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Pride And Prejudice: Summary Essay, Research Paper

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 Mr. Bennet becomes

frustrated with his continual adulation of her. During a visit to town, the

Bennet daughters and Mr. Collins meet a member of the militia, George Wickham.

All find him handsome and Elizabeth expresses quite a bit of interest in his

direction. She soon learns, however, that some bad blood exists between

Mr.Wickham and Mr.Darcy, whom she now abhors. She learns the details at a party

the following night at the Phillips house. Wickham tells her that although

Darcy’s father had supported Wickham, Darcy refused to help him in becoming a

clergyman. Because of Elizabeth’s pre-established prejudice towards Darcy, she

believes Wickham’s story without a second thought. Furthermore, Wickham passes

a series of judgement upon Darcy’s family, included Lady Catherine deBourgh,

saying that they are as arrogant as he. This, too, Elizabeth accepts as the

truth. As Bingley had promised a ball at Netherfield as soon as Jane

recuperated from her illness, the ball is planned and the Bennet family attends.

Elizabeth, however, is upset to learn of Wickham’s absence, even though Wickham

claimed to be unafraid of attending any event where Darcy would be present.

Darcy, however, furthers his interest in Elizabeth by paying more attention to

her, however Elizabeth, who cannot conceive the purpose of this behavior, is

baffled. To make the evening increasingly difficult for Elizabeth, her mother’s

behavior embarasses her subtantially. The following morning, Mr. Collins

unexpectedly proposes to Elizabeth who refuses immediately. Collins interprets

this as her being coy, and cannot grasp the earnesty of her refusal. Mr. Bennet

finally convinces Collins to abandon any hopes of marrying Elizabeth, and he

shifts his affections towards Elizabeth’s dear friend, Charlotte Lucas.

Charlotte, to the disappointment of Elizabeth, accepts his marriage proposal for

material reasons. Volume one ends with a notice from the Bingley sister that

the party would be departing Netherfield for London and would probably not

return for the entirety of the winter. This severely distresses the Bennet

family who in general had anticipated a marriage between Jane and Mr. Bingley.

No one is more disappointed than Jane herself, who anticipated the same; it is

determined that the choice to leave Netherfield was orchestrated by Miss Bingley,

hoping to introduce Mr. Bingley to Georgiana Darcy.

Volume two begins with a visit to Longbourn from Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner,

the Bennet daughter’s aunt and uncle. Trusting her aunt’s judgement, Elizabeth

introduces her to Wickham, who agrees that he is handsome but warns Elizabeth

against marrying someone lacking money. After examining Jane’s situation,

Elizabeth and the Gardiner’s agree that it would be wise for her to leave with

them to London. After she arrives there, she tries in vain to contact the

Bingley’s, and the eventual reply is brief and unwelcoming. Although Jane is a

very warmhearted and trusting character, she begins to doubt that she curries

much favor with the Bingley sisters, however she continues her stay in London.

Meanwhile, at Longbourn, Elizabeth almost reluctantly accepts an invitation from

Charlotte Lucas to visit her in her new home. En route she visits her sister at

the Gardiners, and is content with Jane’s situation. Continuing on the trip,

Elizabeth finally arrives at Rosings, Mrs. Collins’s new home. Although Mr.

Collins continues to try and impress Elizabeth with the quality of his home and

the the genorosity of Lady deBourgh. Elizabeth, however, finds Lady Catherine

to be excessively rude and difficult to get along with, and does not once regret

her refusal to Mr. Collins’s proposal. Additionally, Elizabeth learns of Lady

Catherine’s plans to marry Mr. Darcy to her daughter, and Elizabeth is not upset

by this news in the least. Mr. Darcy arrives for Easter, accompanied by his

cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is openly attracted to Elizabeth. Elizabeth

