabeth notices that Darcy and Wickham seem to know each other, but they don't act like they're friends. Elizabeth doesn't know what to make of the situation. When the girls visit their aunt, Mrs. Phillips, she invites them and Mr. Collins to supper the next night because the soldiers and Wickham are coming over. Lydia and Kitty are excited because they want to socialize with the soldiers at every opportunity.
What Elizabeth and the other girls don't realize is that Mr. Collins has plans to choose a wife from among his cousins so that the entailment of Longbourn won't be such a difficult thing. Mrs. Bennet, learning his plan, warns him that Jane is practically almost engaged to Bingley, so Collins sets his sights on Elizabeth, but Elizabeth doesn't realize it yet.
At the dinner party at Mrs. Phillips' home, Elizabeth sits next to Wickham. He is charming and pleasant as well as handsome. They hit it off, and he tells her about how he grew up with Darcy and was a particular favorite of Darcy's father. Wickham was expected to become a minister, and Darcy's dad promised Wickham a parish at their estate, but after the man died, Darcy disregarded his father's promise and refused the parish to Wickham.
Wickham paints a dreadful picture of Darcy as a selfish and spoiled child who grew into a heartless and unjust man. Wickham also makes Darcy's young sister sound like an ungrateful brat. Wickham, in fact, taints all of Darcy's family including his rich, snobby aunt and her daughter. Wickham says that Darcy is going to marry his snobby cousin so that they can combine their two huge estates and have even more wealth all to themselves. Elizabeth buys into the whole thing, even when she learns that by some strange coincidence, Darcy's aunt is Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Mr. Collins' patroness of whom he speaks so highly.
Despite all the terrible things that Darcy has done to him, however, he vows that he will not ruin Darcy's reputation, out of respect for Darcy's father whom Wickham greatly admired. Wickham also says that he will not run away from Darcy because he has no reason to be afraid since Darcy is the one who has done him wrong. Elizabeth thinks that those are both very good ideas and that he is a noble man.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 6
Bingley and his sisters come to Longbourn to announce that they are having a ball at Netherfield, just as Bingley promised he would. All the Bennet girls are excited, and Elizabeth looks forward to dancing with Wickham all night. In her excitement, she asks Collins if he's going, and he announces that he looks forward to dancing with her during the first two dances. Elizabeth agrees out of politeness, but she is really disappointed because she wanted to save those dances for Wickham. Then it dawns on her that Collins might be considering her to be his wife, and she finds the idea repulsive.
Days later Elizabeth is disappointed when Wickham doesn't show up at the ball, but she thinks that he probably planned to be out of town then so that he wouldn't have to be around Darcy, which makes her dislike Darcy all the more. When Darcy asks her to dance, Elizabeth does not want to dance with him because it might be an insult to Wickham. But she can find no polite way to refuse Darcy, and it would be rude to let him know that she knows about how he cheated Wickham. Although she and Darcy speak little during their two dances, she manages to work in Wickham's name just to see what Darcy's response will be. Darcy tries to escape without saying much about Wickham or how he knows him. So Elizabeth takes another jab by mentioning how Darcy once claimed that anyone who loses his good opinion has lost it forever, but the dance ends before she can really lay into him about all his flaws.
Jane comes over as soon as the dance has ended to talk with Elizabeth. She tells Elizabeth that she is wrong to believe that Darcy mistreated Wickham because Bingley, who could never do wrong, tells Jane that although he doesn't know all the details, he does know that Wickham is a scoundrel. Elizabeth, however, doesn't want to believe ill of Wickham.
Mr. Collins then embarrasses Elizabeth by going to introduce himself to Darcy since he has learned that Darcy is the nephew of his patroness, Lady De Bourgh. But the embarrassment does not end there. At supper, Mrs. Bennet brags so loudly of her expectations that Bingley will marry Jane that Elizabeth is mortified because Darcy is sitting silently across the table hearing every shameful remark that Mrs. Bennet makes.
After supper, Mary, the middle Bennet sister, adds to the humiliation by singing for everyone despite her lack of musical talent. She doesn't leave the piano and shut up until her father insists that she must stop. But the grand finale is that the Bennet family is the last to leave and they don't move quickly about leaving. Elizabeth is mortified by her family's imposition on Bingley and even moreso by the prospect of giving Darcy and Bingley's sisters any more ammunition. As they are leaving, Mrs. Bennet presses Bingley to accept an invitation to an informal dinner when he returns from London. He is leaving the next morning, but will be back soon.
Topic Tracking: Pride 8
On the way home from the ball Mrs. Bennet thinks of how happy she is to get rid of Elizabeth to Mr. Collins because Elizabeth is her least favorite child. But Mrs. Bennet is extremely happy for Jane's good match with Bingley, which is certain in Mrs. Bennet's mind.
The day after the ball, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, much to her dismay. His long-winded proposal outlines the practical reasons for their marriage and ends with the assumption that she will accept his hand. When Elizabeth refuses, he thinks that she's being coy, so he dismisses her answer. She says no again, but he still doesn't believe her because such a marriage would be, from his point of view, all to her advantage since she's not rich and may never get another proposal. Elizabeth decides that if Collins keeps pushing his proposal, she'll get her father to refuse him so that Collins will get the hint.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 7
Mrs. Bennet hurries to congratulate Collins, but he tells her that Elizabeth is being coy and refusing him for the moment. Mrs. Bennet tells him that Elizabeth is headstrong, but she'll make Elizabeth accept the proposal. Then realizing that Elizabeth's refusal was real, Collins begins to doubt that he wants to marry her. Mrs. Bennet tries to get Mr. Bennet to force Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins. When Elizabeth tells her parents that she has refused Mr. Collins and will not marry him, Mrs. Bennet says that if Elizabeth doesn't marry him, she'll never speak to her again. Mr. Bennet then says, "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. --Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." Volume 1, Chapter 20, pg. 78 Elizabeth is off the hook.
