Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice Quotes

  • Women and Femininity

    Chapter 1
    Mrs. Bennet

    "It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them." (1.32)

    Right away, we learn how powerless women are: there's literally no respectable way for the Bennet girls to meet Bingley unless their dad makes the first move.

    Chapter 8
    Miss Caroline Bingley

    [Miss Bingley:] "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.  A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."

    Here's a good look at some of the expectations for upper class women: music, singing, drawing, a nice voice, and a graceful walk. Notice anything missing? Oh yeah: any skills or accomplishments that aren't purely decorative. No calculus. No economy. No critical thinking. Only things that will help her attract a dude.

    Chapter 20
    Mr. Collins

    "Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity." (20.4)

    Mr. Collins wants to be happy when he's married. Fair enough. But he doesn't seem overly concerned—or, well, concerned at all—about his wife's happiness. Obvi. That's totally not the point.

    Chapter 26
    Jane Bennet

    My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgement, at my expense, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me. But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me; but if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. (26.26)

    Regina George has nothing on Caroline Bingley: we know that Caroline Bingley befriended Jane because she was the only tolerable woman around Netherfield. As soon as they were back in London—and as soon as she figured out that her brother thought Jane was pretty nice, too—she friend-dumps her.

    Chapter 29

    When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner, as proved that she was not used to have her judgement controverted. She inquired into Charlotte's domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, gave her a great deal of advice as to the management of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated in so small a family as hers, and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath this great lady's attention, which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others. (29.11-15)

    You'd think that, as an actual aristocrat, Lady Catherine would have a lot more to care about the poultry. But nope. She's basically telling Charlotte how to keep house—which is pretty rich coming from someone who must have dozens of servants.

    Chapter 39
    Lydia Bennet

    And when her sisters abused [the bonnet] as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, "Oh! but there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable. Besides, it will not much signify what one wears this summer, after the ——shire have left Meryton, and they are going in a fortnight." (39.3-4)

    Truth: we all know someone like this. And, just like now, some (thankfully, a lot more than today) people thought that all girls were ditzy idiots who wasted money on clothes and thought only about boys. Pride and Prejudice was so revolutionary in part because it showed that women could be lots of ways. (Check out "Brain Snacks" for a fun quote about that.)

    Chapter 51

    Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations; and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room, took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great while since she had been there. (51.4)

    Argh. Lydia makes us want to pull our hair out, and we're not even related to her. Here, she's just been rescued from social suicide by some anonymous benefactor, and all she can do is congratulate herself for being married. We're seriously glad she didn't have Facebook.

    Chapter 56
    Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    "Miss Bennet I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a more reasonable young woman. But do not deceive yourself into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away till you have given me the assurance I require." (56.56)

    And by "reasonable young woman," Lady Catherine means "someone who, like everyone else, will do exactly what I say." Lady Catherine is ridiculous, of course, but these moments really show us how awesome Elizabeth is.

    Chapter 61

    Pemberley was now Georgiana's home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended … By Elizabeth's instructions, she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself. (61.15)

    This is sweet: at the end, we get a nice model of female friendship. Lizzy and Georgiana end up best friends, and Lizzy even shows Georgiana that it's okay to, you know, tease your husband a little. It turns out that women need role models just as much as men do. (Also, can we point out here that Lizzy and Georgiana are basically the same age? Georgiana is about 18 here, and Lizzy is probably 21.)

    Mr. Darcy

    "All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading." (8.51-52)

    Mr. Darcy agrees with the superficial "accomplishments" that women should have, but his standards are even higher: she should also "improve" her mind through "extensive reading." But not, we suspect, so she can actually have ideas of her own—just so she can actually know what she's agreeing with, when she agrees with all of Mr. Darcy's opinions. (At least until Lizzy teaches him better, that is.)

  • Marriage

    Chapter 1

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (1.1-2)

    Historical Context Snack: men may have had it a little easier than women when it came the whole marrying thing, since they wouldn't be ruined without it. But they weren't supposed to stay swingin' singles forever, either. There was a lot of social pressure on men with money and/ or estates to marry and have children—it was their duty. Austen is bringing the snark here, but it works for a reason: it kind of was a universal truth that rich, single men needed to marry.

    Chapter 6
    Charlotte Lucas

    "Though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and, as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every half-hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses." (6.5-6)

    For Charlotte, there's no "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Mr. Bingley pushing the baby carriage." Instead, it's "First comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage"—and love is just a bonus.

