Pride and Prejudice follows the lives of the five Bennet sisters and their parents, especially focusing on the second eldest daughter Elizabeth. Though weary of her mother's desperation to place each of her daughters in good marriages, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to Mr. Darcy, a proud and wealthy gentleman who is attracted to Elizabeth because of her intelligence and wit. Amidst the drama of their friends' and families' lives, both must overcome preconceived notions and expectations in this story that explores class, love, and social change.
Sir William Lucas and his family live in Meryton, a town near the Bennet estate of Longbourn. Sir William's oldest daughter Charlotte is a close friend to Elizabeth. The day after the ball, Charlotte and Lady Lucas visit the Bennet daughters to talk about the ball. They speak about Bingley's attraction to Jane, the fact that he danced with her twice, and the mutual admiration for her beauty. They criticize Darcy's pride and his refusal to dance with Elizabeth. Mary makes a remark about universality of pride in human nature.In chapter six, the Bingley sisters become better acquainted with Jane and Elizabeth, but judge Mrs. Bennet and the younger girls at not worthy of their attention. Jane is pleased with their attention, but Elizabeth is still critical of them and their behavior. That Jane and Bingley are mutually attracted to one another is very evident to Elizabeth, though Jane does not outwardly express her feelings to Bingley. Jane composure prevents her from making her feelings toward Bingley obvious.
Charlotte tells Elizabeth and Jane that guarding her affection is not the best approach if Jane wants to eventually marry Bingley because he may become discouraged and give up on the romance. Charlotte tells them that a woman must show more affection than she feels in order for the man to form an attachment. To Charlotte, "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance."
Mr. Darcy begins to take an interest in Elizabeth; he finds her dark eyes and "easy playfulness" of her manners quite engaging.
The Lucas family is introduced. Sir William Lucas is described as having "formerly involved in trade" in the town of Meryton. Sir Lucas made a "tolerable fortune" and was knighted because of this fortune, not because he was born into it, there being a great distinction in high society. Sir William is retired to the town of Meryton and lives in an estate called Lucas Lodge. He is described as "inoffensive, friendly, and inviting." The Lucas' have a daughter of twenty seven, named Charlotte, who is a good friend to Elizabeth Bennet. Mrs. Lucas is described as a friend to Mrs. Bennet. There is also a younger daughter of the Lucas'.The Bennet daughters meet with the Lucas daughters to discuss the ball. They speak about Bingley's attraction to Jane, the fact that he danced with her twice, and the mutual admiration for her beauty. They criticize Darcy's pride and his refusal to dance with Elizabeth. Mary makes a remark about universality of pride in human nature. The women discuss Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Charlotte teases Elizabeth about being called "only tolerable" by Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth says that she could have forgiven Mr. Darcy's pride if he had not hurt hers. The younger Bennet daughters agree that they could forgive the pride of someone as rich as Mr. Darcy by keeping "a pack of foxhounds" and drinking "a bottle of wine every day."
In chapter six the ladies of Longbourn visit the Ladies of Netherfield; the visit is returned. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst continue to like Jane, who takes their praise with "greatest pleasure." However, Elizabeth continues to judge Mr. Bingley's sisters harshly and does not trust them. The Bingley sisters decide that the younger Bennet daughters are not worth speaking to and that Mrs. Bennet is "intolerable." Jane and Charlotte Lucas discuss Jane's feelings for Mr. Bingley. Charlotte determines that Jane should be less reserved in her feelings toward Mr. Bingley, and make her feelings more obvious. Charlotte tells Elizabeth and Jane that guarding her affection is not the best approach if Jane wants to eventually marry Bingley because he may become discouraged and give up on the romance. Charlotte tells them that a woman must show more affection than she feels in order for the man to form an attachment. To Charlotte, "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance."
Elizabeth says that Charlotte's plan is good if the only intent of a woman is to be "well married." Charlotte, who is more pragmatic than Elizabeth, states that she would marry for money over love, and that a woman often doesn't have the luxury of being able to choose. Elizabeth insists that Carlotta would not choose that for herself, Charlotte insists that she would.
Mr. Darcy begins to take an interest in Elizabeth; he finds her dark eyes and "easy playfulness" of her manners quite engaging. Darcy listens on a conversation between Elizabeth and Sir William Lucas where Elizabeth refuses to dance with Darcy, in spite of Sir William's suggestion that she do so. Darcy mentions toMiss Bingley that he finds Elizabeth attractive. Miss Bingley, who is jealous, attempts to attract Darcy's admiration to herself. Miss Bingley begins to criticize the manners of the Bennett family, and Elizabeth's looks.
Charlotte's comments to Elizabeth about Jane's reserved manner, and the way in which she feels Jane should act in order to lure Bingley into matrimony reveal that Charlotte has a much more realistic and pragmatic view of marriage than Elizabeth. Charlotte's views foreshadow the decision she will soon make to marry Mr. Collins, the Bennet's cousin. Charlotte's character effectively shows a woman who is willing to marry for purely economic purposes, and the necessity of such a decision. Charlotte is critical of Jane's reserve in her regard for Bingley and says that once Jane is secure of Bingley's affection, there will be plenty of "leisure for falling in love as much as she chuses." Elizabeth disagrees with Charlotte, commenting that her advice is good "where nothing is in question but the desire of being well married." Jane and Elizabeth believe that a marriage should be based on love, something Charlotte feel she does not have the time for because she is already twenty seven. Charlotte's view of marriage is cynical and she asserts that "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." Charlotte believes that it is not important to get to know a person before marriage as "it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life." Elizabeth laughs at Charlotte's comments, telling her "You know you would never act in this way yourself." However, Charlotte's decision later in the novel will eventually prove Elizabeth wrong.Because Elizabeth formed such a harsh opinion of Darcy at the Meryton ball, she is unable to see his growing attachment to her. Every time Darcy looks at Elizabeth, she assumes it is to criticize something she has done wrong. To Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy "was only the man who made himself agreeable no where, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with." As a way of avenging her pride, and to show Darcy that his superior social status means nothing to her, Elizabeth refuses to dance with him.
Miss Bingley is very jealous of Elizabeth, as she would like to marry Mr. Darcy herself. Miss Bingley's jealousy becomes very obvious as she makes numerous snide comments directed at Elizabeth's family and at Elizabeth's looks. Miss Bennet tries to engage Darcy in such insults, but he will not participate and instead begins to defend Elizabeth. Some of Miss Bingley's comments include commenting on how "insupportable" it is to spend time with "such society," but Darcy surprises Miss Bingley by saying that he is quite happy, "meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow."
When Miss Bingley discovers that Mr. Darcy admires Elizabeth, she begins to speak about what it would be like to have Mrs. Bennett as a mother-in-law. She tries to show how different the two families are, how different in fortune, manners, and social class. However, it is Elizabeth's pride that keeps her from seeing Mr. Darcy's attachment, and not Caroline Bingley's interference.