Charlotte comes over to visit and hears the news as Mrs. Bennet complains that her children and her husband are cruel to her. While the woman whines, Mr. Collins comes in and takes back his offer of marriage. He tells Mrs. Bennet that as much as he respects and likes the family, a marriage to Elizabeth wouldn't work out at all.
Although Mr. Collins is miffed at Elizabeth's refusal, he doesn't plan to leave their house any earlier, which makes an awkward situation that much worse. The Bennet girls go to Meryton to see if Wickham has come back to town. Sure enough, he's back, and he tells Elizabeth that he didn't go to the ball at Netherfield because he didn't want to run into Darcy. When the girls leave town, Wickham walks them home and pays special attention to Elizabeth. Wickham stays for dinner.
While they are sitting in the parlor after dinner, Jane gets a message from Miss Bingley, and she seems upset by what she reads. After all the dinner company leaves, Jane tells Elizabeth that the Bingleys have all left Netherfield for good. Miss Bingley also conveniently mentions that her brother is interested in Darcy's young sister, Miss Darcy, as if she's just sharing information and not trying to hurt Jane's feelings. Elizabeth believes that Miss Bingley is just being cruel because she knows that her brother likes Jane and that Jane likes him. Jane, however, is too good hearted to think that Miss Bingley would ever intentionally hurt her feelings, so she believes that Miss Bingley was just mistaken. They decide to tell their mother nothing of Bingley's reported affection for Miss Darcy.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 8
The Bennets dine with the Lucases and Charlotte tolerates Mr. Collins well, which Elizabeth appreciates. What Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennets do not know is that Charlotte hopes to win Mr. Collins over and get a proposal for herself. Mr. Collins returns to the Lucases home the next morning and proposes, but Charlotte insists that she be the one to tell the Bennets because she wants to warn Elizabeth first. Mr. Collins leaves the Bennets home the next morning to head back to his parish, but he promises to return very, very soon, to the disappointment of Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet, however, takes that to mean that he's interested in one of her younger daughters, and she is happy that Elizabeth didn't ruin everything for them.
Charlotte comes over after breakfast and tells Elizabeth that she is engaged to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth is shocked and disappointed that her friend would marry such an obnoxious fool. But Charlotte expects a comfortable life with Mr. Collins and aspires to nothing greater. Elizabeth feels that their friendship is quite altered by Charlotte's decision, but she tries to move past her complete disgust.
Sir William comes to Longbourn to announce his daughter's engagement to Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennet is furious that Charlotte has taken a prospect from her daughters. She is no less insulted that Charlotte will become the lady of Longbourn when Mr. Bennet dies because she will be married to Mr. Collins, who will inherit the estate. Mrs. Bennet remains angry at Elizabeth for a long time because her refusal to marry Mr. Collins sent him to Charlotte and now Longbourn will be lost. Mrs. Bennet is in such an ill humor that she is rude to the Lucases and Mr. Collins when he returns. She feels that everyone is conspiring against her to make her life miserable.
Elizabeth feels weird around Charlotte and grows closer to Jane, and in their closeness Elizabeth notices that her sister is sad about Bingley. A week has passed and he hasn't sent word to her or come back to Netherfield. Elizabeth grows worried that Bingley's plotting sisters have found a way to keep him from Jane and are trying to match him with Darcy's sister. It makes sense to Elizabeth that Miss Bingley would want such a match because that would put her that much closer to Darcy and improving her chances for marrying him.
Miss Bingley sends Jane another letter to tell her that they aren't coming back to Netherfield. Under the pretense of affection, Miss Bingley also confides to Jane that her brother, Bingley, and Miss Darcy grow closer each day. Jane's hopes are crushed and Elizabeth is furious because she believes that Bingley liked Jane and is being manipulated by his self-serving sisters and Darcy. Jane, however, chooses to believe that Bingley's sisters are just pushing for Miss Darcy to get together with him because that will be the best decision for his happiness.
Mrs. Bennet causes Jane more pain about Bingley by constantly talking about him. Once it is certain that Bingley and Darcy are not coming back to Netherfield, Wickham tells everyone in Meryton how Darcy cheated him out of his rightful inheritance, although Wickham had told Elizabeth that he would not make these accusations public out of respect for Darcy's dead father. All of Meryton feels justified in hating Darcy now even though they've disliked him all along because he is proud and snobby.
Wickham visits Longbourn often, and Elizabeth enjoys his company a great deal.
A few days after Mr. Collins leaves again, Elizabeth's aunt and uncle, Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Gardiner, bring their children and come to visit for Christmas. Mrs. Gardiner, a more sensible woman than Mrs. Bennet, is close to Elizabeth and Jane. Knowing of Jane's disappointment in Bingley, Mrs. Gardiner invites Jane to go home with them to London. Jane accepts the offer. SHe insists that Bingley is not to blame for harming her, in fact no one is. She is disappointed because of her own expectations that he cared for her, which she thinks may have been imagined on her part. She says, "It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does." Volume 2, Chapter 2, pg. 94 Despite her statement, Jane seems to secretly hope that she will see Bingley and his sisters while she is in London, but Elizabeth doesn't expect that Bingley will visit Jane because she is sure that Darcy will prevent it. She also believes that Bingley's back-stabbing sisters will drop their acquaintance with Jane once she is in town.
While the Gardiners are at Longbourn, Mrs. Gardiner meets Wickham and talks with him about Pemberley, Darcy's estate. Wickham tells the story again of how Darcy mistreated him, and Mrs. Gardiner believes it to be true because when she lived in Derbyshire, not far from Pemberley, she remembers hearing that Darcy, unlike his beloved father, was a selfish, spoiled young man.
