Pride and Prejudice: Summary

Mark Hines

Jane Austen\'s Pride and Prejudice is a complex novel that relates the
events surrounding the relations, lives, and loves of a middle-upper class
English family in the late nineteenth century. Because of the detailed
descriptions of the events surrounding the life of the main character of the
story, Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice is a very involving novel whose
title is very indicative of the themes contained therein.
The first volume opens in the Bennet household at Longbourn in England.
As there are five unmarried daughters living in the home at the time, the matron
of the family, Mrs. Bennet, is quite interested when news of a wealthy man
moving to Netherfield, a place in the near vicinity. Mrs. Bennet, in the best
interest of her daughters, soon after begins urging her husband to meet with the
newly arrived neighbor, a Mr. Bingley, but he is quite reluctant to do so. Soon
after, Mr.Bennet surprises his daughters and his wife by announcing that he had
visited Netherfield and found Bingley to be "quite agreeable." The interest of
the Bennet daughters arises when they learn that certain members of the Bingley
party will be in attendance at an upcoming ball in Meryton. At the ball,
acquaintances between the families are made, and all find both Mr.Bingley and
his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy to be exceedingly handsome, however Darcy\'s pride
is so irritating and repulsive, it makes his character almost totally
disagreeable. It is at this ball, however, that the oldest Bennet daughter,
Jane, becomes involved with Mr.Bennet; her younger sister Elizabeth, however,
falls victim to Mr. Darcy\'s pride and is shunned by him during the entire ball.
Beginning with this event, Elizabeth forms a prejudice towards Mr. Darcy that
will prevent her future involvement with him. It is here then that the two main
themes of he work, pride and prejudice, are first presented. Soon after the
ball, it becomes obvious that Mr. Bingley\'s feelings towards Jane deepen, and
Jane\'s feelings also appear when the family visits their neighbors the Lucases
after the Meryton Ball. This, however, produces concern from both his older
sister and Mr. Darcy, who dislike the behavior of her family and, being part of
the upper class, are prevented by their pride from liking anyone of lower status.
Mr. Darcy\'s attitude towards Elizabeth Bennet, however, soon begin to change,
as he appreciates her subtle beauty. It is because of her prejudice against him,
however, that Elizabeth does not recognize his affections; he begins to join her
conversations, and even expresses to his cousins his feelings. Mr. Darcy\'s
sister, however, seems to have feelings for him and criticizes her unrefined
character, however, Mr. Darcy, for the first of several times, is unaffected.
He, however, has already established his own prejudice against the Bennet family,
which would later be shaken upon meeting the Gardiners, Elizabeth\'s aunt and
uncle. Jane soon receives an invitation to Netherfield, however, to her
disappointment, it is not from Mr. Bingley but his sister Caroline. Still, she
is pleased to go, and her mother advises her to go on horseback, as in the event
that it might rain, she would be obliged to stay. Mrs. Bennet\'s plan works,
however Jane is caught in the rain and becomes ill. She writes to Elizabeth and
the latter decides to walk to Netherfield to attend to her sister. Upon her
arrival at Netherfield, Mr. Bingley\'s sisters remark on the wildness of her
appearance, but Darcy is markedly impressed. After Jane\'s condition remains
poor, Mrs. Bennet is called upon, but she sees her daughter\'s illness is not
severe. Still, she remains there long enough so that Elizabeth, through a
series of interactions with those living at Netherfield, convinces the sisters
that she is unfit company, but attracts Mr. Darcy further. At Longbourn, Mr.
Bennet receives a letter from a Mr. Collins who will supposedly be inheriting
Longbourn after Mr. Bennet\'s death, since he has no male successors. Mr. Bennet
looks forward to a visit from the ridiculous Mr. Collins, and is particularly
curious because of a reference in the letter to courting one of the Bennet
daughters. After his arrival, Mr.Bennet is pleased to find that Mr. Collins is
as rediculous as he had hoped. Elizabeth, on the contrary, dislikes Mr.Collins
immensely, but he, after discovering that Jane is already involved with someone,
moves to the next eligible Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. Ironically, it is she
who dislikes him most in the Bennet family, and her dislike is obvious when she
later refuses his marriage proposal wholeheartedly. Mr. Collins mentions his
patron, a Lady Catherine deBourgh, several times, and even