Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 43-49: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 15 Giveaway

Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! The Narrator, Chapter 43

Quick Synopsis

Elizabeth and the Gardiner’s travel to Pemberley by carriage and are awed by its splendor. “of this place, I might have been mistress.” The housekeeper’s account of Mr. Darcy’s character counters Elizabeth previous conclusions. Mr. Darcy’s surprise arrival and attentive manner changes the course of their relationship. Elizabeth is grateful that he is not bitter over the past and her feelings toward him change. News from Longbourn of Lydia’s elopement shocks Elizabeth into tears and Darcy into retreat. Elizabeth and the Gardiner’s return home in pursuit of finding Lydia. Wickham’s bad debts and reputation are discovered by others. Mr. Collins writes to console the family but actually insults them. Mr. Bennet receives news from London that the couple will marry on very easy financial terms. He is suspicious, Mrs. Bennet ecstatic and the Bennet daughters relieved.


Elizabeth begins another journey of discovery when she and the Gardiner’s visit Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s Derbyshire estate. Never had she seen a place where “nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.” They are awed by its splendor and Elizabeth reflects, “and of this place I might have been mistress.” I think this chapter is one of the rare instances in which Austen describes a residence and grounds in such detail. I believe it is a build up to what Elizabeth will experience when they apply to the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds for a tour of Pemberley House. Not only is his home furnished according to his wealth, but its style is elegant, not gaudy or ostentatious like Rosings. This is a reflection of Darcy’s personality that Elizabeth had not realized before, coupled with the praise of his character by his faithful servant and Elizabeth is astonished and the Gardiner’s puzzled over her previous account of his proud and arrogant nature. As she gazes upon his portrait in the family gallery her feelings for him begin to change and respect and admiration take over her former prejudices. When they meet by surprise in the garden both of their reactions are classic as they blush and stammer for conversation. I love this scene. Here is Lizzy who is never at a loss for words or self-confidence frozen in silence. Ha! And Darcy the well-educated and eloquent man who she previously accused of having a taciturn nature only ready to speak if he can amaze the room, unable to do so. Their next scenes as they come together and walk through the grounds of Pemberley are one of Austen’s finest. There were so many passages to quote but I narrowed it down to one of my favorites.

No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that could be so called. The 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 yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude — gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection. The Narrator, Chapter 44

Elizabeth’s transformation from pride and prejudice is almost complete. Gratitude for kindness and understanding is a form of admiration and esteem and a solid basis for a relationship. It is almost the opposite of the conceited independence that Miss Bingley accused her of earlier in the novel. She is sincerely puzzled by his change in manner. His civility and marked attentions could only mean that he is still in love with her and wants to earn her favor.

[F]or to love, ardent love, it must be attributed; and as such, its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as by no means unpleasing, though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on the renewal of his addresses. The Narrator, Chapter 44

Austen often throws us from a poignant and moving scene of realization or enlightenment for her heroine right into the hornets’ nest of opposition. In this instance it is the re-introduction of acerbic and spiteful Caroline Bingley. She sees Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth as more than admiration of her fine eyes and decides to remind him of her family’s deficiencies with her cutting remark about the loss to her family by the removal of the militia from Meryton. Interestingly, her attempts to disparage Elizabeth in his eyes backfire, when the thought of the regiment also includes the association of Wickham hurting tender Georgiana who is still sensitive to the Ramsgate elopement debacle. Clueless that she has offended Darcy and Georgiana she continues to bad mouth Elizabeth after she departs by listing her physical defects like she is disqualifying a horse at auction.

“I must confess that I never could see any beauty in her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character — there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I never could perceive anything extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable.” Caroline Bingley, Chapter 45

It was gratifying to see Caroline fail at enticing neither Georgiana or Darcy to join in in her criticism and to hear him come to Elizabeth’s defense, “Yes,” replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, “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.” Ouch!

Things are going well for our lovers then the other shoe drops. Darcy arrives at her lodgings at Lambton to find a disturbing scene.

She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her in compassionate silence. At length she spoke again. “I have just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadful news. It cannot be concealed from any one. My youngest sister has left all her friends — has eloped; — has thrown herself into the power of — of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. You know him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no connexions, nothing that can tempt him to — she is lost for ever.” The Narrator, Chapter 46

All of Darcy’s former grievances of the deficiencies of Elizabeth’s family come true. Lydia’s elopement will taint their family’s reputation and severely lessen what slim chance the Bennet daughters had to attract suitable husbands. The shame and grief is so great for Elizabeth she is overcome with emotion. Darcy departs and Elizabeth feels that her chance with him is lost.

Be that as it may, she saw him (Mr. Darcy) go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia’s infamy must produce, found additional anguish as she (Elizabeth) reflected on that wretched business. The Narrator, Chapter 46

She and the Gardiner’s return to Longbourn and Mr. Gardiner continues on to London where Mr. Bennet is in pursuit of the couple.  The household is in shock and Mrs. Bennet despondent, sequestered in her bedroom in a nervous fit of flutterings and spasms. Right. After all of this tragic news and wretched angst Austen gives us moral humor.

“Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step involves her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.” Mary Bennet, Chapter 47

And then of course Mr. Collins must put in his oar.

“They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family? And this consideration leads me moreover to reflect, with augmented satisfaction, on a certain event of last November; for had it been otherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you then, my dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence.” Mr. Collins, Chapter 48

Doom and gloom for the Bennet family until a letter arrives from Mr. Gardiner with the good news that the couple has been found and agrees to marry. Mr. Bennet is rather pensive about it while Lizzy and Jane think it is excellent news. Their father sees the truth between the lines. No one would want Lydia for such a small sum.

“Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want very much to know: one is, how much money your uncle has laid down, to bring it about; and the other, how I am ever to pay him.” Mr. Bennet, Chapter 49

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 15 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of the Modern Library edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating why you think Mr. Darcy has had a change of heart and is so civil to Elizabeth when they meet again at Pemberley or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen
Day 17  July 10     Group Read: Chapters 50 – 56
Day 18  July 11     Top Ten P&P editions in print

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Supper at the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history in four posts during the event. Her third contribution is on dinning at the Netherfield Ball. Learn all about what the guests would have been served at Mr. Bingley’s lavish multiple course meal.

“As for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round my cards.” – Charles Bingley, Pride and Prejudice

The sit-down supper served at the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice probably occurred around midnight. By that time, people would be famished after their physical exertions or from playing cards nonstop in the card room. They had most likely eaten their dinner between 3-5 p.m. (earlier in the country, and later in Town). Dinners consisted of between 5-16 dishes and could last several hours. The best families would serve up two courses, for a meal’s lavishness depended on the number of courses and dishes that were served. Dishes representing a range of foods, from soups to vegetables and meats, would be spread over the table in a pleasing arrangement and would be set down at the beginning of the meal.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49
Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen
Day 17  July 10     Group Read: Chapters 50 – 56

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 36-42: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 13 Giveaway

With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield. She read with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension, and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before her eyes. The Narrator, Chapter 36

Quick Synopsis

Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter analyzing every point to discover the truth. She does not agree that her sister Jane was indifferent to Bingley, but after Darcy’s account of his dealings with Wickham admonishers herself for being so blinded by prejudice. Until this moment she never knew herself. She returns to Longbourn to hear that the regiment is leaving for Brighton where Lydia wished to go as guest of Col & Mrs. Forster. Elizabeth strongly warns her father against it. She is “the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.” Mr. Bennet sees no harm, and Lydia is off to flirt with officers. Elizabeth departs with her aunt & uncle Gardiner for a tour of Derbyshire. They stay at Lambton where Mrs. Gardiner had previously lived. Pemberley is near by and she wished to see it again but Elizabeth is anxious not to see Darcy. She agrees to tour the estate only after learning the family is away, and to Pemberley they go.


Elizabeth’s reaction to the letter is a journey of discovery as she analyzes Mr. Darcy’s account against her own previous conclusions. At the beginning, she is prejudiced against him. She does not want to believe what he has shared about his assumptions about Jane’s indifference to Bingley or Mr. Wickham’s account of Darcy’s ill treatment of him. Like Elizabeth, I re-read Mr. Darcy’s letter and this chapter several times. There is so much to digest for her, and us, as we witness the process of her mind in weighing both sides of the story. Such strong reactions and disbelief on her part makes us resist – like her – that the information that Darcy has shared might be true. As she goes down every point there is a counterpoint in opposition that she presents. The tide in favor of her believing his explanations begins to turn when Mr. Darcy shares the story of his sister Georgiana’s romance and failed elopement with Mr. Wickham. The story does line up with events that she has learned the previous morning from Col Fitzwilliam.  She then recollects her encounters and conversations with Wickham and sees him in a new light.

She was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he (Mr. Wickham) had done, and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct. The Narrator. Chapter 36

And then she realizes her mistakes, and openly admits them to herself.

“How despicably have I acted!” she cried; “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 36

With that last statement, a heroine of the ages was born. Elizabeth might have been spirited, defiant and impertinent to a fault, but we have now witnessed her greatest asset, the ability to acknowledge her mistakes, admonish herself and see her life in a new light. This is the axis of the novel. The epiphany that Austen wanted us to experience and identify with. A universal truth that we should all know, but is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn. We are all fallible. What we do with our understanding of this is the measure of our life. If you take anything away with you from reading this novel, let it be this.

Wholly inattentive to her sister’s feelings, Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstacy, calling for every one’s congratulations, and laughing and talking with more violence than ever; whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repining at her fate in terms as unreasonable as her accent was peevish. The Narrator, Chapter 41

As if in complete opposition to Elizabeth having her break-through moment of growth and maturity, Austen changes the focus of the story to silly Lydia, her quest for officers and the Brighton scheme. And what a divergence we are presented with. Unguarded, imprudent and wildly exuberant, Lydia is so out of control that Elizabeth warns her father that at “she will at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.” No kidding! Unfortunately, he would prefer not to deal with her and sees the advantage of allowing her to go to Brighton and expose herself in public with as little cost or inconvenience to her family. Despicable parenting. Obviously, the “put blinders on and let them run wild philosophy” was born long before the “me” generation took all the credit for it. I think Lydia was their original poster girl! This passage certainly confirms it.

She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp — its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once. The Narrator, Chapter 41

La! So Lydia departs for Brighton with Col and Mrs. Forster. Out of sight, out of mind. Elizabeth deals with the gloom, misery and lamentations in her household of Kitty and Mrs. Bennet’s grief over the regiment moving to Brighton by looking forward to her trip to the Lakes with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. Their plans change and their travel is redirected to Derbyshire where Mrs. Gardiner formerly lived. She wished to see the beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak once again. Apprehensive about entering the same county as Mr. Darcy’s main residence, Elizabeth and the Gardiners depart on their journey north in pursuit of novelty and amusement. They bend their steps toward Lambton, Mrs. Gardiner’s former residence, and her aunt informs her that Pemberley is only five miles away. She has an inclination to see it again. Elizabeth does not. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy while viewing his home would be dreadful. Getting the low down on the Darcy family from the people in the know (the chambermaid) she is assured that the family is away and sees no harm in viewing a grand estate that she has heard so much about. With all of her alarms removed – “To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 13 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Longman’s Cultural edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what Elizabeth’s announcement “Till this moment I never knew myself.” means to you or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 14  July 05     Food at the Netherfield Ball
Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49
Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: A Closer Look at Carriages and Characters in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Mags from AustenBlog who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency history. Today she explores who drives what in P&P and why. Elizabeth may object to traveling fifty miles from Kent to Hertfordshire, but what is fifty miles of good road if you have a fine carriage? (or Henry Tilney to drive you)

An author—especially a talented and clever one like Jane Austen—subtly imparts information about her characters with details such as their occupation, their mode of conversation, and even something seemingly so minor as their carriage. In Pride and Prejudice, the alert reader can pick up information not only about the characters but about the plot itself from the type of carriage used by a character in a particular situation.