    Chapter 19
    Mr. Collins

    "My situation in life, my connections with the family of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favour; and you should take it into further consideration, that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall choose to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females." (19.17)

    It is literally impossible for us to understand why Mr. Collins' helpful pro-con list didn't convince Lizzy to marry him immediately.

    "My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness.  […] But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place—which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. […]" (19.9)

    Mr. Collins' marriage proposal just keeps going on and on and on. It's all practicality. And it's the worst marriage proposal we have ever heard.

    Chapter 20
    Mr. Collins

    "Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity." (20.4)

    Notice how it's all about Mr. Collins' felicity, and not about his prospective wife's? Yeah. Good luck with that, Charlotte.

    Chapter 22

    Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to consider of it. Her reflections were in general satisfactory. Mr. Collins, to be sure, was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it. (22.3)

    Charlotte and the narrator lay it out for us here: marriage is Charlotte's only option. Even being married to Mr. Collins is better than having to live with her parents or as an unwanted and permanent houseguest with her brothers (think about Miss Bingley, who's still unmarried and living with her brother). We can't say we blame her.

    This was very amiable, but Charlotte's kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; its object was nothing else than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins' addresses, by engaging them towards herself. (22.1)

    Apparently the rule about not marrying your best friend's ex didn't apply in the nineteenth century. To be fair, Elizabeth assumes that no one could possibly want to marry Mr. Collins. You might even say she's too prejudiced to see it.

    Charlotte Lucas

    "I see what you are feeling," replied Charlotte. "You must be surprised, very much surprised—so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins' character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state." (22.17)

    As Socrates once said, the secret to happiness is having low expectations. (Or something like that.) Charlotte doesn't expect fireworks and earthquakes from her marriage; all she wants is a house to keep and, presumably, kids to raise. (Ugh, a houseful of tiny Collinses.)

    Chapter 34

    He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. (34.6)

    What does Darcy's boneheaded proposal have to do with marriage? It shows us exactly why he's not ready to tie the knot. He hasn't learned to respect Elizabeth yet, much less think about her feelings. A happy marriage takes a lot more work from both partners.

    Chapter 42

    Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort.  Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her.  Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. […] To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement.  This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given. Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behaviour as a husband.  She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.  But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. (42.1-3)

    There's a lot going on here. First of all, it seems that Lydia and Wickham's marriage might turn out to be similar to Mrs. Bennet's—Lydia has very little going on for her other than her youth. Second, the Bennets have a terrible marriage, and Elizabeth sees a giant "What Not to Do" sign flashing next to her parents. Lastly, a bad marriage will hurt the kids.

    Mr. Collins

    "My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. […] But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place—which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. […]" (19.9)

    Who needs love sonnets when you can have a numbered list? Here, Mr. Collins enumerates the reasons he wants to marry—and when those are checked off, then it's time to use "the most animated language," i.e. actually tell Lizzy he loves her. Which he obviously doesn't. Ugh, has anyone seen our barf bag?

    Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. (42.1)

    If Lizzy lived in the 21st century, she'd be from a broken home. Instead, she's from an unhappy home, because her father married for all the wrong reasons: lust, i.e. youth and beauty. And notice what's wrong with the marriage—there's no respect, esteem, or confidence. Marriage isn't about undying love or great sex: it's about respecting and trusting your partner.

    But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. (42.3)

    Bad marriages aren't just bad news for the spouses—they can destroy the kids' lives, too. And in the case of Darcy, the stakes are even higher. He doesn't just rule over a family of five daughters; he's the landlord of a huge estate. If he makes a bad marriage, he could ruin the lives of all his tenants. See? We told you this was serious stuff.

  • Wealth

    Chapter 3

    Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. (3.5)

    Well, this is encouraging: money might matter a lot, but, at least in Meryton, it doesn't matter enough to make people overlook Darcy's major personality defects.

    Chapter 5

    Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to his business, and to his residence in a small market town; and, in quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile from Meryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his own importance, and, unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world. (5.1)

    Here's one example of a man who made money in business: Sir William Lucas. Apparently, his social rise went something like this: acquired fortune, became mayor, addressed the king, received a knighthood, then decided he was too good to keep making money. And this, Shmoopers, is one of the contradictions that's maybe most confusing to us 21st century readers: everyone wants money, but actually going out and making it means that you'll be a social pariah. (All the cool kids get their money from renting out land on their estates, you see.)

    Chapter 13

    "Oh! my dear," cried his wife, "I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk of that odious man. I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed away from your own children; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should have tried long ago to do something or other about it." (13.8-9)

    Mrs. Bennet flips when she hears Mr. Collins' name, and we can't exactly blame her, but this passage also shows that she's kind of an idiot about money: it's not Mr. Bennet's fault that there's an entail on their house, and he can't just go "fix" it. It's the law. The point of the law is to keep the money and estate in the family, instead of seeing it split up among daughters or go to someone else's family when a daughter marries—which is really bad news if you just keep popping out girls.

