English  Easy Winner

 English notes for the +1 and +2 students of  J.J.M.M.H.S.S. Yendayar

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Pride and Prejudice

Plot summary

The novel opens with the famous line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife". The arrival of such a single man "of considerable fortune" in the neighbourhood greatly excites Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet's sole interest in life is to see her five eligible daughters well settled and happily married to fine men of 'considerable fortune'.

The man in question in this instance is Mr. Bingley, who has leased the Netherfield estate where he plans to settle for a while with his two sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst. Soon after moving in, Mr. Bingley and his party, which now includes his close friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, attend a public ball in the village of Meryton. At first, Mr. Darcy is admired for his fine figure and income of £10,000 a year and is far more the subject of attention than Mr. Bingley. However, the villagers soon become disgusted with his pride. This is brought home to the Bennet family when Elizabeth Bennet overhears him decline Mr. Bingley's suggestion that he dance with her because, he says, "she is not handsome enough to tempt [him]". Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, proves highly agreeable, dancing with many of the eligible ladies in attendance and showing his decided admiration for Jane Bennet.

Bingley's sisters invite Jane for an evening at Netherfield which turns into an extended stay when Jane catches a bad cold. Elizabeth comes to nurse her sister and stays at Netherfield, engaging Darcy's guarded attention and Miss Bingley's not-so-guarded scorn. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Darcy comes to admire her and her "fine eyes."

But now comes Mr. Collins — a cousin who, because of an entail, will inherit the Bennet estate — to visit the Bennet family. Mr. Collins is also "in want of a wife", and having heard that the Bennet daughters are "amiable and handsome", he means to marry one of them, and so atone for his position as heir and heal the breach in the family. Unfortunately, he is a pompous buffoon of a clergyman whose idea of a pleasant evening is reading to his female cousins from Fordyce's Sermons. He delights in dropping the name of his great patroness, the Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with great frequency; his visit was brought on by her imperious suggestion that he marry.

Mr. Collins originally intends to marry Jane, but, on hearing of her relationship with Mr. Bingley, switches his sights to Elizabeth. He proposes to Elizabeth but she refuses him, much to the chagrin of her mother. Although Mrs. Bennet tries to promote the marriage, Elizabeth, supported by her father, will not have him.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is introduced to Mr. Wickham, a pleasing, amiable officer in the regiment. Mr. Wickham informs her that he had known Mr. Darcy his entire life, but was dealt a serious wrong after the death of Mr. Darcy's father. After the tale is told, Elizabeth begins to harbour a strong prejudice against Mr. Darcy.

After Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collins, he hurriedly marries her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth, who finds Charlotte's choice revolting, nevertheless consents to visit the newlyweds. While she is staying with them, Mr. Darcy visits his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, at the adjoining estate, Rosings. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are therefore thrown daily into each other's company. Elizabeth's charms leave Mr. Darcy increasingly entranced; he is provoked to declare his love for her "against his own will", and he proposes marriage to her in spite of her objectionable family. And then he waits expectantly for her acceptance.

Elizabeth is surprised, and highly insulted by Mr. Darcy's high-handed method of proposing; also, she has recently learnt that it was Darcy who persuaded Mr. Bingley to sever ties with her sister Jane, and she is still contemptuous of his supposed wrongs against Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth refuses Darcy in no uncertain terms, telling him he is "the last man in the world whom [she] could ever be prevailed on to marry."

The next day, Mr. Darcy intercepts Elizabeth on her morning walk and hands her a letter before coldly taking his leave. In the letter, Mr. Darcy justifies his actions regarding his interference in Mr. Bingley and Jane's relationship, and reveals his history concerning Mr. Wickham and Mr. Wickham's true nature. The letter sheds a new light on Mr. Darcy's personality for Elizabeth and she begins to reconsider her opinion of him, particularly in the case of Mr. Wickham.

Later, while on holiday with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, Elizabeth is persuaded to visit nearby Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's estate, but only because she is told he is away. There she is mortified when she bumps into him unexpectedly while on a tour of the grounds; however, his altered behaviour towards her — distinctly warmer than at their last meeting — and his polite and friendly manner towards her aunt and uncle begin to persuade her that underneath his pride lies a true and generous nature. Her revised opinion of Mr. Darcy is supported through meeting his younger sister Georgiana, a gentle-natured and shy girl upon whom he dotes.

Just as her relationship with Mr. Darcy is beginning to thaw, Elizabeth is horrified by the news that her headstrong youngest sister Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham, who has resigned his commission to evade gambling debts. When Mr. Darcy hears this he decides to find Mr. Wickham and bribe him into marrying Lydia, keeping his actions a secret from Elizabeth and her family. Elizabeth accidentally learns of his involvement from Lydia's careless remarks, which are later confirmed by Mrs. Gardiner. This final act completes the reversal in Elizabeth's sentiments, and she begins to regret having turned down his earlier proposal of marriage.

