Pride and Prejudice Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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.

Pride and Prejudice begins at Longbourn, the Bennet estate, and involves the arrival of Mr. Bingley, "a single man of large fortune." Mr. Bingley is renting an estate called "Netherfield Park," which is near the Bennett estate. The Bennett estate is entailed away from the female line and it is Mrs. Bennets obsession to find husbands for her five daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. Mrs. Bennett views Mr. Bingley as a potential husband for Jane. Mr. Bingley has come to Netherfield with companions: his sisters, and a friend, Mr. Darcy.

The Bennets meet Mr. Bingley and his companions at the Meryton Ball. Mr. Bingley is judged as amiable, Mr. Darcy, who refuses to dance with Elizabeth, is judged as proud. Jane judges Mr. Bingley sisters as nice and amiable, but Elizabeth describes them as arrogant. Jane and Bingley develop an attachment. Mr. Darcy discourages the romance, thinking Jane wants to marry Bingley for his money.

Charlotte Lucas, a close friend of Elizabeth's, recommends Jane make her feelings for Bingley more obvious. Mr. Darcy begins to admire Elizabeth for her "fine eyes and lively wit."

Jane is invited to dinner at the Netherfield estate. Mrs. Bennet refuses to provide a carriage, hoping the rain will keep Jane at Netherfield for the night. Jane catches a cold, and is forced to stay. Elizabeth walks to Netherfield alone and through the mud. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst (Bingley's sisters) are horrified, but invite Elizabeth to remain at Netherfield. Darcy becomes attracted to Elizabeth. She continues to think him proud. Miss Bingley becomes jealous and makes rude comments about Elizabeth's mother and younger sisters. When Mrs. Bennet comes to visit Netherfield, Elizabeth is embarrassed by her foolishness and poor manners. Bingley's admiration for Jane continues.

Mr. Collins, a cousin of Mr. Bennet, is in line to inherit the Bennett estate. He arrives for a visit, hoping to find a wife among the Bennet daughters so the estate can stay in the family. Mr. Collins, a clergyman, has a patroness named Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's aunt. Mr. Collins courts Elizabeth, but is a silly, pompous man. Elizabeth declines his marriage proposal. Mr. Collins then asks the neighbor, Charlotte Lucas, who accepts.

The Bennet daughters meet an officer named Mr. Wickham. They also meet Mr. Darcy in town. When Darcy and Wickham see each other, both are both uncomfortable. Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth develop an attachment. Wickham, the godson of Darcy's father, was promised a living from the estate. Wickham tells Elizabeth that Darcy failed to fulfill the promise. Bingley and his companions go to London for business. Caroline Bingley writes Jane and tells her that Bingley will not return for six months. Caroline also tells Jane that Bingley will hopefully marry Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana. Jane is heartbroken.

Elizabeth's aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, invite Jane to spend some time with them in London. Mrs. Gardiner warns Elizabeth against a marriage to Wickham. While in London, Jane is treated rudely by Caroline Bingley. Jane assumes that Mr. Bingley must no longer like her. Wickham suddenly forms an attachment to a Miss King, who has recently acquired 10,000 pounds.

While staying with Mr. and Mrs. Collins, Elizabeth is invited to dine at Rosings, the large estate of Lady Catherine. After Elizabeth has been at the Parsonage for two weeks, Mr. Darcy, and his cousin Colonel Fitzpatrick, visit Rosings. Darcy visits Elizabeth and frequently walks with her through the park.

Elizabeth learns from Colonel Fitzpatrick that Darcy saved a friend from "an imprudent marriage." Elizabeth concludes that Darcy convinced Bingley not to marry Jane. Darcy tells Elizabeth he has fallen in love and wants to marry her. Elizabeth is shocked and rudely refuses, saying she does not like the insulting way he proposed, and that she is upset that he prevented the marriage of Bingley and Jane. She also accuses Darcy of treating Wickham badly.

Darcy is shocked at Elizabeth's refusal. He writes her a letter explaining his action. Darcy stopped the marriage because he thought Jane was not in love with Bingley, and he had offered Wickham a living as a clergyman. Wickham refused and instead took 3,000 pounds to study law. Wickham planned an elopement with Darcy's younger sister Georgiana in order to obtain the Darcy fortune. Darcy stopped the marriage at the last minute. Elizabeth and Jane return home. Elizabeth goes on vacation with the Gardiners. Their first stop is Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's estate. The Gardiners and Elizabeth take a tour of the estate. The housekeeper tells them Mr. Darcy is kind and good-natured. During their tour, Elizabeth and the Gardiners run into Mr. Darcy. Darcy tells Elizabeth that he wants her to meet his sister Georgiana.

Elizabeth receives a letter from Jane. Lydia has run away with Wickham, and they fear Wickham does not intend to marry her. Darcy comes to the door just after Elizabeth has received the letter. Darcy feels he is to blame for not exposing Wickham's character. At home, Mrs. Bennet is in hysterics. Wickham has over 1,000 pounds of gambling debts. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet go to London to search for Lydia. A letter soon arrives. Lydia and Wickham are found and Wickham will marry Lydia if Mr. Bennet provides her dowry. After the marriage, Lydia and Wickham visit the estate. Lydia tells Elizabeth that Darcy was present at the wedding. Mrs. Gardiner explains to Elizabeth that Darcy found Lydia and negotiated with Wickham. Bingley and Mr. Darcy return to Netherfield Park. They visit Jane and Elizabeth often. Bingley proposes to Jane and she accepts. Darcy leaves on a business trip to London. Lady Catherine comes to Longbourn to get Elizabeth to promise not to accept Darcy's proposal. Elizabeth refuses to make any promises.

Darcy returns from London. He proposes to Elizabeth, she accepts. Both couples marry. Elizabeth and Darcy live in Pemberley. Jane and Bingley, after living in Netherfield for a year, decide to move to an estate near Pemberley.

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