In Jane Austen’s day, a carriage was definitely a luxury item. They were expensive to purchase, naturally, and there were ongoing expenses in repair, storage, coachmen to care for and operate them, and the ongoing expenses of maintaining or renting horses to pull them; so it was a matter of interest to the impertinently nosy whether a person kept a carriage, and what kind. It was almost a method of broadcasting one’s wealth to the world.

“I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess how it was; every body says that he is ate up with pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise.”

Not that he isn’t capable of snobbery, but one suspects Mr. Darcy doesn’t particularly care about Mrs. Long and her carriage or lack thereof, and had plenty of other reasons not to talk to that lady at the Meryton assembly. Mrs. Bennet is here perhaps passing off her own personal snobbery onto Darcy.

Continue reading at AustenBlog

Further reading

Upcoming events posts

Day 13  July 03     Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42
Day 14  July 05     Music at the Netherfield Ball
Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 29-35: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 11 Giveaway

Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence. The Narrator, Chapter 29

Quick Synopsis

The grandeur of Rosings Park foretold by Mr. Collins is felt by the Hunsford party, though Elizabeth is equal to Lady Catherine’s authoritative air by astonishing her with her decided opinions and impertinent replies. Nothing is beneath the great Lady’s notice by officiating over her community and scolding them into harmony. While Elizabeth plays the pianoforte she teases Darcy about his behavior while in Hertfordshire. He exclaims that neither of them perform to strangers. Darcy visits the Parsonage frequently. Charlotte thinks he is in love with her friend, though Elizabeth disagrees. Elizabeth learns from Col Fitzwilliam that Darcy contrived to divide her sister Jane from Mr. Bingley. Darcy visits Elizabeth alone at Hunsford and proposes despite his objection to her family. She refuses him, explaining that he is the last man in world she would be prevailed upon to marry. The next day Darcy presents her with a letter explaining the offenses against him made by her. He admits to separating Mr. Bingley and Jane. He did however honor his father’s request and paid Wickham for the living in the church he chose not to take. Wickham squanders the money and then plans an elopement with Georgiana, Darcy’s sister for her money and to injure him. He has faithfully revealed all and closes by adding “God bless you.”


So we meet the grand Lady of Rosings Park and she is as conceited and officious as Elizabeth expected. It is evident why she chose toady Mr. Collins as the parson for her parish. She needs the distinction of rank to be upheld and he does enough kowtowing for all of her subjects. When they arrive for dinner Sir William Lucas who has seen the grandeur of St. James (the King’s palace) is in awe, Maria Lucas almost frightened out of her senses and Elizabeth equal to the scene. Lady Catherine quizzes Charlotte on her household management correcting and advising her, then turns her attention to Elizabeth attempting to pick apart her family and upbringing. No governess? All of the five of the daughters are “out”? Elizabeth replies to her interrogations coolly and defiantly. Lady Catherine tells her she gives her opinion very decidedly for being so young and asks her age. Coyly Elizabeth will not own it. Lady Catherine is astonished at anyone not answering her directly. We will later learn during the famous pianoforte scene with Col Fitwilliam and Mr. Darcy that nothing intimidates her.

“You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? But I will not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 31

This interaction at Rosings between Elizabeth, Col Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy is one of my favorite scenes in the novel. Darcy sees his cousin Col Fitzwilliam paying attention to Elizabeth. He sees Elizabeth enjoying his company and showing him more attention than he has ever drawn. He is jealous and ready to enter closer into the sphere of her affection and joins them at the pianoforte. She immediately puts him in his place in front of his cousin by reminding him of how badly he behaved to the “savages” in Hertfordshire, dancing only with his immediate friends and talking to no one. He attempts to justify his behavior by explaining that he is ill suited to recommend himself to strangers. She is not buying any of it and retorts that she does not play the piano as well as she should because she does not practice (implying that if he does not extend the effort to converse with new people and be civil in a ball room he will never be able to improve). He knows she is right, and that is the turning point of their relationship. Until that moment he had the upper hand in his eyes. By Elizabeth openly defying his aunt and calling out his bad behavior in front of his cousin it is the beginning of him being “duly humbled”. His attraction to Elizabeth has been heightened by her impertinence.

“What can be the meaning of this?” said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. “My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way.” Charlotte Collins, Chapter 32

Wise and pragmatic Charlotte sees all. Whenever she speaks to Elizabeth throughout the novel (and it is not often) it is like a warning bell, a foreshadowing of what Elizabeth is blind to, and her insights usually come to pass. Mr. Darcy and Col Fitzwilliam visit the Parsonage every day. Mr. Darcy also seeks Elizabeth out during her solitary walks and their conversations are puzzling to her. His train of thought seems distracted and disjointed. His conversations in the past especially at Netherfield were well reasoned and composed. This is much different behavior than what we have seen in the past. For someone who boasts that she is a keen observer of personalities, she is not putting the pieces together. She easily converses with Col Fitzwilliam while Mr. Darcy is silent and observant when they visit the Parsonage together. Charlotte watches Mr. Darcy and concludes that the main reason why he calls is because he is in love with her friend. Elizabeth does not believe her until Mr. Darcy arrives at the Parsonage alone and proposes to her.

