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.
Elizabeth, Sir William and his younger daughter Maria visit Charlotte in Hunsford. Mr. Collins welcomes them to the house with his usual formality and shoes them every piece of furniture around the house. Charlotte, now Mrs. Collins, endures the silliness of her husband well by carving out her own life and taking pleasure in her management of the house. Elizabeth concludes that Charlotte is happy and may have made a good match. Maria shouts to Elizabeth, telling her to look outside. It is Miss de Bourgh in her carriage. Elizabeth is happy that Miss de Bourgh looks sickly and cross, as she thinks this will make Mr. Darcy the "perfect wife." After the carriage drives away, Mr. Collins tells them because they have all been invited to dine at Rosings the next day.In chapter twenty nine, Mr. Collins carries on as usual trying to prepare Elizabeth for the grandeur of Rosings. Maria and Sir William are nervous about meeting Lady Catherine but Elizabeth sees no reason to be intimidated and is unimpressed by "the mere stateliness of money and rank." Lady Catherine is described as "a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features," and her way of receiving guests reminds them of their inferior social rank. Miss de Bourgh is thin and small. At dinner Mr. Collins continuously compliments the food. Lady Catherine speaks about her opinion and offers advice to Charlotte about household management. Lady Catherine then asks Elizabeth questions about family. Elizabeth answers without fear of giving her own opinion.
In chapter thirty, Sir William Lucas leaves Hunsford but Elizabeth and Maria stay on for some time. Elizabeth enjoys her time there, though she at first assumed she would not. Elizabeth takes long walks through the gardens at Rosings and often dines there with the Collins'. Elizabeth hears that Mr. Darcy is planning to visit Rosings. She looks forward to his coming because when Mr. Darcy arrives with his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, the two gentlemen immediately visit Hunsford. Elizabeth asks Darcy whether or not he has seen Jane in London. Darcy looks confused but answers that he has not seen her.
Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford to visit Charlotte (Mrs. Collins) and Mr. Collins, who is just as pompous as he ever was, shows Elizabeth the house, making his sill speeches all the while, talking incessantly about the furniture and the rooms. Elizabeth frequently looks to Charlotte, who sometime blushes but most of the time seems to simply ignore her husband's comments. Lady Catherine is spoken of by the group and is described by Charlotte as "a most attentive neighbor." Elizabeth see Lady Catherine's daughter from the window and describes her as "sickly and cross." Elizabeth remarks rather dryly that Miss de Bourgh will make Darcy "a very proper wife."In chapter twenty nine, The Collins party is invited to Rosings for Sunday tea with Lady Catherine. Mr. Collins brags non-stop about the invitation. Mr. Collins tells Elizabeth not to worry that her dress isn't good enough for Lady Catherine. Elizabeth thinks Rosings is nice, but does not seem as impressed as Mr. Collins. Elizabeth meets Lady Catherine and her daughter Miss de Bourgh. Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth many personal questions about the Bennet family. Lady Catherine remarks that the Bennet estate is entailed away from the female line. When Elizabeth responds that it is, Lady Catherine responds that it is good for the Collins' but that the "Sir Lewis de Bourgh's family" never saw any reason to do such a thing and that she doesn't agree with such a policy. Lady Catherine asks if Elizabeth and her sisters had a governess. When Elizabeth responds that they did not, Lady Catherine is horrified. Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth if any of her sisters are "out" in society. When Elizabeth says that they are all "out," Lady Catherine again seems horrified that the younger sisters would be out before the eldest are married. Elizabeth defends her parent's actions, stating that such an action would have been unfair to her younger sisters.
In chapter thirty, Elizabeth enjoys her time with the Collins' far more than she anticipated. Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine's nephew, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, his cousin, arrive at Rosings and pay a visit to Hunsford. At their first meeting, Elizabeth asks if Darcy has seen Jane in London. Darcy looks confused, but replies that he has not seen Jane. Elizabeth is reserved at their meeting and tries to see whether or not Darcy had any knowledge of what transpired between Jane and the Bingleys.
Lady Catherine is presented as an arrogant and egotistical woman who enjoys the flattery of those below her in social status. Lady Catherine seems to be another version of Mr. Collins, though she frequently interrupts his long speeches with impatience. Elizabeth, however, does not see very impressed with Lady Catherine's arrogance, and again, does not respect her simply because of her higher social status. Through the conversation at dinner and tea, Elizabeth's character is fully recognized as independent as she answers Lady Catherine with no fear. Though she often speaks her own mind, Lady Catherine seems to enjoy Elizabeth's feisty conversation. As a result, it is these conversations with Elizabeth that get the Collins party repeatedly asked back to Rosings.Lady Catherine does nothing but remind her guests of their inferior rank and it seems that the only conversation she tolerates from others is one in which she is given praise or when they agree with her opinion. She is pleased with the constant praise from Sir William and Mr. Collins and speaks about her "opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted." Lady Catherine asks personal questions of Elizabeth about her family, and repeatedly gives Charlotte advice on how to manage a household. Lady Catherine has an obvious lack of respect for the Bennet family, something which makes Elizabeth dislike Lady Catherine even more.
As Lady Catherine converses with Elizabeth, the reader learns just how derelict the Bennets have been in raising their daughters. The reader gets also a view of what is considered proper in the late eighteenth century as far as child-raising when Lady Catherine gives her responses to Elizabeth's answers at having no governess. Mrs. Bennet was unable to supervise her daughter's education herself, but she did not bother to hire a governess for them. Mr. Bennet constantly complains about the behavior of his youngest daughters, but allows them to be "out" in society. While Mr. Bennet is sees the value of education, he also did nothing to help educate his daughters. While the Bennet's lack of parenting seems to have been overcome by both Jane and Elizabeth, Lady Catherine's response foreshadows that the younger sisters have not, and will not, fare as well on their own.