    Chapter 22

    Mr. Collins, to be sure, was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to [Charlotte Lucas] must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it. (22.3)

    Charlotte is a "well-educated young woman of small fortune," which, once you add the fact that she's not very attractive, is actually tragic. She has almost no chance of marrying, and doing anything else—like being a governess, which would be an option—would kick her out of her social class. She either has to marry Mr. Collins or spend the rest of her life living in her brothers' houses and begging them for money. Seriously, can you blame her?

    Chapter 27
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary." (27.8-9)

    Lizzy points out to her aunt that tying marriage to money like this just makes the entire population hypocritical: Wickham can't marry her because that would be "imprudent," i.e. really dumb. But when he goes after an heiress, he gets called "mercenary," i.e. a gold-digger. This is literally a lose-lose situation for Wickham, not that he needs any help being a loser.

    Chapter 29

    The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship's desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. He carved, and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was commended, first by him and then by Sir William, who was now enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, in a manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish on the table proved a novelty to them. (29.14)

    Just because it's bad to be poor doesn't mean it's good to be rich: Lady Catherine is just as proud as her nephew Mr. Darcy, and (unlike him) she's also so conceited that she doesn't even notice that Mr. Collins is totally sucking up to her.

    Chapter 33
    Elizabeth Bennet

    [Colonel Fitzwilliam:] "[…] But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like."

    [Elizabeth:] "Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do."

    "Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."

    "Is this," thought Elizabeth, "meant for me?" and she coloured at the idea; but, recovering herself, said in a lively tone, "And pray, what is the usual price of an earl's younger son? Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds." (33.12-15)

    Here, Colonel Fitzwilliam slips Lizzy a little hint that, while he thinks she's cute and all, he's not about to marry her. He may be the son of an earl, but he's the younger son, which means he's not going to inherit the estate—unless his older brother dies. Lizzy recovers by making a joke about how much it costs to marry an earl's younger son (i.e., how much money does the girl have to bring to the marriage?) but Fitzwilliam is serious: he has to marry a rich woman to support him in the manner to which he's become accustomed—his "habits of expense." He's our clue that, while this system of marriage isn't great for women, it's not great for men, either.

    Chapter 39
    Lydia Bennet

    "And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia, "but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there." Then, showing her purchases—"Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better." (39.3)

    Ugh, Lydia. This is bad news for Wickham (of course, Wickham is bad news for her, too). Pro tip for the wife-hunting nineteenth-century gentlemen: make sure your bride-to-be can manage her money.

    Chapter 43

    The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings. (43.5)

    Elizabeth is wandering around admiring Pemberley, and what she notices is that it's elegant. Sure, it's expensive—it's "suitable to the fortune of its proprietor," which means no Ikea furniture to be found, but it's also not gaudy or "splendid." Like Shmoop's always said, you can't buy taste.

    Chapter 48

    All Meryton seemed striving to blacken the man who, but three months before, had been almost an angel of light. He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the place, and his intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman's family. (48.4)

    Notice how, once all the townspeople start Wickham's (justifiable) character assassination, the first thing they say is that he's in debt? We're glad they can't see our credit card statement.

  • Language and Communication

    Chapter 3
    Elizabeth Bennet

    On reaching the spacious lobby above they were shown into a very pretty sitting-room, lately fitted up with greater elegance and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that it was but just done to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley.

    "He is certainly a good brother," said Elizabeth, as she walked towards one of the windows. (3.1.43-44)

    Here, Darcy's actions are finally doing some actual communicating. As Elizabeth thinks about the way he treats his sister —not what he says, but how he actually puts some effort into making her comfy in the big estate —she can see more of the man inside the stiff, socially awkward exterior.

    But on returning to the drawing-room, when her letter was finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise, there was reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for her. On opening the door, she perceived her sister and Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away from each other, would have told it all. (3.8.21)

    Hey, body language! Elizabeth has no trouble putting together the clues to see what Jane and Bingley are up to. But why do you think we don't get to hear any of the successful proposals? Why only Mr. Collins' ridiculous proposal and Mr. Darcy's major flop?

    Chapter 5
    Mrs. Bennet

    "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.

    Chapter 11
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "And your defect is to hate everybody."

    "And yours," he replied with a smile, "is willfully to misunderstand them." (11.30-32)

    Lizzy thinks that Darcy hates everyone; Darcy thinks Lizzy purposefully doesn't understand them. Who's the worse communicator?