continues to be baffle by Darcy’s behavior: he seeks her conversation at social

gatherings, and he follows her on walks until finally he surprises her with a

wedding proposal. Darcy proposes, however, in a manner condescending to

Elizabeth and her family as if he were doing a favor to her by proposing. She

refuses him instantly, and blames him for Wickham’s problems, which had earlier

benn described to her by Colonel Fitzwilliam and for separating Jane and Charles

Bingley. Darcy does not deny these accusations and leaves bitterly. The

following morning, Darcy seeks Elizabeth out on one of her walks and gives her a

letter in all manner of politeness. Upon her reading it, she changes most of

her preconceptions about Darcy as he answers all of her charges with the utmost

eloquence and politeness. As a response to Elizabeth’s charges, Darcy claimed

he wanted Mr. Bingly to marry a wealthy woman and it did not seem to him that

Jane had any particular affection for him. Indeed, Elizabeth had already

acknowledged that Jane did mask her feeelings to a great extent. Furthermore,

Darcy claimed that he had done all in his power to help Wickham, a man he

despised, and was not excessively cruel to him. Elizabeth reflects upon the

letter and decides it to be the truth, and is emotionally changed in reference

to Darcy. She returns to Longbourn to find her younger sisters unhappy that the

militia in town would soon be leaving to Brighton. Lydia, the younger of

Elizabeth’s sisters is overjoyed when she recieves an invitation to travel to

Brighton with her friend, a Ms. Forster. Elizabeth advises her father to

prevent Lydia from going, however he will not, and Elizabeth shift her attention

to happy anticipation of the trip she will soon be taking with her aunt and

uncle Gardiner. Elizabeth soon learns that her aunt wishes to visit the mansio

owned by Mr Darcy at Pemberley, and when she learns he will not be there, she

consents. So ends volume two.

The third and final volume begins with Elizabeth on vacation traveling

with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. Upon their arrival at Pemberley, she is surprised

by the excessive praise the maid gives her master, and impressed by the elegance

of the house itself. Although the maid claimed that Mr. Darcy would not soon be

returning, Elizabeth is surprised to see him there soon after her own arrival.

After some initail awkwardness, he treats with great civility and pleasantness,

and Elizabeth is shocked at the tremendous change in his behavior. The following

day, Darcy, Bingley, and Georgiana all visit the inn where the Gardiners and

Elizabeth are staying. Elizabeth impresses Darcy’s sister who he claims was

anxious to meet her, and Elizabeth begins to feel more than just respect for

Darcy himself. The Gardiners remark on the interactions between the two, but

Elizabeth says nothing that appears to be a commitment of any sort. When

Elizabeth returns on a visit to Pemberley, Miss Bingley is there, and she

continues in her criticisms of Elizabeth, although Darcy is once again in love

with her. Catastrophe occurs while Elizabeth is at Pemberley as Jane writes her

to notify her that Lydia has eloped with Wickham and it is highly unlikely the

two have been married. Elizabeth bursts into tears but then relays the message

to Darcy who understands her urgency and makes arrangements for their immediate

departure. After retuning home, Elizabeth learns her father is searching for

Lydia and Wickham, however Mr.Bennet soon returns and leaves Mr. Gardiner to the

searching. After several days, they are located and Wickham consents to

marrying Lydia for a surprisingly low monetary settlement. Mr. Bennet thinks

that Mr. Gardiner offered Wickham substantially more, but it is not till later

that the reader learns Darcy orchestrated the entire event. After the situation

had cooled, Lydia and her new husband visit Longbourn, and Mrs.Bennet is

overjoyed to have her daughter married. Lydia appears unembarrassed of the

circumstances under which she was married, and Elizabeth assumes correctly that

Lydia loves her husband more than he loves her. Through a careless remark by

Lydia that Darcy attended her wedding, Elizabeth learns partly of hi involvement

and write to her aunt asking for the details. After she learns this, she

examines her feelings and realizes she truly loves Darcy. To the disappointment

of his sister, Binglet returns to Netherfield and he and Jane continue their

courting until he finally proposes to her and she happily accepts. Now that a

second daughter has been married, Mrs. Bennet is almost overcome with joy.

Elizabeth is distracted by Darcy’s unwillingness to speak with her and is

somewhat troubled, when Lady Catherine visits Longbourn to confirm a rumor that

Elizabeth and Darcy were to be amrried. Elizabeth responds that the two will do

as they please, and ingnores Lady Catherine’s arguments that her daughter is set

to wed Darcy. Lady Catherine leaves to speak with Darcy in great frustration,

and it is through this that Darcy finally achieves the courage to propose once

again to Elizabeth, however this time she accepts. The announcement of their

marriage is a surprise to Elizabeth’s family, and her father goes so far as to

warn her against marrying without love; it is implied that he made asimilar

mistake. Elizabeth, however, is deeply satisfied with Darcy and their marriage

is a happy one, as Dacy overcame his pride and Elizabeth her prejudice. So ends

Pride and Prejudice.


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