“In vain have I 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.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 34

His abrupt declaration astonishes Elizabeth. He then proceeds to insult her by telling her that he loves her against his better judgment, against reason and decorum. She was just learned from Col. Fitzwilliam that Mr. Darcy used his influence to divide his friend Mr. Bingley from her sister Jane. She is angry with him even before he insults her with his blundering proposal. The scene may be one of the most riveting in Austen’s canon. The dialogue is so sharp, so abrasive that even after many re-readings it never fails to give me goose bumps. Her last retort is so cutting and so incisive that I feel the wound to Mr. Darcy’s pride much more keenly than I do to Elizabeth’s.

“From the very beginning — from the first moment, I may almost say — of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 34


And then, the next day he presents the letter to her. He cares enough about Elizabeth’s good opinion to try to clear his name and apologize for one of the two offences she has lain against him. I love his opening line as he tries to disarm reproof.

“Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten;” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 35

So he does not want to renew his proposal, but he feels compelled by pride to explain and defend himself. Interesting. I would say that both of them like to have the last word. Elizabeth definitely won the first round by turning down a wealthy man on principle with her last cutting remark, now we shall see if Mr. Darcy can top it. As he explains his involvement in dividing Jane from Mr. Bingley he slowly builds his case. He did notice Mr. Bingley’s preference for Jane, but she did not appear to return it. The general expectation of their marriage was alarming to him and Mr. Bingley’s sisters and he freely admits to saving his friend from a most unhappy connection by encouraging him to leaving for London and further influencing him not to return to Netherfield. He also admits to concealing his knowledge of Jane being in London from Mr. Bingley. Being an honorable gentleman he apologizes for causing any pain to her sister Jane. Regarding ruining Mr. Wickham’s prospects, he offers no apologies, only the detailed truth. He honored his father’s recommendation in his will to provide Wickham with the church living, but Wickham declined to take orders and took the cash instead. Wickham then goes off and lives a life of dissipation and vice returning to Mr. Darcy after three years expecting him to instate him in the living that he previously declined and was compensated for. When Mr. Darcy refuses, he turns his attentions upon his younger sister Georgiana romancing her into an elopement. His chief object was unquestionably her 30,000 pound fortune as revenge on Mr. Darcy. This was his faithful narrative of every event between them.

After both the heated proposal and the emotional letter, Darcy concludes with a salutation to Elizabeth that befits his position and gentlemanlike behavior:  wishing her health and happiness and finally “God bless you.”

Ok Jane Austen. You really know how to make us weep.

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 11 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of the Oxford’s Worlds Classic edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating if you think you think Elizabeth was too harsh in her rejection of Mr. Darcy’s proposal or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 12  July 02     Carriages in Pride and Prejudice
Day 13  July 03     Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42
Day 14  July 05     Music at the Netherfield Ball

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Dancing at the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history in four posts during the event. Her second contribution is on dancing at the Netherfield Ball covering the etiquette and the popular dances of the day. Enjoy!

“So, he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger …” Mrs. Bennet about Mr. Bingley at The Netherfield Ball.

The English ballroom and assembly room was the courting field upon which gentlemen and ladies on the marriage mart could finally touch one another and spend some time conversing during their long sets or ogle each other without seeming to be too forward or brash. Dancing was such an important social event during the Georgian and Regency eras that girls and boys practiced complicated dance steps with dancing masters and memorized the rules of ballroom etiquette.

Balls were regarded as social experiences, and gentlemen were tasked to dance with as many ladies as they could. This is one reason why Mr. Darcy’s behavior was considered rude at the Meryton Ball- there were several ladies, as Elizabeth pointed out to him and Colonel Fitzwilliam at Rosings, who had to sit out the dance.

“He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner.”

Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, danced every dance and thus behaved as a gentleman should.

Ladies had to wait passively for a partner to approach them and when they were, they were then obliged to accept the invitation. One reason why Elizabeth was so vexed when Mr. Collins, who had solicited her for the first two dances at the Netherfield Ball, was that she’d intended to reserve them for Mr. Wickham. Had she refused Mr. Collins, she would have been considered not only rude, but she would have forced to sit out the dances for the rest of the evening.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

Further reading

    Upcoming event posts

    Day 10  June 30     Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
    Day 11  July 02     Carriages in Pride and Prejudice
    Day 12  July 03     Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42

    Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapter 22-28: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 9 Giveaway

    Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. The Narrator, Chapter 22

    Quick Synopsis

    Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins redirects his affections to her and he proposes. Elizabeth thinks it impossible, but Charlotte claims she is not romantic and only requires a comfortable home. Mrs. Bennet does not believe it either and thinks the Lucas’ are schemers and everyone has treated her barbarously. Mr. Collins returns to Kent. Caroline Bingley writes from London to Jane putting an end to any doubt of her brother Charles’ return to Netherfield in the near future, if ever. Elizabeth is certain that the Bingley sisters and Darcy have contrived to part Jane from him. Mrs. Gardiner and her family arrive for Christmas. She warns Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham. He has no money and it would be imprudent. Mr. Collins and Charlotte marry, departing for Hunsford. Jane returns with the Gardiners to London. Weeks pass and no sign of Caroline Bingley or her brother there. She gives up hope agrees she has been duped. Elizabeth will visit Charlotte, traveling to London to visit Jane and the Gardiners on the way. Wickham’s attentions are now away from her and on an heiress Miss King. The Gardiners invite Elizabeth to tour the Lakes with them next spring. Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford to find Mr. Collins as pompous as ever and Charlotte tolerant.


