A Very Brief Outline Of
Pride and Prejudice
- Mr. Bennet, Father of five daughters
- Mrs. Bennet, His opinionated wife
- Elizabeth, Their intelligent middle daughter, Mr. Bennet’s favorite child
- Jane, Elizabeth’s beautiful older sister
- Lydia, The Bennet’s impetuous youngest daughter
- Mr. Bingley, Jane’s rich and amiable suitor
- Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s arrogant and wealthy friend
- Reverend Collins, a conceited bore, cousin to the Bennets
- Mr. Wickham, an army officer
Mrs. Bennet felt delighted that Netherfield Park, a nearby estate,
was again rented, and was especially pleased upon hearing that its new
occupant, Mr. Bingley, was single and rich. "What a fine thing for our
girls!", she beamed. She begged her husband to go make the acquaintance
of their new neighbor, and, after some teasing, Mr. Bennet did pay
Bingley a call. Mr. Bingley soon returned the visit but did not
manage to meet any of the beautiful young women he had heard so much
It was not until an assembly dance two weeks later that he was to
meet them. Arriving with his two sisters, Louisa and Caroline,
Louisa’s husband and Bingley’s friend Mr. Darcy,
they were soon the talk of the room. Everyone at the assembly was impressed with Bingley’s
fine appearance and gracious manners. However, his close friend Mr.
Darcy, though well-to-do, was not viewed favorably. "His manners
gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity." His pride
ruled and ruined his conversation - particularly for Elizabeth.
When Bingley suggested that Darcy ask Elizabeth to dance, Elizabeth
indignnantly overheard Mr. Darcy reply that she was "tolerable; but
not handsome enough to tempt me." However, Bingley and Jane were soon
drawn to one another, even though Mr. Bingley’s two haughty sisters
saw Jane as beneath their brother. They pretended great fondness for
Jane, but Elizabeth easily saw through their hypocrisy.
The following day, as the Bennet women sat and discussed the prior
evening’s party, all were in agreement as to both Bingley’s charm and
Darcy’s coarseness. "I could easily have forgotten his pride",
Elizabeth huffed, "if he had not mortified mine."
In a matter of days, the ladies of Netherfield and those of the
Bennet’s Longbourne estate had exchanged visits. "By Jane this
attention was received with great pleasure; but Elizabeth still saw
superciliousness in their treatment of everybody ..... and could not
like them." Bingley’s sisters took and equal dislike to Elizabeth.
One morning Jane received an invitation from the Bingley girls to
spend the day. Mrs. Bennet viewed this as an opportunity for Jane
and Mr. Bingley to get better acquainted. "It seems likely to rain",
she said hopefully,"and then you must spend the night."
Elizabeth, on the following morning received a note from Jane
explaining that she had contracted a fever. When Elizabeth arrived
at Netherfield after a muddy three-mile walk, she was quite a sight,
"with weary ankles, dirty stockings and a face glowing with the warmth
of exercise." The Bingley sisters giggled, but Mr. Darcy seemed
concerned to see her in that state. Privately, he found her charming,
though, of course, still inferior due to her family connections.
Elizabeth immediately set about attending to her sister’s needs.
The two girls were compelled to remain a few days at Netherfield.
One evening Elizabeth sat quietly reading a book in the home’s
front room. She was quick to notice that one of Bingley’s sisters
seemed quite fond of Mr. Darcy. As he sat writing a letter, Caroline
insisted on complementing him "either on his handwriting, or on the
eveness of his lines, or on the length of his letter." Mr. Darcy
strained to ignore her comments, which greatly amused Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy bantered back and forth, with Elizabeth
usually coming out on top.
With Jane recovered from her illness, the Bennet women returned
home. And soon, the Bennet’s had a visitor of their own.
The Reverend Collins had written his distant cousin at Longbourne to request the
pleasure of a brief visit, and Mr. Bennet was inclined to honor the
request. At first Mrs. Bennet was unhappy with the prospect of
Collins’ visit; since the Bennet’s had no male children, Collins
stood next in line to inherit their estate, and she felt sure that
he was coming to lord it over his cousins. But when the letter went
on to explain that the Reverend’s intent was to seek a suitable wife
among the daughters, Mrs. Bennet’s attitude quickly changed.
Mr. Collins arrived. However his advances toward the Bennet girls
lacked both grace and wit. When Collins saw that Jane, his first
choice, had no interest in him, he turned his eye towards Elizabeth,
who did not fail to see the ease with which he changed his affections.