Mrs. Gardiner, because of her fondness for Elizabeth, takes it upon herself to warn Elizabeth not to become too romantically attached to Wickham because neither of them have any money and would be completely poor if they were to marry. Elizabeth is surprised by such a notion and assures her aunt that her fondness for Wickham does not mean loves. She agrees to her aunt's request to distance herself from him for safety's sake.
Charlotte and Mr. Collins marry, and Charlotte makes Elizabeth promise to come visit when Sir William and his other daughter make the journey in March. There is nothing Elizabeth can do but agree. The Gardeners return to London.
A letter from Jane arrives and tells Elizabeth that although Jane had paid a quick visit to Miss Bingley, and she felt that Bingley's sisters behaved differently than they had at Hertfordshire. Jane expected that the women would return her visit, but it took six weeks for Miss Bingley to show up at the Gardiners' home on the side of town where merchants lived and conducted business. Jane feels slighted and realizes that Elizabeth had been right about Miss Bingley. Although Elizabeth feels bad for her kind sister, she is glad that Jane can see Miss Bingley as the two-faced snot that she is.
Mrs. Gardiner wants to know the word on Wickham and Elizabeth tells her that he has moved on to chase an unattractive girl whose grandfather just died, leaving her a large inheritance. Elizabeth is not angry or jealous at the shift in Wickham's attention, and so she knows that she never loved him.
Elizabeth embarks on the trip to Hunsford to see Charlotte. Elizabeth, Sir William, and his other daughter, Maria, stop in London to stay with the Gardiners overnight. Jane is happy to see her sister, but Elizabeth feels like Jane is still in low spirits over Bingley. When there is an opportunity, Elizabeth talks with her aunt about Jane and learns that she has been a little down despite her attempts hide it. Mrs. Gardiner asks about Wickham again, and Elizabeth gives her the scoop on Wickham's interest in the newly rich girl in Hertfordshire. Aggravated over the behavior of these men she'd thought so highly of, Elizabeth declares that "Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing after all." Volume 2, Chapter 4, pg. 107 To ease what Mrs. Gardiner imagines to be her neice's disappointment over Wickham, she invites Elizabeth to go with the Gardiners on vacation the following summer. Elizabeth excitedly accepts the invitation although she isn't upset over Wickham.
Elizabeth leaves London with Sir William and Maria, and they head to Hunsford and Rosings where Collins has his parish. Elizabeth is anxious to see Charlotte and is excited for the visit despite the fact that she'll have to be around Collins.
The parsonage is small, but well kept, which Elizabeth credits to Charlotte. Although she has been expecting a great difference in their friendship, Elizabeth finds that she and Charlotte get along just as well as ever when Collins isn't around. The way that Collins points out all the advantages of his home and his connections to Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Elizabeth feels like he's trying to show her all that she missed out on when she refused to marry him. Elizabeth is unmoved.
Lady De Bourgh herself is a great source of pride for Collins, and he boasts of his relationship with her. He is certain that Elizabeth will be awed and humbled by his patroness whenever they meet, and he is very excited to report to Elizabeth that Miss De Bourgh has stopped by to invite the Collinses and their guests to dinner at Rosings the next day.
Elizabeth saw Miss De Bourgh from the window when her carriage stopped at the parsonage. She can't help but remember Wickham's comment that Darcy and Miss De Bourgh were practically betrothed from the cradle. Elizabeth is happy to see that Miss De Bourgh looks sickly and unhappy, and Elizabeth thinks that a girl with such a disposition will be exactly what Darcy deserves.
Mr. Collins is excited to show off the wealth and grandeur of his patroness to his father-in-law and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth meets Lady De Bourgh she sees that the sturdy woman's commanding air is exactly what Wickham said it was. Miss De Bourgh, so small and frail, bears hardly any resemblance to her mother in look or personality. While Lady De Bourgh has an definite opinion on every topic, Miss De Bourgh speaks only to her companion without whom she never goes anywhere.
While all the other members of the party seem to give in to Lady De Bourgh's instructions and opinions, Elizabeth is not intimidated enough to surrender her own opinion, especially when Lady De Bourgh is criticizing the fact that Elizabeth was raised without a governess and introduced into society in the same year that all of her other sisters were. When Elizabeth disagrees with Lady De Bourgh, she sees that the woman is ruffled and realizes that Lady De Bourgh has probably never been crossed before. She takes some form of pride and pleasure in disagreeing with the pushy woman.
When Collins later asks Elizabeth what she thought of Rosings and of Lady De Bourgh, Elizabeth lies and speaks highly of it all for Charlotte's sake.
Sir Williams leaves Hunsford after a week, but Elizabeth and Maria remain. Elizabeth enjoys her time with Charlotte when Collins is not around, which is quite often, fortunately. Lady De Bourgh stops by frequently and always has suggestions for how Charlotte should be running her household. Two weeks into her visit at Rosings, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, come to Rosings for Easter.
The morning after their arrival, both gentlemen come to the parsonage to visit, an honor which Charlotte attributes to Elizabeth's presence. Colonel Fitzwilliam is friendly and Elizabeth likes him. Darcy seems as stilted and stiff as he was at Netherfield. Darcy asks after Elizabeth's family and she mentions that Jane is in London and asks if he has seen her just to see how he will react to her inference that he had something to do with the way that Bingley abandoned Jane. Darcy looks confused and says that he hasn't seen Jane. Elizabeth lets it go and soon Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy leave.