    Mr. Darcy

    [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.

    Chapter 14
    Mrs. Bennet

    "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)?

    Chapter 20
    Mr. Collins

    "When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the subject, I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me; though I am far from accusing you of cruelty at present, because I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application, and perhaps you have even now said as much to encourage my suit as would be consistent with the true delicacy of the female character."

    "Really, Mr. Collins," cried Elizabeth with some warmth, "you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as to convince you of its being one."

    "You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course." (20.16-18)

    Mr. Collins is basically totally taking away Elizabeth's ability to speak or form opinions, and trying to get her to accept this proposal just by sheer force of not accepting her refusals over and over again. Could he be any creepier?

    Chapter 39
    Jane Bennet

    "I will answer for it, he never cared three straws about her—who could about such a nasty little freckled thing?"

    Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had harboured and fancied liberal! (39.13-15)

    This is a really great moment, pointing out how that Lydia isn't some kind of totally alien outsider in her family. She's more like their irrepressible id, the side of all of them that's is interested in comfort, pleasure, food, and sex. It's not that Lydia thinks differently than others; it's just that she actually says what she's thinking. The girl just talks with no filter.

    Chapter 41
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "Yes, very different. But I think Mr. Darcy improves upon acquaintance."

    "Indeed!" cried Mr. Wickham with a look which did not escape her. "And pray, may I ask?—" But checking himself, he added, in a gayer tone, "Is it in address that he improves? Has he deigned to add aught of civility to his ordinary style?—for I dare not hope," he continued in a lower and more serious tone, "that he is improved in essentials."

    "Oh, no!" said Elizabeth. "In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was. […] When I said that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that his mind or his manners were in a state of improvement, but that, from knowing him better, his disposition was better understood."

    Wickham's alarm now appeared in a heightened complexion and agitated look. (41.33-38)

    We hear you. What about this totally innocent conversation could possibly make Wickham freak out? Well, with so many rules about how and what one person can say to another in public, just a slight shift away from the standard is enough to convey a whole bunch of extra meaning—like, "I know you're a liar and a cheat."

    The rapture of Lydia on this occasion, her adoration of Mrs. Forster, the delight of Mrs. Bennet, and the mortification of Kitty, are scarcely to be described. Wholly inattentive to her sister's feelings, Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstasy, calling for everyone's congratulations, and laughing and talking with more violence than ever; whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repined at her fate in terms as unreasonable as her accent was peevish. (41.12)

    In Pride and Prejudice, selfishness and self-importance are the opposite of empathy and fellow-feeling. Here, despite Kitty's histrionics, Lydia can't even see that she's upset. No wonder Lydia constantly misunderstand everything, ever.

  • Society and Class

    Chapter 4

    They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by trade. (4.11)

    The Miss Bingleys may think a lot of themselves, but we know better: their fortune comes from "trade," i.e. business. They may be sophisticated and well-educated, but when you come right down to it, they're not higher ranked than the Bennets—they're just richer. In fact, you could almost say that they're lower ranked than the Bennets, since as far as we know all the Bennet money comes from land. (Confused? Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to us, either.)

    Chapter 9
    Mrs. Bennet

    "Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four-and-twenty families." (9.25)

    Mrs. Bennet is insisting that there are plenty of people to hang out with in the country (as opposed to the town), but the subtext here is that only certain people actually count as "people." And Mrs. Bennet's standards are a lot lower than Darcy's.

    Chapter 18
    Mr. Collins

    "My dear Miss Elizabeth, […] permit me to say, that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy; for, give me leave to observe that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highest rank in the kingdom—provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time maintained. […]" And with a low bow he left her to attack Mr. Darcy. (18.57)

    Lizzy tries to convince Mr. Collins that Mr. Darcy really, really doesn't want to meet him, but Collins mansplains to her that "rank" doesn't mean the same thing to clergy that it does the rest of the world. Sure. That may be true, but annoying is annoying is annoying, no matter what your title.

    Chapter 29
    Mr. Collins

    "Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel.  Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter.  I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more.  Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed.  She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved." (29.6)

    In other words, Lady Catherine likes to look socially superior to her guests. That's a bit vain…

    Chapter 34

    He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit. (34.5)

    Excuse us while we snicker for a minute. Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth is more about how he's losing class by proposing to her than it is about he, you know, loves her. Smooth move, guy.

    Chapter 48
    Mr. Collins

    "The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. […] Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?" (48.11)

    When so much revolves around class status, what one person does affects the whole family. When Lydia runs off, she actually casts shame on her sisters. (If you're thinking that this sounds a lot like high school, we… kind of agree with you.)

