Elizabeth and the Lucases go to Huntsford. They meet Charlotte and Mr. Collins at the parsonage, which adjoins Lady Catherine's estate, Rosings Park. Elizabeth is warmly welcomed by her girlfriend, who has not changed. She is content with marriage and has learned to gracefully bear her peculiar husband. Mr. Collins is as vainglorious and cumbersome as ever.
The next morning, Maria Lucas enthusiastically points out to Elizabeth two
ladies who have arrived at the garden gate. One of them is Miss de Bourgh,
a thin, pale, cross-looking maiden; Elizabeth thinks that she would make
an ideal wife for proud Darcy. After the guests depart, Mr. Collins says
that everyone has been invited to dine at Rosings the next day.
Elizabeth's arrival at the parsonage gives her allows her to see the marital life of a mismatched couple. Mr. Collins, proud and bothersome as always, is oblivious to the needs and concerns of his wife. Charlotte, however, has adapted well to her compromise marriage and tries to make the best of things. She has learned to ignore her husband's shameful behavior and rude statements. On the whole, Charlotte tries to make the best of the bargain she has made for herself in marriage. Elizabeth is awed by Charlotte's adaptability, self-restraint, and capacity for contentment.
Mr. Collins makes a gaudy display of his house, trying to rub it into Elizabeth
what she has missed by turning down his proposal to her. Ironically, this
makes Elizabeth even more glad that she refused him.
Mr. Collins is ecstatic over the invitation to Rosings, for he wants to display "the grandeur of his patroness to his wandering visitors" and to show "her civility towards himself and his wife." He spends hours instructing the guests on what they are to expect and how they are to behave at Lady Catherine's.
The company arrives at Rosings. They are greeted by Lady Catherine with an air of condescension designed "not to make her visitors forget their inferior rank." Lady Catherine is a tall, large woman who speaks in an authoritative tone. Her daughter is a sickly, diminutive creature who speaks in a muffled voice, but only to Mrs. Jenkinson, who fusses over her comforts.
Mr. Collins raves about the delicious and exotic dinner; Lady Catherine seems
gratified from this overdose of praise. After dinner, Lady Catherine advises
Charlotte on how to manage her house, her cows, and her poultry. Elizabeth
is shocked at how the woman delights in dictating to others. She is also
shocked by Lady Catherine's many personal questions to her about her family;
Elizabeth considers them interfering and impertinent and answers in a
manner that surprises the smug Lady Catherine. After several games of
cards, Lady Catherine indicates that the evening is over. Mr. Collins
is eager to know Elizabeth's opinion about Lady Catherine and Rosings.
For Charlotte's sake, she says the evening and the hostess have been pleasant.
Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, and her daughter are all unlikable characters. Collins grovels before his snooty neighbor in a pathetic manner. Lady Catherine eats up his compliments and is rude to Charlotte and Elizabeth, showing that she is heartless and domineering. Her daughter is a diminutive, wispy girl who needs to be continually fussed over; if she were to marry Darcy, it would be a total mismatch.
Lady Catherine lives in an ivory tower and occasionally stoops from her gilded chair to entertain "social inferiors," such as Collins, Charlotte, and Elizabeth. When the party arrives, she clearly indicates to them that she feels herself superior. During dinner, she tells Charlotte how to run her life and asks Elizabeth rude, personal questions about her family.
It is to be noted that Elizabeth is the only person who is not intimidated
by Rosings Park and its monarch. She dares to answer Lady Catherine's
questions in a way as to put her in her place, which adds to the humor
of this chapter. Elizabeth shows once again that she is an independent
woman who is not afraid to overstep social conventions and assert her
Sir William returns home after a week, but Elizabeth and Maria stay on with the Collins. Elizabeth has another opportunity to observe the overbearing ways of Lady Catherine. Whenever she hears about any of the parishioners being quarrelsome or complaining, she goes forth to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony.
With the approach of Easter, Mr. Darcy arrives at Rosings with his cousin
Colonel Fitzwilliam. When they call at the parsonage, Darcy is surprised
to find Elizabeth; out of politeness, he asks about her family, and Elizabeth
tells him that Jane is in London. Darcy, looking baffled, says that he
has not been fortunate enough to meet her there. The visitors soon return
Lady Catherine, always smug and superior, tries to rule the simple rural parishioners. Her chastisement of erring villagers springs from her deep-seated self-importance rather than any genuine concern for them. It is this self-important air that makes her an amusing character. In spite of her over-inflated opinion of herself, Lady Catherine has little influence on the characters in the book. In fact, nothing of what she wishes ever happens. Ironically, she is useful to the plot only in getting Darcy and Elizabeth together in her attempts to keep them apart.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is a contrast to Darcy. His easy-going, smooth social
nature allows him to immediately like Elizabeth and become friends with
her. In contrast, Darcy's pride and his reserve make him awkward in Elizabeth's