The Collinses and their guests aren't invited to Rosings again until the evening of Easter Sunday because Lady De Bourgh had her nephews to entertain her. At dinner that evening Elizabeth finds herself quite entertained by Colonel Fitzwilliam's conversation while Darcy is stuck with his aunt. When Lady De Bourgh notices that Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam are having such a great time, she intrudes in their conversation to break up their camaraderie. Darcy had also noticed that Elizabeth was enjoying Colonel Fitzwilliam's company. Soon after Lady De Bourgh's interruption and advice that Elizabeth should practice the piano more so that she would be a decent pianist, Colonel Fitzwilliam convinces her to play for him.
Darcy escapes Lady De Bourgh and comes over to watch Elizabeth play, and she asks him if he has come over to intimidate her. He says that he won't argue with her because he knows that she's just trying to bait him into an argument and give him a hard time. Then, at Colonel Fitzwilliam's request, Elizabeth tells him how Darcy offended all of Hertfordshire by dancing only four dances at the first ball he attended when there were ladies having to sit out because there weren't enough men. Her reference to Darcy's behavior that night makes Darcy feel guilty enough to defend himself because that was the evening when he told Miss Bingley that Elizabeth was not pretty enough for him to ask her to dance. Darcy is embarrassed by his behavior, and he doesn't even know that Elizabeth overheard him say that about her. So Darcy says that he didn't know anyone except Bingley and his sisters and he's not good at introducing himself to strangers and pretending to be interested in their small talk. Elizabeth points out that just as her playing the piano would improve with practice, so would Darcy's people skills. Elizabeth plays the piano until it is time to leave and during that time she notices that Darcy is not really partial to Miss De Bourgh as Wickham said he was.
Elizabeth is alone in the parlor when Darcy comes in. She is just as surprised to see him as he is to find her alone. There is an awkward tension as they search for a topic to talk about. Elizabeth tries to get an explanation for the way that they all left Netherfield, but Darcy weasels away from it. Then they are left with little to talk about and he leaves soon after Charlotte and Maria return. Charlotte thinks that Darcy likes Elizabeth, but she can't be sure because he behaves so oddly around her.
Elizabeth runs into Darcy on one of her walks and, hoping to prevent another encounter, she tells him that she often walks there. She is quite surprised when she then bumps into him a few more times on that same path. Each time he walks her back to the parsonage.
She is reading a letter from Jane that seems to betray that Jane is still depressed over Bingley when she runs into Colonel Fitzwilliam. On their walk back to the parsonage Colonel Fitzwilliam unwittingly reveals that Darcy persuaded Bingley away from Jane because it was an unwise match. Having her suspicions confirmed didn't make Elizabeth any happier, and by evening she felt so poorly that she decided to stay home while everyone else went to Rosings for dinner.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 9
Topic Tracking: Status 7
Elizabeth sits reading Jane's letters and finding a lack of Jane's typical cheer in each line when Darcy rushes in. He tells her that he's concerned about her health, and Elizabeth is surprised by his worry. But she's even more surprised when he says, "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Volume 2, Chapter 11, pg. 130 He goes on to tell her that he loves her despite her lack of wealth or connections to important people. He says that he's tried to ignore his feelings for her because it would be beneath him to marry anyone like her, but he can't fight it anymore. He asks her to marry him. Despite the flattery of someone as wealthy and sought-after as Darcy proposing to her, Elizabeth is outraged at his assumption that she'll say yes because it's such a great offer for someone like her. She tells him no and tells him of her dislike for his personality and his behavior towards her as well as his role in Jane's unhappiness and Wickham's misfortune. Darcy doesn't deny his part in either Jane or Wickham's situation, but he seems absolutely shocked that Elizabeth has disliked him from the beginning of their acquaintance because of his own personality. When he leaves, Elizabeth is so shocked and upset that she cries although she feels no remorse for refusing him.
Elizabeth wakes as upset as she was when she went to sleep, so she decides to go for a walk. Fearing that she might run into Darcy, she walks in a different part of the estate from the one she usually chooses. Darcy still finds her, however, and hurriedly gives her a letter that he asks her to read. Then he quickly walks away.
The letter explains that Darcy did not believe that Jane loved Bingley, and he thought that his friend would make a fool of himself if he proposed to her. Jane's behavior suggested that she thought well of Bingley, but no more so than she did of anyone else. Darcy also points out the other dangers of a relationship with Jane, which, although they might be painful for Elizabeth to read, were quite obvious. The way that her family behaved at the Netherfield ball as well as the continually improper behavior of her parents and younger sisters were considerations in his warning to Bingley. Darcy admits that the only underhanded behavior he took part in was concealing from Bingley that Jane was in London, but even that Darcy is not sorry for because he was trying to protect his friend.
As for Wickham, Darcy writes that when his father died the will recommended that Darcy give Wickham a parish at Pemberley or help Wickham find a suitable position at some other estate. But rather than be a preacher, Wickham decided that he'd prefer to have money that he claimed would support him while he studied law. Darcy gave him money and considered them all evened out. No more was owed to Wickham. Darcy had known all along that Wickham was underhanded and manipulative because they were the same age and were often around each other. But Darcy never ratted Wickham out because Darcy's dad was so attached to Wickham. But not long after Wickham had gone to London, he wrote to Darcy for more money because he'd changed his mind about studying law. Darcy knew that Wickham wasn't using the money to study, and he denied Wickham's request and all the others that followed it trying to shame Darcy into another payment. When Wickham saw that Darcy wouldn't crack, he seduced Darcy's sister who was fifteen at the time. Miss Darcy told her brother of her naive plan to elope with Wickham whom she fancied herself to love. Darcy showed up before Wickham could whisk her away and he put a stop to the plan for the sake of his sister's inheritance and reputation. The near miss was kept a secret to protect Miss Darcy and Wickham disappeared until Darcy saw him again in Meryton.