    Chapter 56
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter; so far we are equal." (56.51)

    You tell her, girl. Lady Catherine has just come to tell her exactly why she's not worthy to marry Darcy, and Lizzy sums up exactly why she is: "He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter." Sure, he has more money—but her birth and character are just as good as him. Yep, this is maybe Shmoop's favorite line in all of Pride and Prejudice.

    Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    "Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man's marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephew's sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father's steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth! —of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?" (56.63)

    To be fair, we sympathize with not wanting to be related to Wickham—but not because he's basically a servant's son; because he's a deceitful, gambling seducer. Either way, Lady Catherine's response is hilariously over the top: "Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted," as though Elizabeth is actually going to make the estate dirty.

    Chapter 57
    Mr. Collins

    "'After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became apparent, that on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.'" (57.24)

    Okay, is Mr. Collins seriously the worst, or what? (He's the worst.) Here, he takes it on himself to write to Mr. Bennet and tell him that Lady Catherine would never approve Mr. Darcy's marriage to Elizabeth, as though (1) he's been asked, (2) there's any engagement, (3) anyone gives a rat's tail about what Mr. Collins thinks about class status.

    Chapter 61
    Lydia Bennet

    "MY DEAR LIZZY,

    "I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.

    "Yours, etc." (61.7)

    Here's one reason to care about the family of the person you're marrying: they might constantly be asking for money. But here we see how important marriage is to maintaining your class status. Elizabeth is still a gentlewoman; Lydia, not so much. (If she ever was.)

    Mr. Collins

    "Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved." (29.6)

    We are so sure that Lizzy is comforted to know Lady Catherine won't mind her Jason Wu for Target dress. You wouldn't want everyone to be wandering around in Valentino, right?

  • Principles

    Chapter 5
    Charlotte Lucas

    "His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend <em>me</em> so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it.  One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself.  If I may so express it, he has a <em>right</em> to be proud." (5.18)

    Miss Lucas thinks that if you have everything going for you, you have a right to be proud. Do you agree with Charlotte?

    Chapter 10
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "To yield readily—easily—to the <em>persuasion</em> of a friend is no merit with you."

    "To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either."

    "You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request, without waiting for arguments to reason one into it." (10.35-37)

    In this banter between Darcy and Elizabeth (which, incidentally, is one of the first times he gets a sense of the "lively mind" that he talks about falling in love with later), we get one of the several philosophical questions discussed in the novel: just how much should you listen to your friends? Should you listen or should you demand proof for their opinions?

    Chapter 32
    Mr. Darcy

    "I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."

    "My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe <em>my</em> fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."

    Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers." (32.24-26)

    Here is another one of these philosophical conundrums. How much effort should a person make to be pleasant to strangers? Shouldn't it just be enough (like Darcy thinks) to do lots of good things and not worry too much about outward appearances and being a polite human?

    Chapter 41
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances."

    "If you were aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage to us all which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner—nay, which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair." (41.15-16)

    Huh. So both Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet kind of know all along that Lydia's whole Brighton adventure is going to end in nothing but trouble. It's interesting that Mr. Bennet's approach to raising his daughter is one that is probably more often used for boys (since his theory is that Lydia needs to sow wild oats at some point in her teenage years). Elizabeth, on the other hand, has a little more perspective on the fact that, in their society, what would be water under the bridge for boys would mean social annihilation for girls.

    Chapter 46

    If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth's change of sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty. But if otherwise—if regard springing from such sources is unreasonable or unnatural, in comparison of what is so often described as arising on a first interview with its object, and even before two words have been exchanged, nothing can be said in her defence, except that she had given somewhat of a trial to the latter method in her partiality for Wickham, and that its ill success might, perhaps, authorise her to seek the other less interesting mode of attachment. Be that as it may, she saw him go with regret. (46.24)

    This is one of the few times that the narrator just comes right out and tells us what principle of life is being debunked.  Here, for example, it's the idea of love at first sight, which is clearly for Austen a far inferior idea than don't judge a book by its cover.

    Chapter 47
    Mary Bennet and Kitty Bennet

    [Mary:] "Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable; that one false step involves her in endless ruin; that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex." (47.44)

    Here, Mary is clearly echoing the sort of horrible, formal advice given to young ladies by the conduct books (books about how to behave and why) being published at the time. The awful humor here is that, of course, in the actual situation of the Bennets, with actual human beings, with real feelings involved, no one wants to hear this unsympathetic nonsense about the purity of women.