    The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. The Narrator, Chapter 23

    So the Lucas’ are schemers after the Bennet fortune. This is Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the news of Charlotte’s marriage to Mr. Collins. Both she and her daughter Elizabeth are incredulous when they are told the news. Mr. Collins has within three days asked two women to marry him. Charlotte saw her chance after Elizabeth refused him and even though Elizabeth thinks she has not chosen well, Charlotte thinks quite the contrary. “I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connexions, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” Does this point of view appear mercenary? Yes, and no. Her fiancé is a silly, pompous fool, but she will have her own home and not be a burden to her family. Even in today’s modern world it seems quite practical to me, though I would not choose it personally. Lizzy wants only to marry for love so she thinks Charlotte’s settling for Mr. Collins is impossible.  Both ladies personal choices are a gamble. But in life and love, a sure bet is never a certain thing.

    “There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 24

    Romantic disappointment is in the air. So, Jane has been jilted by Bingley, Mr. Collins refused by Elizabeth, Charlotte settles for a loveless life with Mr. Collins and Elizabeth must give up Wickham because he has no money and it would be an imprudent match. No wonder Elizabeth is getting cynical and is dissatisfied with the world. Her conversations with her aunt Gardiner see her sharing thoughts openly on romance and the reality of finances in courtship. Money seems to be fueling the plot. Darcy’s fortune makes him proud and disagreeable to all. Bingley’s fortune makes him agreeable but Jane Bennet the young woman he is interested in lack of fortune makes her unworthy in his family and friends eyes. Charlotte has no money and must accept an odious, pompous man who will inherit the Bennet estate. Wickham is badmouthing Darcy because he feels cheated out of his fortune. Elizabeth is attracted to Wickham but the match would be imprudent because he has no money, nor does she. Wickham must instead chase after a young woman who until she became an heiress, was of no interest to him. What a muddle.

    “Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

    This question is answered when Elizabeth visits her newly married friend Charlotte at her home with Mr. Collins in Hunsford. It appears from the outside that Charlotte has what she craved; she is the mistress of her own home. Her discretion in marrying Mr. Collins with all of his flaws and foibles was questionable to Elizabeth, but it has given Charlotte the financial security and satisfaction that will not burden her family. Some may view this as avarice, but she thought it quite prudent. It will take Elizabeth a bit longer to see the practicality of it for her friend, even though she may never apply the philosophy to herself.

    “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

    Amen. Let’s all go to the Lakes instead!

    Further reading

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 9 Giveaway

    Enter a chance to win one copy of the Norton Critical Edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating if you think Charlotte Lucas was mercenary in her choice of Mr. Collins as a husband or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

    Upcoming event posts

    Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
    Day 11  June 30     Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
    Day 12  July 02      Carriages in P&P

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Applying to the Housekeeper, Country House Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era

    “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

    Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Julie from Austenonly, a Regency history buff and Jane Austen aficionado of the first order.  Her first of two contributions during the event takes us on a similar journey that Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle Gardiner might have experienced on their tour through Derbyshire touring grand country houses.

    Tourism in the United Kingdom, visiting grand country houses and the untamed countryside, developed apace in the 18th century. The diaries of the period reflect this trend containing as they do many, many accounts of visiting differing parts of the country, and of course, the trip that the Gardiners and Elizabeth Bennet make to Derbyshire in Pride and Prejudice is an example of the typical tour that those who could afford to would want to make. Their original destination, The Lakes of Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire, were terribly popular.

    The Gardiner’s second choice, Derbyshire, was almost as celebrated.

    Why this growth in domestic tourism? First, because of the developments in travel: if you couldn’t “get” to a country house/pleasant vale easily you simply couldn’t visit it. Improved roads-both routes and road surfaces- and the system of posting horse and carriages for hire, made travel easier for those who could afford it.  Secondly, The Grand Tour of Europe, as undertaken by Edward Knight, Jane Austen’s brother, was tourism on a grand lavishly expensive and foreign scale, but it became impossible to complete. The wars with Napoleon curtailed safe travel to Europe to a large extent, and so people turned to touring England and Wales for leisure and educational purposes.

    Continue reading on Austenonly

    Further reading

    Upcoming event posts

    Day 09  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28
    Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
    Day 11  June 30      Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35

    Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 15-21: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 7 Giveaway

    Elizabeth, happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour; one looked white, the other red. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat — a salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned to return. What could be the meaning of it? The Narrator, Chapter 15

    Quick Synopsis

    Mr. Collins has designs on marrying one of the Bennet daughters. The ladies walk to Meryton and are introduced to Mr. Wickham. Bingley and Darcy arrive to join the group. Elizabeth notices Darcy and Wickham’s reaction when they meet. At a card party at the Phillips’, Wickham reveals his history with Mr. Darcy who has treated him badly, ruining his future. This confirms Elizabeth’s dislike of him. The Bennet’s and Mr. Collins attend the Netherfield Ball. Elizabeth dances with Mr. Darcy and she tries to analyses his character which puzzles her exceedingly. Jane and Bingley’s romance progresses. Elizabeth is embarrassed by her family’s inappropriate behavior in front of Darcy and the Bingley sisters. Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth. She refuses, much to Mrs. Bennet’s displeasure. A letter arrives from Caroline Bingley. The Netherfield party has departed for London with no immediate plans to return. Elizabeth blames the snooty Bingley sisters for parting them. Jane is heartbroken. Mrs. Bennet is despondent.