Elizabeth doesn't know what to think of the letter. At first she doesn't believe Darcy's claims about Bingley and Jane or Wickham. But when she rereads the part of the letter about Wickham she realizes that Darcy's account of the story begins to seem right when she thinks about the way that she completely believed Wickham's story without any verification from anyone or any proof of his character. She believed him because she liked him, because he was charming and pleasant and handsome. Wickham had told her this very personal story only the second time they met when she was still a complete stranger to him. Why would he have done that? Then, although he'd said that he wouldn't back away from Darcy because he was in the right, he didn't show up at Netherfield because he didn't want to run into Darcy. And finally, Wickham had said that he'd not tell anyone else how Darcy mistreated him out of respect for the memory of Darcy's father, but as soon as Darcy was out of town, Wickham told everyone to gain their sympathy, and it had worked. Elizabeth had never seen Wickham do anything kind or honest or good that vouched for his character, but she's believed him good because she'd wanted him to be good just as she'd believed Darcy bad because he hadn't been pleasing or flattering to her.
After realizing the truth in Darcy's explanation about Wickham, she also remembers that Charlotte had warned her that Jane's composure around Bingley could very well be mistaken for a lack of interest, and Elizabeth hadn't believed her. But it seems that Charlotte was right.
Elizabeth goes back to the parsonage and learns that both Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam have come by to say goodbye because they are leaving the following morning.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 10
Topic Tracking: Pride 9
After Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave, the Collinses and Elizabeth are invited to Rosings where Lady De Bourgh tries to bully Elizabeth into staying longer. When Elizabeth insists that she must leave the next week, Lady De Bourgh tries to tell them how to pack and travel. Elizabeth endures conversations like that for the rest of the week, but when she's alone, she reflects on Darcy's letter and her own embarrassment at her accusations and her family's disgrace. She notices how her own opinion of Darcy is now one of respect and her feelings about her own behavior since she met him are shameful.
Elizabeth has to sit through Collins's gratitude and his hope that Elizabeth will tell everyone at home how well off Charlotte is now that she's married to him. Elizabeth and Maria leave and go to London to Mrs. Gardiner's home. Elizabeth can't wait to get home to Longbourn with Jane so that she can see how her sister is really doing. Elizabeth can't decide how much of Darcy's proposal and letter that she can tell Jane without hurting her in regard to Bingley.
When Elizabeth and Jane arrive in Hertfordshire, Kitty and Lydia are waiting to meet them. The younger girls are full of stories about the soldiers and the news that Wickham has abandoned interest in the ugly rich girl. Kitty and Lydia are sad to report that the regiment is leaving town in two weeks to go to Brighton. Elizabeth is glad to see the soldiers go before Kitty and Lydia get themselves into trouble with their shameful behavior. Kitty and Lydia talk of how Mrs. Bennet agrees that it would be nice to go to Brighton for a vacation so that they could all be near the regiment, but Elizabeth is only somewhat worried that Mr. Bennet will allow them to go.
Elizabeth tells Jane about Darcy's proposal and about Wickham's connection to Darcy, but she doesn't mention anything about Bingley. Jane is shocked at all that Elizabeth has to say, and she feels sorry for Darcy because Elizabeth must have disappointed him when she refused him. Elizabeth feels better after talking to Jane, but she is still worried about Jane's heartache over Bingley. Mrs. Bennet says, "Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done." Volume 2, Chapter 17, pg. 156 Elizabeth decides not to expose Wickham's character to her family or the people of Meryton because the soldiers will be gone in two weeks anyway and she'd have to use some of the information that Darcy gave in confidence to prove Wickham's vileness.
Lydia is invited to accompany a colonel and his young wife to Brighton with the soldiers. Mrs. Bennet is as ecstatic as Lydia, although Kitty is pouting. Elizabeth sees the danger in letting Lydia go with the soldiers, and so she speaks to her father about it, pointing out the potential for great embarrassment and shame for the family if Lydia misbehaves. Mr. Bennet assures Elizabeth that anyone who knows her or Jane will not judge them based on the actions of one of their silly sisters, and, despite Elizabeth's pleas, he lets Lydia go to Brighton.
At a farewell party the night before Lydia and the soldiers leave, Wickham talks with Elizabeth and she mentions seeing Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam on her visit to Rosings. She is trying to scare him off because he seems to be trying to renew her fondness for him since he's dumped the ugly heiress. When Elizabeth tells Wickham that knowing Darcy better makes him more likeable each time they meet because she understands his personality better, Wickham takes the hint and leaves her alone. He's not sure just how much of the truth about his relation to Darcy that Elizabeth knows.
After Lydia leaves for Brighton, Kitty pouts for a while. Elizabeth begins to look forward to her vacation with her aunt and uncle, but she's disappointed when she learns that the trip will have to be postponed and shortened because her uncle must work. Instead of touring the lake region, they will only be able to make it as far north as Derbyshire. Elizabeth worries that she might run into Darcy while they're in Derbyshire because Pemberley, his home, is in that county, but when she rationalizes that the odds are slim that she'll run into him, she is excited about the trip again.
Elizabeth's vacation is wonderful until her aunt and uncle propose going to Pemberley to tour the estate. Elizabeth can't tell them that she can't go there and risk seeing Darcy because then she'll have to explain their complicated relationship and all that's happened between them. After finding out that Darcy and his friends are out of town, however, she looks forward to seeing the estate.