Lady Catherine discovers Mr. Darcy's feelings for Elizabeth, which threaten her long cherished desire for him to marry her daughter, Anne de Bourgh. She pays Elizabeth an unannounced visit and brusquely tries to intimidate her into refusing such an engagement. Unfortunately for Lady Catherine, her visit only serves to consolidate Elizabeth's intentions. Furthermore, Lady Catherine later visits Mr. Darcy, and relates the entire conversation to him — giving him the hope that if he proposes to Elizabeth again, she may accept him. After ensuring the rekindling of Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet's relationship, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged.

The book ends with two marriages: Jane and Bingley's, and Darcy and Elizabeth's.

 

Main characters

Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth (Lizzy, Eliza) Bennet is the core character of this family saga as it unfolds in the novel. She is the second of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's five daughters, and is an intelligent, bold, attractive 20-year-old when the story begins. In addition to being her father's favorite, Elizabeth is characterized as a sensible, yet stubborn, young woman. She is also witty, as Mr. Collins pointed out in his proposal to her. Elizabeth initially holds Mr. Darcy in contempt, misled by his cold outward behaviour. Her prejudice mounts after he "wounds [her] pride" with his personal insult at the dance, and as she believes what Mr. Wickham says about him. However, after the proposal fiasco, she finds that Mr. Darcy improves on acquaintance, more so than she would expect. Lizzy is as like Darcy as they both are contrasted with their friends and close ones (Jane and Mr. Bingley respectively). When Darcy helps save Lydia from a horrific fate, Elizabeth — for the first time — feels gratitude towards him. This provides the basis for her affection towards him.

Fitzwilliam Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the central male character and Elizabeth's second love interest in the novel. He is an intelligent, wealthy, handsome and reserved 28-year-old man, who often appears haughty or proud to strangers but possesses an honest and kind nature underneath. Initially, he considers Elizabeth his social inferior, unworthy of his attention, but he finds that, despite his inclinations, he cannot deny his feelings for Elizabeth. His initial proposal of marriage is rejected because of his pride and Elizabeth's prejudice against him; however, after their relationship has had a chance to blossom, he proposes again and is accepted by Elizabeth, who has grown to love him.

Mr. Bennet

Mr. Bennet is the father of Elizabeth Bennet and head of the Bennet family. His first name is never mentioned. An English gentleman with an estate in Hertfordshire, he is married to Mrs. Bennet and has five daughters. Unfortunately, his property is entailed to the male line, so his estate will be inherited by a distant cousin, Mr. Collins. Mr. Bennet is a good-hearted but withdrawn man, and he has a bitingly sarcastic humour and can only derive amusement from his "nervous" wife and three "silly" daughters — Mary, Kitty and Lydia. He is closest to his daughter Elizabeth but is also attached to his eldest daughter, Jane, both having won this approval by possessing a greater amount of sense than their three sisters. Mr. Bennet prefers the solitude of his study, neglecting the raising of his children, which leads to near-disaster.

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet is the querulous, excitable and ill-bred wife of Mr. Bennet and mother of Elizabeth and her sisters. Her first name is never mentioned. She is particularly indulgent towards Lydia. Her main concern in life is seeing her daughters married well to wealthy men, so that they will be taken care of following Mr. Bennet's death. However, her foolish nature and frequent social faux pas often impede her efforts towards this end. Her single-minded pursuit of future husbands for her daughters can also blind her in several ways to their welfare and best interests in the present. Mrs. Bennet's opinions of people frequently and easily change. The first visit of Mr. Collins is a good example, as Mrs. Bennet quickly alternates from contempt to giddy anticipation after reading his letter.

Jane Bennet

Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. She is twenty-two years old at the start of the novel and is generally considered to be the most beautiful of her sisters. The depth of her feelings is difficult to discern by those who do not know her well, due to her reserved manner and pleasantness to all. Seeing only the good, she is incapable of suspecting the worst of people. She falls in love with Charles Bingley, and is devastated when he abruptly breaks off their developing relationship without explanation. Eventually however, the misunderstanding on his part is cleared up and she accepts his hand in marriage.

Lydia Bennet

Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the Bennet sisters. Fifteen years old when the narrative begins, Lydia is extremely flirtatious, naive, headstrong and reckless. She is described as the favourite of her mother, who indulges her and encourages her idleness and folly. Lydia and Catherine (Kitty), who despite being the older of the two is dominated by Lydia, are wrapped up in frivolous pursuits, especially chasing after the officers stationed at Meryton. Her father often calls Lydia 'silly'. She is seduced by Mr. Wickham and runs away with him without much thought for the consequences to

Charles Bingley

Charles Bingley is a 23-year-old wealthy man and the closest friend of Mr. Darcy, despite the differences in their personalities. He is an outgoing, extremely good-natured, and wealthy young man who leases property near the Bennets' estate at the beginning of the novel. Unlike many of those in his circle, he is approachable and mingles easily in company the others consider beneath them. He is attracted to Jane Bennet, who reciprocates his feelings but is too shy and reserved to express them fully.

