The next morning, Elizabeth dispatches a note to Longbourn requesting her mother to visit Jane. Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by Lydia and Catherine, arrives soon after breakfast. She is not alarmed by Jane’s condition, but both she and the apothecary decide that Jane has not yet sufficiently recovered to return home.
During the visit, Elizabeth is embarrassed by her mother’s inane talk and
the foolish behavior of her sisters. Lydia continuously presses Mr. Bingley
to give a ball at Netherfield Park. After Mrs. Bennet and her two daughters
depart, Elizabeth goes to attend to Jane. The Bingley sisters chat disparagingly
about the inappropriate behavior of Mrs. Bennet and her daughters.
Mrs. Bennet’s visit to Netherfield is a purely farcical episode in which she
proves that she is "a woman of mean understanding, little information,
and uncertain temper". During the visit, Mrs. Bennet is seen at her
preposterous worst. Every time she opens her mouth, she makes a fool of
herself. Elizabeth is totally embarrassed at her mother’s lack of tact
and social correctness. Although Elizabeth is a woman of impulse and speaks
spontaneously, she never defies social decorum. The contrast between Jane
and Elizabeth and the rest of the family is blatant. The elder sisters
are well-mannered and dignified and earn the esteem of others, while their
mother and younger sisters behave foolishly and frivolously. It is ironic
that Mrs. Bennet, who wants to get her daughters married to wealthy and
polished gentlemen, is a major deterrent to their suitors.
Jane feels a little better by evening, so Elizabeth again joins the party in the drawing-room. Darcy is trying to write a letter to his sister, but Miss Bingley repeatedly interrupts him by calling out messages from her to include in his letter to his sister. When Darcy finally finishes the letter, he turns his attention to the conversation in the room. He notices that Elizabeth talks animatedly on every subject and is impressed by her sharp observations and succinct way of wording ideas. Darcy is also magnetically drawn towards Elizabeth’s fine eyes. Elizabeth notices that he frequently stares at her.
Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance with him, but she flatly refuses, much to the relief of Miss Bingley, who has been jealously watching the two of them. Darcy does not feel thwarted by her refusal; instead, he is so bewitched by Elizabeth’s unconventional charms that he feels that had it not been for ‘the inferiority of her connections’, he would have been in danger of falling in love with her.
The following morning Jane is feeling much better. Elizabeth goes for a stroll
in the garden with Mrs. Hurst. They come upon Darcy and Miss Bingley in
the garden. The path on which they are walking is spacious enough for
three people only, so Elizabeth is rudely left behind by the two sisters
to walk by herself. Darcy is annoyed at how Elizabeth is treated.
This chapter focuses on the budding relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, and the pride and prejudice that stand in its way. Elizabeth’s wit, animation, and discerning observations impress Darcy. He finds himself staring at her, especially noticing her fine eyes. When he asks her to dance, she flatly refuses because of her previously established prejudice against him. Elizabeth is sure that Darcy is mocking her by asking her to dance, for he has told her he has a low opinion of dancing. If she accepts the invitation, she is certain he will think she cares only about light and trivial things. The truth of the situation is far from what Elizabeth imagines, for Darcy is now truly attracted to her. He even thinks that he might fall in love with her, except for her low connections. With such thinking, Darcy clearly reveals his snootiness and pride, which also stand in the way of a relationship with Elizabeth.
Miss Bingley is also further developed in this chapter. She constantly thinks
only of herself, as evidenced in her repeatedly interrupting Darcy while
he writes a letter; she obviously will do anything to get his attention.
She is also very jealous of Darcy and watches enviously as he takes an
interest in Elizabeth. She is quite relieved when Elizabeth refuses to
dance with Darcy.
When Jane is feeling better, Elizabeth takes her to the Netherfield drawing
room. Mr. Bingley is delighted to see her. Darcy is immersed in a book,
and Miss Bingley seems more interested in peeking in his book rather than
reading hers. Darcy tries to ignore her; exasperated, she tries to draw
Darcy’s attention by walking around the room, but Darcy does not even
look up. Caroline invites Elizabeth to walk with her and invites Darcy
to go along. Darcy and Elizabeth enjoy a good-humored conversation, and
Darcy, progressively enchanted by her, begins to feel the danger of paying
the young lady too much attention. The next morning Elizabeth is determined
to leave and asks to borrow Mr. Bingley’s carriage for the purpose. She
and Jane depart the next day. As they leave, Darcy avoids Elizabeth, and
Miss Bingley is noticeably polite to her. Mr. Bennet is happy to have
his daughters back, but his wife does not seem to share his happiness
and is not very cordial in her welcome.
In this chapter, Darcy and Elizabeth verbally joust with one another. Referring to Elizabeth, Darcy says that the wisest
men are made the greatest fool by a person whose first object in life is a joke. Elizabeth retorts that follies, nonsense,
and whims entertain her. She also points out that Darcy is devoid of these things. She then proceeds to prick his ego by
harping on vanity and pride, which she knows are implicit weaknesses of his personality. Darcy remarks that everyone
has a defect in character which often makes a person blind to the good qualities of others. This remark rings true for all
the characters in the novel with the exception of Jane, who never sees any faults in other people. Elizabeth tells Darcy,
"Your defect is a propensity to hate everybody." Darcy retorts, "And yours..... is willfully to misunderstand others". It
is obvious that pride and prejudice are still getting in the way of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. It is ironic that Elizabeth, who is usually practical and insightful, cannot see beyond her prejudice at this point in the novel
Besides being entertaining, the rich and sparkling dialogue advances the plot. Darcy is bewitched by Elizabeth’s wit and feels it is dangerous to pay her more attention. As a result, he decides to avoid her, as evidenced when she and Jane depart.
Mr. Bennet is delighted at the return of Jane and Elizabeth. Their mother,
however, does not seem very pleased. She would have preferred them to
stay at Netherfield longer, in order to advance their chances with Bingley
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