Pemberley is beautiful, and Elizabeth can't help but think that she could have been mistress of it all. Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Gardiner keep Darcy's housekeeper engaged in conversation and Elizabeth is relieved to hear that Darcy isn't expected back at Pemberley until next day. Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle learn that Darcy is, according to his housekeeper, a kind, generous, good-tempered man. The housekeeper's account of Darcy doesn't necessarily blend with Elizabeth's expectations, but her feelings for him soften into admiration before the tour of his home is finished because of the housekeeper's warm praise of her master. She thinks that the portraits of him bring out a handsomeness she had never fully noted before, and she considers that he doesn't seem nearly so repulsive to her as he did when he proposed to her.
Elizabeth and her family are surprised when Darcy himself interrupts their meeting with the gardener. Both Elizabeth and Darcy are uncomfortable, but Darcy is more polite than Elizabeth has ever seen him and she wonders why his manner is so changed. As she and her the Gardiners tour the grounds of Pemberley, Elizabeth can't take her mind off Darcy and his unsure behavior. She is even more surprised when Darcy comes out onto the grounds to speak with her again.
Elizabeth introduces Darcy to her aunt and uncle and is surprised again when he is friendly to them. He invites her uncle to fish at Pemberley while he is in town, and Elizabeth is happy that she has some relatives she doesn't have to be ashamed of. Darcy walks Elizabeth back to the carriage and she explains that she had been told that he wouldn't be back until the following day. She's embarrassed that he might think that she's thrown herself into his path. Darcy tells her that Bingley and his sisters will arrive at Pemberley tomorrow. He mentions that his sister, Miss Darcy, will be with them. Elizabeth is amazed when Darcy asks if he may introduce her to his sister. Such a gesture must mean that he still cares for her, but she can't believe that after the way that she refused his proposal he might still care for her. Despite her confusion and surprise, she agrees to meet Miss Darcy.
The Gardiners are impressed with Darcy, but they still think that he mistreated Wickham. Elizabeth, without betraying Darcy's confidence, explains to her aunt and uncle as much as she can about what really happened between Wickham and Darcy. Elizabeth spends the rest of the day puzzling over Darcy's behavior.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 11
Darcy brings his sister over to meet Elizabeth not long after Miss Darcy has arrived at Pemberley. Bingley comes over soon after that to say hello. Elizabeth is surprised that Miss Darcy is extremely shy, not proud, as she'd heard. Bingley makes a few quiet and subtle references to Jane, which Elizabeth is happy to hear. Meanwhile the Gardiners have decided that Darcy is in love with Elizabeth, but they can't tell how she feels about him. After the guests leave, Elizabeth realizes that it was a pleasant visit although she's been too nervous to enjoy it. The Gardiners don't press Elizabeth about Darcy, and she's grateful because she's trying to determine how she feels about him. Things have changed so drastically for her where he is concerned. She finds that "[t]he respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which [their encounter at Pemberley and his visit to Elizabeth] yesterday had produced." Volume 3, Chapter 2, pg. 181 She thinks that he must truly care about her if he can still be this kind and interested after the way that she'd treated him.
Mr. Gardiner has a fishing date at Pemberley the next morning, so Elizabeth and her aunt decide to return Miss Darcy's call then.
Topic Tracking: Pride 10
Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner visit Miss Darcy. Elizabeth is curious to see how Miss Bingley will treat her. Elizabeth finds that Miss Bingley watches Elizabeth closely whenever she talks to Miss Darcy, who doesn't talk very much. Then Darcy comes in and everyone, especially Miss Bingley, watches him and Elizabeth. Miss Bingley, trying to embarrass Elizabeth, asks about the regiment of soldiers that recently left Meryton to refer to Elizabeth's believed affection for Wickham. The reference to Wickham bothered Elizabeth, but not as much as it embarrassed Miss Darcy and Darcy himself, and Elizabeth quickly dismisses the comment. Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner leave soon, and Darcy walks them out. As soon s they have left the room, Miss Bingley begins trashing Elizabeth and her family, and when Darcy comes back she keeps harping on Elizabeth's looks until finally says that he thought her pretty at one time, "but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance." Volume 3, Chapter 3, pg. 185 Miss Bingley knows now that Darcy loves Elizabeth and will never love her.
Elizabeth got two letters from Jane the next morning. From the letters she learned that Lydia had eloped with Wickham, but the family has reason to believe that they have not actually married, which is more disgraceful than the elopement. The colonel that Lydia was staying with had been unable to find Wickham and Lydia, and Mr. Bennet couldn't find them either, but they had reason to believe that Wickham and Lydia were hiding out in London.
Before Elizabeth can go find her aunt and uncle, Darcy comes in. Elizabeth is upset and she tells him what she's learned and that she must go home to Longbourn immediately. Elizabeth admits that she feels responsible because she didn't tell anyone about Wickham's true nature and now her whole family would be disgraced. Darcy's quiet pacing makes Elizabeth certain that she's lost all hope of his affections because of Lydia's impropriety. When the Gardiners return and hear the news, they all leave immediately for Longbourn.
Elizabeth and the Gardiners get to Longbourn and find that Mr. Bennet is in London looking for Lydia and Wickham. Mrs. Bennet is so distraught that she hasn't been able to come downstairs since she heard the news. The colonel who was Lydia's guardian in Brighton had heard from one of Wickham's friends that Wickham never planned to marry Lydia. Although the soldier couldn't be sure that Wickham hadn't married Lydia, it would've been a poor choice for him because Lydia had no money. The rumors of the elopement sweep through Meryton and it comes out that Wickham has gambling debts that he left unpaid when he left town. The situation looks grim.
Mr. Gardiner goes to London to help Mr. Bennet, but they can't find a trace of Lydia or Wickham. The two are probably laying low to avoid Lydia's family and the people to whom Wickham owes money since he'd fallen into large gambling debts in Brighton. No one knows any family or friends that Wickham would turn to for help, so they can't find any leads to locating him or Lydia. Mr. Gardiner convinces Mr. Bennet to return to Longbourne and let Mr. Gardiner handle things in London. At home Mr. Bennet accepts the blame for Lydia's behavior because he let her go to Brighton and he didn't punish her silly behavior, so he's decided he's going to be stricter with Kitty so that she'll have some sense.
