Mrs. Bennet and her daughters try hard to gain a satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley from Mr. Bennet, but they fail. Fortunately, Lady Lucas supplies them with a description, which is a very promising one.
Mr. Bingley returns Mr. Bennet’s visit and is entertained in the library. He is a bit disappointed because he does not see any of the young ladies, but the girls manage to catch a glimpse of him from the vantage point of an upper window. When Mr. Bennet visits Bingley’s house again to invite him to dinner, Bingley must refuse the invitation, for he will be in London to make plans for the ball to be held in Meryton.
The Bennet girls finally meet Bingley at the Meryton ball. Bingley is accompanied by his two sisters, Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and by his best friend Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley is a handsome man with a pleasant disposition. His sisters are lovely women with ‘an air of decided fashion’. Mr. Darcy, however, is the most attractive of all. He has a stately posture and exquisite features; above all, he is said to have an income of ten thousand pounds a year. Unfortunately, he has a cold, reserved manner. When Bingley suggests that he dance with Elizabeth, he replies that "she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me." Elizabeth overhears the remark and feels somewhat slighted; but since she has a lively, playful disposition that takes delight in anything ridiculous, she does not allow the slur to upset her.
This ball changes the future of the Bennet family. Bingley, who dances twice
with Jane, falls in love with her; Darcy, who at first dismisses Elizabeth,
is later attracted towards her.
Chapter three is important for several reasons. First, it paints a picture
of the first of many balls, social events that are very important to the
novel. At the ball, Austen carefully depicts the mannerisms of the upper
class with great detail. Two couples are also brought together, Jane and
Bingley and Elizabeth and Darcy. Much of the later novel will revolve
around these two couples. The relationship of the couples, however, is
quite different. Jane and Bingley are immediately attracted to one another.
In contrast, Darcy openly insults Elizabeth in a superior manner, and
she immediately and strongly dislikes him. The chapter, therefore, introduces
the "pride and prejudice" of the novel: Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s
prejudice against him. The ball is also the setting for contrasting the
personalities of Bingley and Darcy. Bingley is charming and outgoing,
while Darcy is reserved, proud, and unpleasant.
Elizabeth and Jane, the eldest two Bennet daughters, discuss the events that took place at the ball. Both of them agree that Bingley is not only rich and handsome, but also very refined. They also agree that Darcy is uncouth and unpleasant. Elizabeth has not taken to Mr. Bingley’s sisters and finds them proud and conceited, thinking highly of themselves and very poorly of the people who are not as wealthy as they. The good-hearted Jane, however, refuses to see faults in others and considers them charming.
There exists a firm friendship between Darcy and Bingley although they are
temperamentally opposite. Bingley’s easygoing, friendly nature endears
him to Darcy, and Bingley places a great premium on Darcy’s judgement
and sharp intellect. Darcy is the unstated ‘superior amongst the two’
but his pride is monstrous. The manner in which the two friends react
to the party is quite typical of them. While Bingley is absolutely floored
by the bevy of beauties, especially Jane Bennet, Darcy’s response is negative:
he finds the guests a queer assortment of people who lack beauty and fashion.
The purpose of the fourth chapter is character development. Jane reveals herself as a sweet-tempered person, never offensive and always believing in the basic goodness of people. Jane admits her love for Bingley to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is shown to be intelligent, critical and high-spirited. She confirms her strong dislike for Darcy and criticizes Bingley’s sisters as well. She is critical of Jane for being "blind" to others. This criticism is filled with irony, because in the later part of the novel Elizabeth is blind in analyzing Darcy.
The Bingley sisters are rich, compulsive spenders who find most people
beneath them in social class and believe them to be a bore and a bother.
In contrast to his siblings, Mr. Bingley is depicted as kind, charming,
and unaffected by his wealth. (He supposedly has inherited property worth
one million pounds from his father.) He enjoys the company of the new
people he meets during the ball. He is not at all like his good friend
Darcy who is offensive, proud and rude. He finds the same bunch of people
with " little beauty and no fashion". The contrast in characters
is obviously intentional on the part of Austen.
Cite this page:
TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Pride and Prejudice".
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