    Even though Mr. Collins is not a sensible man, Mrs. Bennet’s ill opinion of him changes to favorable once she realizes he is wife hunting at Longbourn. He fancies Jane, but she redirects his attention to Elizabeth, her most ill-suited daughter for his needs. This is a great example of her ineptitude in reading personalities. Her daughter Elizabeth who claims to be a student on the subject observes Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham’s reaction when they first meet on the street in Meryton. One turns white and the other red. Which turns what color has long been a favorite Janeite debate. My bet is on Darcy turning white with horror and Wickham red with embarrassment. You can throw your theory into the ring! We learn a bit more about the Bennet’s aunt Phillips and how the grape vine worked so efficiently in Regency times.

    Mrs. Philips a very attentive listener, whose opinion of his consequence increased with what she heard, and who was resolving to retail it all among her neighbours as soon as she could. The Narrator, Chapter 16

    Since communication is by word of mouth or by written letter, visiting their aunt in Meryton for news would be the big event of the day for the Bennet ladies. Mrs. Phillips seems to be the hub of information gathering bits from friends, servants and townsfolk and passing it on. Her party is swimming with news and information. Everyone is enamored with Wickham’s gentlemanlike appearance and all the ladies are eager for his attention, but Elizabeth is the lucky lady. I wonder why he selected her to confide his ill-treatment by Darcy? Because she quickly reveals her dislike of him? On first acquaintance he reveals way too much information for my comfort, but Elizabeth is all ears and eager to side with him against Darcy. We know that Elizabeth is clever and observant, but gullible too? In her defense, his story is so believable. Every question she raises that might challenge the validity is met with a plausible explanation. Why not expose Darcy’s bad behavior to others?He does not want to sully the memory of old Mr. Darcy’s fondness for him. Why can’t he seek legal recourse? There is just such an impediment in the will to prevent it. His story makes him out to be an honorable gentleman and Darcy proud and spiteful. Elizabeth leaves the party satisfied with more information to confirm her beliefs about Darcy and her head full of Mr. Wickham.

    “To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 18

    The Netherfield Ball sees a confident Elizabeth sparing with Mr. Darcy for her own gratification and then the tables turning on her when her family’s inappropriate behavior embarrasses her in front of him and the Bingley sisters. I have long admired chapter 18 as one of the best that Austen has written. Everything about it just shines. The set-up, the dialogue and the outcome are one of three important axis’ of the novel. The conversation of Elizabeth and Darcy while they dance is eye popping. You can just see the sparks fly. She has gone way beyond playful and is duly impertinent.

    “I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 18

    She and the community have called Mr. Darcy proud and arrogant, but she has sunk to that precipice in her indignant goading of Mr. Darcy. She is mocking him. She cannot make out his character. It puzzles her exceedingly. What? She knows exactly what his character is and it has been confirmed by Wickham’s story. She is pleased with herself and above her company until the tide turns with Sir William Lucas’ comment to Darcy about Jane and Bingley’s impending marriage. Now her family’s inappropriate behavior will embarrass her into reality. Her mother brags too loudly about the benefits of Jane and Bingley’s marriage throwing other rich men in the path of her other daughters, Mary plays and sings so badly that her father asks her to stop to let other young ladies exhibit, Lydia and Kitty are chasing after officers and Mr. Collins decides to introduce himself to Mr. Darcy even though they have not been formally introduced. Horrors, mortification and shame.

    That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should have such an opportunity of ridiculing her relations, was bad enough, and she could not determine whether the silent contempt of the gentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were more intolerable. The Narrator, Chapter 18

    Much has been written about Mr. Collins’ proposal to Elizabeth and I will be brief. His pompous reasons for marrying and his lack of feelings for Elizabeth are evident. Her turn down is a warm up to what we all know is coming. (No spoilers for first timers, I promise) The effusive language that Austen chooses to use for him is just so perfect. He talks just to hear his own voice. No less than five times he is not dissuaded by her refusal. Is he listening? No, and that is the beauty of his conceit for our enjoyment and Elizabeth’s exasperation. He and Mrs. Bennet have a lot in common in that respect. They both talk for their own gratification, certain that their way is the best. Mr. Bennet seems to pick this up and is amused by their absurd behavior. When his wife insists that he convince Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins, and then the opposite happens, he gets the last say. It is one of the best examples of Austen’s brilliant use of irony.

    “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.” Mr. Bennet, Chapter 20

    And then the other shoe drops. All of Elizabeth’s fears about her family’s crass behavior come to fruition. The Netherfield party departs for London and with them, Jane’s romance and Mrs. Bennet’s hopes of a daughter happily married. Ugh.

    Further reading

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 7 Giveaway

    Enter a chance to win one copy of the Insight Edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what is your favorite scene at the Netherfield Ball or which is your favorite quote from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

    Upcoming event posts

    Day 08  June 25     Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era
    Day 09  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28
    Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Dressing for the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice: Regency Fashion

    Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history. Her first of four contributions during the event analyzes the costumes worn at the Netherfield Ball in three movie adaptations in comparison to the fashions of the day.

    The Netherfield Ball. Ah! How much of Jane Austen’s plot for Pride and Prejudice put on show  in this chapter! Elizabeth Bennet – its star – enters the ball room hoping for a glimpse of a strangely absent Mr. Wickham, but is forced to dance two dances with bumblefooted Mr. Collins, whose presence she somehow can’t seem to shake. (From his actions the astute reader comes to understand that this irritating man will be proposing soon.)

    Mr. Darcy then solicits Lizzie for a dance, and his aloofness and awkward silences during their set confirms in Lizzie’s mind that he suffers from a superiority complex. As the evening progresses her family’s behavior is so appalling (Mary hogs the pianoforte with her awful playing; Kitty and Lydia are boisterously flirtatious with the militia men; and Mrs. Bennet brazenly proclaims to all within earshot that Mr. Bingley and Jane are as good as engaged) that the only enjoyment Lizzie takes away from the event is in the knowledge that Mr. Bingley is as besotted with Jane as she is with him.