Mr. Bennet gets a letter from Mr. Gardiner the next day letting him know that Lydia and Wickham have been found and agreed to get married. Mr. Gardiner has arranged to pay off Wickham's debts and give him a small allowance each year as incentive to marry Lydia whose reputation would never recover otherwise. Mr. Bennet feels indebted to his brother-in-law because he can't afford to give Wickham that kind of money, and he is angry at Lydia for putting them in such a situation. Elizabeth is relieved to know that they're marrying, but she's disgusted with Lydia's behavior. Jane hopes that they'll be happy together, and Mrs. Bennet is so ecstatic that she acts as if Lydia has done nothing wrong.
Mr. Gardiner writes to tell Mr. Bennet to think nothing of the debt and to let him know that Wickham has agreed to leave the militia and join the regulars. His post is going to be in the far North. Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth, and Jane are happy about the distant home of the newly weds, but Mrs. Bennet is upset to have her favorite daughter living so far away. Mr. Bennet is still so angry with Lydia that he refuses to allow her at Longbourn. Only Jane and Elizabeth finally convince him to let Lydia and Wickham visit before they leave for the North. Elizabeth isn't particularly excited to see either of them, but she knows it's for the best.
Lydia and Wickham come home for ten days, and although Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bennet are uncomfortable with the marriage, Lydia, Wickham, and Mrs. Bennet act as if nothing wrong had been done. Lydia tries to rub in the fact that she's the youngest and she's the only married one. As they enter the dining room Lydia expects Jane to give up her spot at her mother's right hand at the table and says, "Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman." Volume 3, Chapter 9, pg. 217 This behavior bugs Elizabeth because of the shame Lydia has thoughtlessly brought on her family and the lack of remorse she shows for doing it. Then Lydia is describing her wedding to Elizabeth when she mentions that Darcy was there. She won't say anything else about him because it was supposed to be a secret, so Elizabeth writes to her aunt to find out what Darcy was doing there.
Mrs. Gardiner's answer to Elizabeth's letter reveals that Darcy was not only the one who found Lydia and Wickham, but also the one who made all the arrangements for their marriage and for paying off Wickham's debts. He didn't want anyone to know of his involvement, though, so he asked Mr. Gardiner to take the credit for it although Mr. Gardiner was uncomfortable taking credit for someone else's good deeds. Darcy claimed that he felt responsible for what happened because he didn't tell anyone in Meryton the truth about Wickham, but Mrs. Gardiner attributes his kindness to his love for Elizabeth. Elizabeth suspects his affection, but believes that despite his feelings, they could never marry for the reasons he'd given her before and now that Wickham is her brother-in-law, marriage must be impossible.
Wickham comes into the garden as Elizabeth is finishing the letter. He asks her about her visit to Pemberley, pumping her to see how much she knows about him. She says enough to let him know that she's not fooled by him anymore in hopes that he'll leave her alone. He drops the subject.
Wickham and Lydia leave, and although Mrs. Bennet's spirits are low, the news that Bingley is returning to Netherfield makes her happy. Jane swears that she is indifferent to Bingley's return except that everyone keeps expecting her to be affected by his arrival. Three days after his arrival at Netherfield, Bingley comes to Longbourn, and Darcy is with him. Elizabeth and Jane are both nervous while Bingley and Darcy are there, but Elizabeth is especially embarrassed by the way that her mother gushes over Bingley and is barely civil to Darcy, to whom she unknowingly owes the reputation and marriage of her favorite daughter.
Elizabeth waits to see how Darcy behaves to determine if he still cares for her, but she can tell nothing because he speaks little and looks at the floor most of the time. Bingley, however, seems to still love Jane. Bingley and Darcy accept a dinner invitation to come back in a few days.
Elizabeth doesn't know what to makes of Darcy's behavior, so she decides that how he acts at the dinner party will tell her how he feels. Although Bingley sits next to Jane, Darcy is seated next to Mrs. Bennet, and Elizabeth can't even talk with him after dinner because she is serving coffee and remains surrounded by ladies. Even when he comes back for a refill, they only speak a few words before some woman interrupts them. Darcy and Bingley leave without Elizabeth ever really having a chance to talk with Darcy. She realizes that she cares for him a great deal, but she sees the impossibility of him ever proposing to her again because he is such a proud man and she was so terrible to him the first time he proposed.
Topic Tracking: Pride 11
Jane tells Elizabeth that she does not care for Bingley as more than just friends, which isn't true. She just doesn't want to mistake his feelings for her again. But Elizabeth knows that Jane and Bingley will be engaged soon.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 12
Bingley comes to Longbourn again soon to visit Jane while Darcy is out of town on business. Bingley finally proposes after spending several entire days at Longbourn, and everyone is very happy for Jane. Jane learns that Bingley loved her when he left Netherfield the first time, but that Bingley believed that she didn't love him and that he never knew that she was in London or he would have come to visit her. Elizabeth is glad that Bingley didn't tell Jane about Darcy's role in all of the misunderstandings because she doesn't want Jane to dislike Darcy.
About a week after Jane's engagement, Lady Catherine De Bourgh shows up at Longbourn and wants to speak with Elizabeth. She tells Elizabeth that she's heard that Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged, and she's outraged. She lectures Elizabeth on how ill-suited she is to Darcy and how she would ruin him if she married him. Elizabeth listens to the insufferable woman's insults and finally tells her that if Darcy wants to marry her, it's none of Lady De Bourgh's concern and she'll just have to deal with it. Lady De Bourgh insists that Darcy is supposed to marry her daughter, and Elizabeth says that if he doesn't want to marry Miss De Bourgh, he shouldn't have to. When Elizabeth finally admits that she and Darcy are not engaged, Lady De Bourgh tries to make her promise that she'll refuse him even if he asks, but Elizabeth won't do it.
