Pride and Prejudice
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"
"How so? How can it affect them?"
"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."
"Is that his design in settling here?"
"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes."
"I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party." (14-19)
Mr. Bennet's style of communication is a kind of passive aggressive, teasing banter, most of which goes way, way over his wife's head. Why does he talk to her in this way (which presumably isn't the way he talks to, say, Bingley, when he goes to visit him)?
"You began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command to Miss Lucas. "You were Mr. Bingley's first choice."
"Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."
"Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice. To be sure that did seem as if he admired her—indeed I rather believe he did—I heard something about it—but I hardly know what—something about Mr. Robinson." (5.4-6)
If Mrs. Bennet were fishing any harder for a compliment, she'd have to get a permit.
[Mr. Darcy] was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. […] [Miss Bingley] persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.
"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. "You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."
"Oh! shocking!" cried Miss Bingley. "I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?" (11.11-16)
Darcy can't actually tell Miss Bingley that she doesn't stand a chance, but he lets her know in the only way he can—by shutting down her flirtation through bluntness.
It doesn't work.