    Chapter 51
    Jane Bennet

    "If it was to be secret," said Jane, "say not another word on the subject. You may depend upon my seeking no further." […] Jane's delicate sense of honour would not allow her to speak to Elizabeth privately of what Lydia had let fall; Elizabeth was glad of it;—till it appeared whether her inquiries would receive any satisfaction, she had rather be without a confidante. (51.28-35)

    For a character who is often kind of dismissed for being overly nice and trusting of everyone, Jane actually has a fairly complicated moral code. First, the idea of never prejudging a situation and giving everyone as much benefit of the doubt as possible—and now this, the ability to repress curiosity entirely. Impressive!

    Chapter 56
    Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    "You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?[…] You are then resolved to have him?"

    "I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to <em>you</em>, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. […] Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude," replied Elizabeth, "have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former <em>were</em> excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment's concern—and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn." (56.64-69)

    Here, in the totally ridiculous person of Lady de Bourgh, we actually get one of the main philosophical questions of the novel. How much should someone bow to the demands of the surrounding society? How much emphasis should be put on the happiness of the individual? Does the novel resolve this question? Or does the ending kind of sidestep this issue after raising it here and there?

    Chapter 59
    Mr. Bennet

    "I have given him my consent. He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse anything, which he condescended to ask. I now give it to <em>you</em>, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing <em>you</em> unable to respect your partner in life." (59.36)

    This is kind of interesting, as far as we can get a sense of Mr. Bennet's views on partnership as a necessary part of marriage. The idea itself is kind of confused, though—which should Elizabeth want, equality of intelligence, since she would be miserable in an "unequal marriage"? Or does Mr. Bennet still think that in a relationship the man must be smarter than the woman, so that she would think him "a superior"? If it's the latter, then shouldn't his own marriage be totally awesome?

  • Love

    Chapter 6

    But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. (6.12)

    Uh oh. Sounds like someone (Mr. Darcy) has a little crush on Lizzy. But let's tear this down a little. What, exactly, does he like about her? Her "intelligent" expression; her "light and pleasing" figure; and the "easy playfulness" of her manners—in other words, her brains, her body, and her personality. That's the full package, Shmoopers, and that's one way we know this marriage is going to last.

    Chapter 21
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. No one who has ever seen you together can doubt his affection. Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this: We are not rich enough or grand enough for them" (21.18)

    Lizzy is trying to convince Jane that Bingley really does love her, but Miss Bingley is trying to keep them apart. (Duh.) Notice Austen uses "affection" almost as a synonym for "love." We usually think of "affection" as a pretty mild emotion, but does it mean something stronger for Austen?

    Chapter 22

    In as short a time as Mr. Collins' long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained. (22.2)

    Here, Charlotte is accepting Mr. Collins, and hoo boy is there a lot to say. Obviously, this passage is dripping with sarcasm: "in as short a time as Mr. Collins' long speeches with allow," "the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness," the "pure and disinterested desire of an establishment"—we might even call Austen catty, if we used that kind of language. But what really grabs our attention is that phrase "pure and disinterested." On the one hand, this is heavy irony: Charlotte's desire to have her own home is the exact opposite of pure and disinterested (meaning "not influenced by personal advantage"). On the other hand, "love" is pretty much the pinnacle of being "interested"—i.e., having a personal investment in something or someone. So, by not being in love with Collins, Charlotte is being disinterested—but not uninterested. Tricky tricky, Miss Austen.

    Elizabeth quietly answered "Undoubtedly;" and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard.  It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins' making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted.  She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen. (22.18)

    This passage demonstrates Elizabeth's idealism—one should marry out of love and respect, not for material comfort. Luckily Elizabeth gets her wish in the form of Darcy. But in addition to love, she also bags the richest guy in the book. Hmm.

    Chapter 24
    Mr. Bennet

    Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." (24.26)

    LOL, Dad. It's so hilarious when one of your daughters is totally humiliated by the man who everyone thought she was going to marry. Right? Right?? We don't know if Mr. Bennet was ever capable of love, or whether his experiences with his wife just crushed his idealism, but either way he's not setting a very good example for his daughters.

    Chapter 26

    All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on: "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I certainly should be a more interesting object to all my acquaintances were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance." (26.28)

    Lizzy jokingly tells Mrs. Gardiner that she can't possibly be in love with Wickham, because she doesn't hate him enough now that he's moved on to flirting with someone else. But… we're pretty sure she's kidding. A "pure and elevating passion" like love would never leave you "detesting" someone else. In other words, if you really loved your ex, you'd wish him well. (Although you might still unfriend him on Facebook.)