William Collins

William Collins is the 25-year-old cousin of Mr. Bennet. A clergyman, he is the closest male relation to the Bennet family, and as such stands to inherit Longbourn upon Mr. Bennet's death. Mr. Collins is a pompous, narrow-minded sycophant who is excessively devoted and flattering to his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Advised by Lady Catherine to find a wife, he initially eyes Jane, only to instantly transfer his affections to Elizabeth upon learning of Jane's impending match with Mr. Bingley. After being rejected by his second choice, he proposes to Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth's best friend, the following day, who accepts him.

George Wickham

George Wickham is Mr. Darcy's nemesis and the antagonist of the novel; a classic cad. He enters the story as a dashing, charming, and handsome officer of the militia and captures the favour of Elizabeth. His father was the manager of the Darcy estate, but Wickham squandered his share of the late Mr. Darcy's inheritance intended for his schooling in the priesthood. Wickham's true nature is one of cunning deceitfulness. He initially deceives Elizabeth and the general public into believing Mr. Darcy robbed him of his dream of becoming a clergyman thus leaving him in poverty. However after her confrontation with Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth learns Wickham's true colours. He later convinces Lydia Bennet to elope with him without intention of matrimony, but is tracked down by Mr. Darcy. He only marries Lydia after his debts are paid off and he is given a large sum of money by Mr. Darcy.

Mary Bennet

Mary Bennet is the most serious of all the Bennet girls, almost to the point of pomposity; she is also the only plain one in the family. She enjoys performing for people on the piano, but otherwise she is not very interested in local society, seeing balls as a duty rather than a pleasure. On the other hand she is interested in social theory, especially regarding people's ideas on vanity and pride. Much of her time is spent in studying, but she tends to sermonize about many subjects in a fashion not unlike Mr. Collins. She is rather dull and around the age of 18 in the beginning of the novel.

Kitty Bennet

Catherine (Kitty) Bennet, although two years older than her sister Lydia at age 17, is somewhat of a sidekick to her. She follows everything that Lydia does, and becomes very jealous when only Lydia is invited to go to Brighton with the troops, as she wishes to go herself. After Lydia elopes with George Wickham, she frequently invites Kitty to stay with her, but their father will not permit it. However, once Jane and Elizabeth marry Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, respectively, Kitty is allowed to stay often with them. By this marked elevation in the society she keeps, and the removal of Lydia's influence, Kitty's personality improves dramatically.

Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte Lucas is the neighbour and best friend of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William and Lady Lucas. She is 27 years old and when Mr. Collins, having been rejected by Elizabeth, proposes to her, she instantly accepts him, as this is probably her final opportunity to get married. Her husband dotes on her in his peculiar way, usually calling her "my dear Charlotte." She enjoys her marriage by staying away from Mr. Collins as much as possible and taking care of her household. Shortly before Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged, it is announced in a letter from Mr. Collins to Elizabeth's father that Charlotte is pregnant with her first child.

Georgiana Darcy

Georgiana Darcy is Fitzwilliam Darcy's younger sister. Darcy has great love towards her. She is immensely pretty and, at 16 years old, more than a decade his junior. Georgiana is quiet and shy, but amiable and good-natured, and shows great skill at playing the pianoforte. Mr. Wickham stole her affections some time ago, at age 15, hoping to gain possession of the great fortune which she will inherit when she comes of age. However, Mr. Darcy saves her from an imprudent elopement with Mr. Wickham. Georgiana takes a strong liking to Elizabeth soon after the two meet.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is Mr. Darcy's aunt and Mr. Collins' patroness. Despite her self-conscious sophistication, she is inconsistent and arrogant. She doesn't play a musical instrument, yet boasts of being a musical expert. Another example of her "ill breeding" is her announcement (in the drawing room of her manor house Rosings, at Hunsford) that Mrs. Collins may play on the piano in Mrs. Jenkinson's room (Mrs. Jenkinson is a permanent resident at Rosings), saying, "She would be in nobody's way, you know, in that part of the house." Later, Lady Catherine shows up at the Bennets' home to forbid Elizabeth from marrying Darcy. That ill-advised action actually encourages Elizabeth and Darcy to restart their interrupted courtship. Ultimately, Lady Catherine's main purpose is to be an example of the upper-class snobbery which the novel satirizes. Lady Catherine de Bourgh was representative of women in the eighteenth century who were often “contrasted in unflattering ways with middle class women who were starting to organize in the mid-1800s.[1]

Caroline Bingley

Caroline Bingley is one of Charles Bingley's two sisters. She ruthlessly aspires to marry Mr. Darcy and is not deterred by his dislike for her. She is conniving and two-faced, professing great friendship and affection for Jane Bennet when in fact she does not like the Bennet family. She wants her brother to have nothing to do with them, despite his attraction to Jane, and she and their other sister, Louisa Hurst, do their best to prevent the match. As a result, when she warns Elizabeth of Wickham's true nature she is not believed. Mr. Darcy is quickly annoyed by her nearly every time she makes conversation with him.