She says, "I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable . . . You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you certainly have no right to concern yourself in mine." Volume 3, Chapter 14, pg. 246
Lady De Bourgh leaves in a huff.
Topic Tracking: Status 8
Elizabeth is stressed over Lady De Bourgh's visit because she knows that the woman will speak to Darcy on the topic, which will only embarrass Elizabeth further. Elizabeth also isn't sure how much Lady De Bourgh's opinion matters to her nephew, but Elizabeth worries that if LBD lists all Elizabeth's disadvantages to Darcy the way she did to Elizabeth herself, any affection that Darcy still has for Elizabeth will be destroyed. But more disturbing than all of that is that she doesn't know where the rumor started. She guesses that the excitement over Jane's engagement naturally matches Elizabeth, Jane's sister, to Darcy, the groom-to-be's best friend. She bets that the Lucases made some such prediction in their correspondence to the Collinses and that's how Lady De Bourgh found out.
Elizabeth's suspicion is confirmed when her father calls her into his study to hear the latest letter from Collins which congratulates him on Elizabeth's engagement to Darcy. Mr. Bennet is amused that anyone could ever imagine a match between someone as wealthy as Darcy and Elizabeth who hates Darcy so much. Elizabeth endures the pain of her father's amusement and thinks that perhaps he's right that her own desire to regain Darcy's affections has made her imagine any affection between them.
Topic Tracking: Misunderstanding 13
Topic Tracking: Status 9
Darcy comes with Bingley to Longbourn a few days later, and he and Elizabeth are left alone to walk around as Jane and Bingley pair off and Kitty goes to visit the Lucases. Elizabeth uses the time alone to thank Darcy for what he did for Lydia. He is surprised that she knows because he didn't want her to feel uncomfortable or obligated to him for anything. He tells her that he did it as much out of guilt over not revealing Wickham as to gain Elizabeth's favor. Then he says, "You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever." Volume 3, Chapter 16, pg. 252
Elizabeth tells him that her feelings for him have changed, and as they walk, they talk of how they've finally come together. Lady De Bourgh repeated to Darcy part of her conversation with Elizabeth, and he knew Elizabeth well enough to know that if she'd not cared for him, she would have told Lady De Bourgh that they weren't engaged from the very beginning.
When Elizabeth tells Jane that she's engaged to Darcy, Jane at first doesn't believe her. Then Jane questions her to be sure that she is in love with him because she did dislike him a great deal when they first met. Elizabeth is nervous about telling her parents because even Jane was shocked and thought Elizabeth had lost her mind.
The next day, however, Darcy asks Mr. Bennet for permission to marry Elizabeth. Mr. Bennet grants it, but he warns Elizabeth in private that she must be sure that she respects Darcy or she will never be happy. Elizabeth explains how greatly her feelings for Darcy have changed, and once her father learns of what Darcy did for Lydia, he sees that Elizabeth is serious and wishes her joy.
Elizabeth tells her mother that evening and her mother is deeply apologetic for the way that's treated Darcy now that he's going to be her rich son-in-law. Everyone is happy for Elizabeth just as they are for Jane.
Topic Tracking: Status 10
Elizabeth and Darcy resolve the unanswered questions of their relationship. Darcy had come with Bingley to Longbourn to see if he could make Elizabeth love him, and he knew from Lady De Bourgh's lecture to him about Elizabeth's evilness that Elizabeth must have cared for him. Elizabeth insists that he only came to love her because she did not try to please him. She tells him, "You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them." Volume 3, Chapter 18, pg. 262 She is, however, still quite embarrassed by the way that she misjudged him from the beginning. He is just as ashamed of his first proposal to her and his behavior toward her up until that proposal.
Topic Tracking: Pride 12
He writes to Lady De Bourgh to tell her the news, and Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner. Jane receives a letter of congratulations from Miss Bingley that is as insincere as her kindness was, and Jane recognizes it, but doesn't hold it against Bingley.
The entire neighborhood hears of the engagements, and both Elizabeth and Jane receive heaps of congratulations.
Jane and Elizabeth both marry their suitors. Elizabeth settles at Pemberley, and Jane and Bingley eventually move nearby because Mrs. Bennet was driving them crazy at Netherfield. Kitty is vastly improved by spending time in high society with her sensible sisters, and although Lydia often invites Kitty to come stay with her in the North, Mr. Bennet will never allow it. Mary remains at home and takes care of Mrs. Bennet
Wickham and Lydia remain largely the same, and after Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy, Lydia sends letters telling Elizabeth to ask Darcy for money if she would. Elizabeth does not ask Darcy to help Wickham out, but she does cut corners in her own budget and send them money when she can afford to. Darcy, although he can't allow Wickham in his home, does help advance his career for Elizabeth's sake. Lydia is even allowed to visit at Pemberley when her husband is out of town. Wickham and Lydia often stay so long at the Bingleys that Bingley himself is ready to throw them both out. Miss Bingley is mortified at Darcy's marriage, but she tries to make amends with Elizabeth and is still friends with Miss Darcy. Miss Darcy now lives year-round at Pemberley with her brother and sister-in-law to whom she grows close. Lady De Bourgh is furious with Darcy for marrying Elizabeth, but after a while and at Elizabeth's encouragement he forgives his aunt's behavior and they reconcile. "With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them." Volume 3, Chapter 19, pg. 268