    Chapter 34
    Mr. Darcy

    "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." (34.4)

    Aw, so romantic! Or is it? When Mr. Darcy tells Lizzy that he loves her, he leads with: "I didn't want to tell you this," and the subtext is, "because I totally think you're beneath me." Remind us again why people put this line on coffee cups?

    Chapter 35
    Mr. Darcy

    "Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard, and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny, that though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment. If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in error. Your superior knowledge of your sister must make the latter probable. If it be so, if I have been misled by such error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall not scruple to assert, that the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such as might have given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched." (35.3)

    Uh oh. It looks like Charlotte was right, after all: Jane didn't give Bingley enough encouragement. This is tricky. On the one hand, you can't wear your heart on your sleeve—or your bosom—like Lydia; on the other hand, you need to flirt a little. No wonder half of these people stay single, if the rules are so complicated. What happened to passing someone a note saying "Will you go out with me? Check 'yes' or 'no.'"

    Chapter 43

    Her astonishment, however, was extreme, and continually was she repeating, "Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me—it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me." (43.60)

    You know we like to say that you should never change yourself for someone else? Yeah, Austen doesn't agree. You definitely should change yourself for the person you love—as long as the person you love is trying to make you a better person rather than make you start dressing all preppy.

    Mr. Bennet

    Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently.  "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find.  I congratulate her.  Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed a little in love now and then.  It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort of distinction among her companions.  When is your turn to come?  You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane.  Now is your time.  Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country.  Let Wickham be <em>your</em> man.  He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." (43.27)

    As always, there's a truth behind Mr. Bennet's sarcasm. Here he's making fun of drama queens whose tragedy du jour gives them a certain amount of cache among their girlfriends.

    Mrs. Bennet

    "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." (1.19)

    To Mrs. Bennet, "love" is more about proximity than compatibility. Mr. Bingley is "likely" to fall in love with her daughters because (1) he's going to be nearby, and (2) he's rich and single, and they're female and single. With criteria like that, no wonder her marriage is so awful.

    She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen. (22.18)

    We don't find out exactly what Lizzy's opinion of matrimony is, but we suspect that it doesn't include essentially prostituting yourself to an idiot in order to have your own house. But let's be real: Lizzy is twenty and pretty. Charlotte is twenty-seven and plain. If Lizzy were in the same situation that Charlotte is, she might not feel so idealistic.

  • Deceit

    Chapter 7
    Jane Bennet

    "Can I have the carriage?" said Jane.

    "No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night." (7.22-23)

    All's fair in love and war, including incredibly transparent tricks. Luckily, Mr. Bingley is way too good-natured to see through it, even if his sisters do.

    Chapter 8
    Miss Caroline Bingley

    "Elizabeth Bennet," said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, "is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art."

    "Undoubtedly," replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, "there is a meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable." (8.56-57)

    Miss Bingley thinks being sooooo smooth when she hits on Mr. Darcy, but he sees right through her. We're not sure if she gets it, though, since she keeps on trying.

    Chapter 17
    Jane Bennet

    "They have both," said she, "been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side." (17.1-2)

    Jane can't believe Wickham's story about Darcy, so she comes up with an explanation: they've been deceived. Unfortunately, they're the ones who are being deceived by that class A liar, Wickham.

    Chapter 24

    Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter, she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any comfort. Miss Darcy's praise occupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again dwelt on, and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter. She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother's being an inmate of Mr. Darcy's house, and mentioned with raptures some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture. (24.1-2)

    New furniture is just a cover for Caroline Bingley's real purpose in writing—to tell Jane that she'd better quit thinking she's ever going to marry her brother.

    Chapter 32

    But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more difficult to understand. It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice—a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared really animated. (32.29)

    Mr. Darcy is actually taking Lizzy's advice here and practicing talking to people he doesn't know well. (It doesn't seem to be going very well.) But she's so convinced that he's an arrogant jerk, she doesn't even see what he's doing.

    Chapter 36
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "How despicably I have acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself." (36.18-19)

    Super important moment: Lizzy says that now she finally gets herself. She's just as prejudiced and prideful as anyone else, and she let her own personal feelings deceive her. Hey, better late than never.

    As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. (36.4)

    We'd like to blame Wickham for setting out to deceive the entire town, which he did. But Lizzy also blames herself: she set herself up to be deceived by focusing on his pretty face.

    Chapter 40
    Elizabeth Bennet

    "There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it." (40.14-15)

    This is Darcy and Wickham that she's talking about. Wickham is basically evil, and Darcy is, well, all you have to do is google "Darcy perfect man" to see what people think about him. But when we first meet them, we're just as taken in as Lizzy.