    In anticipation of furthering her acquaintance with Mr. Wickham, Lizzie probably dressed with extreme care, making sure both her dress and hair looked perfect. In the image below, Jennifer Ehle’s “wig” is adorned with silk flower accessories, and a string of pearls, which was the fashion of the time. She wears a simple garnet cross at her throat (Jane Austen owned one made of topaz) and her dress shows off her figure to perfection.

    Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

    Further reading

    Upcoming event posts

    Day 7  June 23     Group Read: Chapters 15-21
    Day 8  June 25     Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era
    Day 9  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28

    Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 8-14: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 4 Giveaway

    “There is meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 8

    Quick Synopsis

    Elizabeth stays at Netherfield to tend to her ailing sister Jane. The Bingley sisters take every opportunity to criticize her manners to the gentlemen though they do not agree. Caroline chides Darcy about Elizabeth’s fine eyes and low connections. Mrs. Bennet arrives to check on Jane. To Elizabeth’s embarrassment, her mother compliments Bingley and insults Darcy. Elizabeth observes Darcy watching her but cares too little about him to seek his approbation. He is bewitched and if not for the inferiority of her family he would be in serious danger of falling in love. Elizabeth tells him his defect is to hate everyone. He tells her that hers is to willfully misunderstand them. Elizabeth and Jane return home and shortly after their pompous cousin Mr. Collins arrives to offer the olive-branch of friendship to heal the family riff over the entailment. His patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh advises him to marry with discretion. Mrs. Bennet thinks him odious until she realizes he is a possible son-in-law.


    What a pill Caroline Bingley is. So much of the tone of the conversation in chapters 8-12 is driven by her. As soon as Elizabeth leaves the room she attacks her manners. This happens several times. When she does say something positive it is a back handed compliment. She allows her to be a good walker and then claims her scampering about the muddy countryside to visit her sister is conceited independence. She tries to get Mr. Darcy to agree with her assessment of her bad behavior by mocking his admiration of her fine eyes but he defies her insult by complimenting them. In fact, almost every conversation in which Caroline attempts to insult and disparage Elizabeth to Darcy, he counteracts her. Much of the bad behavior that she accuses Elizabeth of, she is in fact exhibited herself.

    “Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, “is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art.” Caroline Bingley, Chapter 8

    The scenes at Netherfield are some of my favorites in the novel. It is all about observations, evaluating personality and actions, and disagreeing with opinions. Caroline and Louisa see only fault with Elizabeth and says so to the gentlemen repeatedly. Charles never agrees and Darcy rarely. Bingley did not notice Elizabeth’s petticoat three inches in mud. He does not agree that her arrival at Netherfield was impertinent. Caroline mockingly accuses Elizabeth of despising cards taking pleasure in nothing because she prefers to read at that moment. Elizabeth disagrees. Bingley defends her by noticing that she takes pleasure in tending to her sister. Charles Bingley thinks all young ladies are accomplished. Caroline disagrees listing what skills an accomplished lady possesses:

    “a through knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.” Caroline Bingley, Chapter 8

    Elizabeth is surprised at them knowing anyone to fill that list. She has never seen such a woman. Elizabeth thinks poetry drives away love. Darcy thinks poetry is the food of love. Darcy asks Elizabeth if she is inspired by the music to dance a reel. She defiantly replies in a classic put down that she did not respond because if she said yes, he could despise her taste. She prefers to cheat a person out of that satisfaction and dares him to despise her. He does not. Darcy states that when his “good opinion once lost is lost forever.” Elizabeth cannot laugh at him for being implacably resentful. He thinks people have a tendency toward defects which education cannot overcome. She tells him his defect is to hate everybody. He replies that hers is to “willfully misunderstand them.” There are other examples. Every conversation is laced with divergent opinions. It’s like a tennis match. Back and forth. It makes for great dialogue. Austen verbal sparring at its finest.

    “He (Mr. Collins) must be an oddity, I think,” said she, “I cannot make him out. There is something very pompous in his style. — And what can he mean by apologizing for being next in the entail? — We cannot suppose he would help it if he could. — Can he be a sensible man, sir?”

    “No, my dear; I think not. I have great hopes of finding him (Mr. Collins) quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him.” Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet, Chapter 13

    Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn and through him we will learn a lot about Mr. Bennet. His cousin is to inherit his estate by entail. This fact is distressful to Mrs. Bennet who even after years of explanation does not understand how her home will be given to a male cousin and not her daughters when her husband dies. Even though she has not met Mr. Collins she declares him an odious man until his letter reveals a glimmer of hope. He could be a possible son-in-law and she could stay in her home. His letter to Mr. Bennet offering the olive-branch over the family dispute regarding the entail and inviting himself to stay at Longbourn is one of Austen’s best. His pompous language sends up a red flag to Lizzy, who has admitted to being a keen studier of character, intricate ones being the most amusing. Mr. Collins is definitely intricate, to the point of exhaustion. When he finally arrives, Mr. Bennet cannot resist testing him and goads him into talking about his esteemed patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

    “I am happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies. I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine, that her charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank, instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her. These are the kind of little things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay.” Mr. Collins, Chapter 14

    What a toad. Lest we be disappointed, he might also lick her boots. This is just fuel to the fire for Mr. Bennet, who like his daughter Elizabeth, dearly loves to laugh at follies and nonsense. Since she thinks like him, this may be why she is his favorite daughter. They have similar personalities in that respect. The fact that he prompts Mr. Collins into revealing his prepping complements in advance is just too hilarious.