During this period, the Bennet’s were invited to their uncle’s
home for a party. One guest, a Mr. Wickham, a new officer from a
nearby army post, was adored by all the girls. When he walked into
the room, every female eye turned. Elizabeth felt fortunate that he
chose to sit by her. As they chatted, Wickham divulged the the
infamous Mr. Darcy had once cheated him out of an inheritance left
him by his godfather, Darcy’s father. "This is quite shocking........
he deserves to be publically disgraced," murmured Elizabeth. "Almost
all the actions may be traced to pride", continued Wickham. "And pride
has often been his best friend."
Now, while Elizabeth had set her eye on Mr. Wickham, the Reverend
Collins had set his eye on Elizabeth. One evening he made his desires
known, listing his reasons for seeking marriage - the foremost being
that his patroness, Lady Catherine DeBourgh who employed him as the
local pastor, had ordered him to find a wife. Elizabeth promptly
rejected him, and although he did not quite believe her, still
hurriedly turned turned to ask the hand of a neighbor girl, Charlotte
Lucas. They were soon married.
After this, the Bennets heard some more distressing news - the
Bingley family had returned to London. At first depressed, Jane
welcomed an invitation to go to London to stay with her aunt and
uncle - and to renew her aquaintance with Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth
was likewise invited to visit the new bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs.
Collins, and was amused that Mr. Darcy would shortly be paying a
Reunited with Darcy, Elizabeth noted that "he looked just as he
had been used to look" - reserved, formal, and conceited.
One afternoon Elizabeth was left alone in the Collins’ house
when Darcy knocked on the door. She coldly, but politely invited
him in, and once again, they began to argue, their conversation
punctuated by long periods of silence. Suddenly, Mr. Darcy stated
his purpose for calling: "In vain I have struggled, it will not do.
My feelings will not be repressed.You must allow me to tell you how
much I admire and love you." He explained that, in spite of her family
’s low social position, he wanted her to be his wife.
"Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression." She flatly
refused him. Besides insulting her and her family, he had cheated Mr.
Wickham of his inheritance. Darcy hastily exited, but before he left
to return to his estate, Pemberley,
he delivered a letter to Elizabeth, answering her charges. He assured her that Wickham had received more
than his fair share from the will and that he personally had gone to
great lengths to help the unprincipled wretch, but Wickham had become
disgruntled when Darcy thwarted his intended elopement with Darcy’s
younger sister, Georgiana. Elizabeth’s long held prejudice towards her
adversary began to melt.
She returned home shortly thereafter. Jane was to meet her, and
Elizabeth was disappointed to hear that her sister had gotten to see
nothing of Mr. Bingley while in London.
Soon it was springtime, and the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia,
was invited to visit the home of Colonel Foster’s wife, in Brighton.
Elizabeth was asked once more to vacation with her aunt and uncle -
near Pemberley. Being assured that all the family were still in London
, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle thought that they might venture out
to see the great house.
"Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance
of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation." She felt both relief and
disappointment that Darcy was away indefinitely. But, as fate would
have it, Darcy was called home early, and the two old antagonists
once more confronted each other. This time, however, "their eyes
instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest
Unfortunately, their time was cut short. Elizabeth received
distressing news that Lydia had run off to Scotland with one of
the military officers - Wickham!
This Elizabeth could not believe.
Darcy too, though not surprised, was concerned. Home again, Elizabeth
learned that the couple had disappeared, apparently without the
benefit of matrimony. Such a scandal would could destroy Lydia’s
reputation, but Darcy, discovering their whereabouts, quietly
convinced Wickham to marry the young girl, and offered the man a
After Lydia’s wedding, the inhabitants of Longbourne had further
good news. Mr. Bingley and his friends were again at Netherfield.
Elizabeth was sure that Bingley had returned at Darcy’s request. Not
long after Jane and Bingley became engaged.
While on a walk, Darcy asked Elizabeth if his letter had lessened
her dislike of him. When Elizabeth explained "how gradually all her
former prejudices had been removed," he repeated his proposal of
marriage - and this time Elizabeth was happy to accept.
Mr. Bennet was perturbed: "Lizzy, what are you doing? Have you
not always hated this man?" He was mollified when Elizabeth revealed
that it was the "arrogant" Mr. Darcy who had arranged Lydia’s marriage
and saved her reputation.
"Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs.
Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters."
Text taken, without permission, from The Great
American Bathroom Book, Volume One, pg 5-L4
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