    Mr. Bennet’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure. The Narrator, Chapter 14


    Further reading

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 4 Giveaway

    Enter a chance to win one copy of Harper Collins Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating which is your favorite scene from Netherfield Park or which is your favorite quote from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

    Upcoming Event Posts

    Day 5 – June 20 P&P (Naxos Audio) Review
    Day 6 – June 21 Fashions at the Netherfield Ball
    Day 7 – June 23 Group Read: Chapters 15-21

    Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 1-7: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 2 Giveaway

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. The Narrator, Chapter 1

    Quick Synopsis

    Charles Bingley, a single man of good fortune lets the estate of Netherfield Park, bringing his two fashionable sisters and rich friend Mr. Darcy into the social sphere of the Bennet family of Longbourn, local gentry who have five daughters to marry off with little dowry. Bingley is immediately attracted to eldest sister Jane, but Mr. Darcy finds no beauty in anyone and snubs second daughter Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. His proud airs and arrogant manners give offense to all. The ladies of Longbourn visit the supercilious Bingley sisters at Netherfield. Elizabeth and Darcy cross paths. He is intrigued by her spirit and fine eyes. She thinks him disagreeable and proud. Mrs. Bennet brags about Jane and Bingley’s romance, convinced they will marry. Charlotte Lucas is not so certain. Jane is invited to Netherfield arriving on horseback in the rain, catching a cold. Elizabeth visits her having walked 3 miles in the mud. The Bingley sisters are appalled by her appearance, but ask her to stay to tend to her sister.


    For as many times as I have seen the often over-quoted first line of Pride and Prejudice it still makes me laugh. Its verbal irony just sets the tone of the novel and makes me value Austen’s skill as a storyteller all the more. Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, two wealthy and eligible bachelors, do not enter the neighborhood in want of a wife. Quite the contrary. That they should be the rightful property of one of the local daughters is the truth universally acknowledged. It is the ladies of the community who are in need of a husband. A good match was what was expected of a young lady, and Mrs. Bennet with her five daughters, little dowry and an entailed estate is determined that it will happen. The fact that two such eligible gentlemen land unannounced in a neighborhood with few other local prospects is a gold mine to her, and every other mother in the county. No wonder she is in frenzy and determined to beat the other local families to his door. Mr. Bennet is nonplused. He would rather stay in his library than do his duty to his family, keeping them in suspense with the news that he has already introduced himself to his new neighbor. When Mr. Bingley and his party do appear at the Meryton Assembly, only one of the two gentlemen makes the cut. Bingley is amiable and agreeable, dancing and socializing. A true good catch. But his friend Mr. Darcy, though handsome, and richer, gives immediate offense to all with his arrogance and pride.

    His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. The Narrator, Chapter 3

    When he snubs our heroine Elizabeth Bennet by calling her only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him to dance, we know that this black mark will not be easy to erase. I have always been puzzled that the community would be so quick to condemn him just based on his haughty demeanor. Money and social standing can be a strong equalizer of any shortfall. It is easy to forgive a rich man his offenses because, he has all the power. Wise Charlotte Lucas sees this and tells her friend Lizzy so, though in a round-about-way.

    “His pride,” said Miss Lucas, “does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.”

    “That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 5

    That Mrs. Bennet is so quick to disqualify Darcy as a prospect for one of her daughters is amusing. Both Bingley and Darcy are rich and socially connected, yet she is vehemently opposed to Darcy because of his arrogant manners. In the Regency world, that is not prudent. Austen is showing us that Mrs. Bennet is not a clever woman, or she would be scheming to win his favor for one of her girls. Charlotte Lucas on the other hand reveals to Elizabeth how the world really works. Elizabeth who has declared she will only marry for love is quick to disqualify Darcy for her own personal reasons. He has wounded her pride by calling her only tolerable. She instantly agrees with her mother on her assessment of him. “I believe, ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.” Austen is showing us Elizabeth’s rash judgment in siding with her mother. We know from Mrs. Bennet’s previous conversations that she is not the best judge of character or the sharpest knife in the drawer. Elizabeth is clever. For her to succumb to her mother’s level is a red flag.

    Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. The Narrator, Chapter 6

    Hmm? Darcy is changing his tact? Why? What intrigues him about Elizabeth enough to admit his interest in a young lady of no wealth and little consequence to his friends? That opens himself up for attack. Elizabeth notices him watching her and is puzzled. Her reaction is to harden her line of defense. “He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him.” Then in an act of total defiance she refuses to dance with him when he finally asks her, walking away in triumph. Nice psychological interchange here. Unknowingly, Elizabeth has just given him the strongest reasons to want her. Her indifference and rejection. It’s as old as the ages and works every time. Men cannot stand to lose. They love the chase. We know how much this has affected him when of all people, he admits to Caroline Bingley that he admires her fine eyes. Bold strategy to derail Caroline’s interest in him, or the impulse of smitten man? Caroline’s reaction is classic female counteract. Deride your opponent. “I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? — and pray, when am I to wish you joy?”  Ouch.

    “I admire the activity of your benevolence,” observed Mary, “but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Mary Bennet, Chapter 7

    Just a brief word on Mary Bennet. A minor character, she only has eight passages of lines in the novel. This is one of her best. On the few occasions that she does speak, they are gems of ironic subjection. A giant punctuation point of out-of-sync advice that never fails to roll my eyes. Hear, hear for the clueless, the inept, and the oblivious! Thanks for the laughs Mary.

    Further reading

    ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 2 Giveaway

    Enter a chance to win one copy of Barnes & Noble Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Mr. Darcy’s change of heart toward Elizabeth, or which is your favorite quote from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

    Upcoming Event Posts

    Day 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
    Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapters 8-14
    Day 5 – June 20 P&P (Naxos Audio) Review

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