    Chapter 42

    But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. (42.3)

    Here Elizabeth realizes for the first time that her father isn't exactly Dad of the Year. It's just one of many, many revelations about her friends and family that Elizabeth has to have before she's worthy of marrying Mr. Perfect.

    Chapter 47
    Lydia Bennet

    ``MY DEAR HARRIET,
    You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. […] Your affectionate friend,
    LYDIA BENNET.'' (47.60)

    Well, it's nice to know that Lydia really thought Wickham was going to marry her. It seems that Wickham has just been tricking a very naïve and trusting girl, because we find out for certain that Wickham had no intention of marrying Lydia when we read Mrs. Gardiner's letter to Lizzy about the whole scandal and Darcy's involvement. It's almost (almost) enough to make us feel sorry for Lydia.

    Chapter 56
    Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    [Elizabeth:] "Indeed, you are mistaken, Madam. I have not been at all able to account for the honour of seeing you here."

    "Miss Bennet," replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, "you ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this, I shall certainly not depart from it." (56.25-26)

    We sort of have to love Lady Catherine the bulldozer. She's not up to any tricks here, and is totally blunt about her anger that Elizabeth might be engaged to Darcy. Most characters would dance around the topics with a bunch of passive-aggressive insinuations. Apparently, rank does come with some privileges.

  • Family

    Chapter 20
    Mr. Bennet

    "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." (18.20)

    To be honest, knowing that we'd never see Mrs. Bennet again is definitely motivation enough not to marry Mr. Collins. (As though we needed any more.) But we should point out that "see" here means more like, "recognize" or "acknowledge." Basically, Lizzy is being threatened with being disowned—a very real possibility. Well, probably not for refusing to marry someone. But, in most families, Lydia could well have been kicked out forever.

    Chapter 37

    Her father, contented with laughing at them, would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; and her mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil. […] Catherine, weak-spirited, irritable, and completely under Lydia's guidance, had been always affronted by their advice; and Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give them a hearing. They were ignorant, idle, and vain. (37.17)

    Yikes. The worse we've ever said about our little siblings is that they were being pests, and even then we didn't really mean it. How is it possible that the five sisters are so different? And would having good parents really have made a difference?

    Chapter 42

    But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. (42.3)

    You know that painful moment when you realize that your parents aren't perfect? Lizzy probably never had to experience that with her mom, but this is the moment she figures out that her father isn't quite as awesome as she thought. Unpleasant, sure—but it's a crucial part of growing up.

    Chapter 43
    Mr. Bennet

    "Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Wherever you and Jane are known you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of—or I may say, three—very silly sisters." (43.20)

    Just one more example of how little Mr. Bennet understand about the way family works. It's like a nightmare version of the Three Musketeers, you know, one for all and all for one: what Lydia does reflects badly on the entire family. (But we have to ask: if Kitty and Mary had been sensible, would Lydia's personality have mattered less? Could four good reputations outweigh one bad?)

    "Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances." (43.15)

    And that, Mr. Bennet, is where you're wrong. He thinks that sending Lydia to Brighton to get her kicks out will minimize the damage, but it actually ends up almost destroying the family. Good thing Darcy steps in to save the day—and to keep the family respectable enough to marry into.

    Elizabeth Bennet

    "If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself or her family ridiculous; […] Oh! my dear father, can you suppose it possible that they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known, and that their sisters will not be often involved in the disgrace?" (43.18)

    Mr. Bennet thinks that Lydia's behavior isn't going to reflect badly on Lizzy or Jane, but he's wrong. Maybe if he ever left his library to supervise his daughters at one of those balls where they make themselves ridiculous, he'd actually know something about how the world works.

    Chapter 45

    Their visit did not continue long after the question and answer above mentioned; and while Mr. Darcy was attending them to their carriage Miss Bingley was venting her feelings in criticisms on Elizabeth's person, behaviour, and dress. But Georgiana would not join her. Her brother's recommendation was enough to ensure her favour; his judgement could not err. (45.12)

    Now, this is how to do family: Georgiana agrees with her brother's every opinion. If only our brother felt the same way. (To be fair, Darcy is actually right about this one.)

    Chapter 56
    Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    "Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man's marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephew's sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father's steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth! —of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?" (56.63)

    We forgive you for getting a little confused with all these uncles and nephews. We're not saying family doesn't matter, but Lady Catherine really seems to be taking it a step too far. It's like she thinks she's going to be polluted by being very, very, very distantly related to Wickham.

    Chapter 61

    Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great. She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia; and, removed from the influence of Lydia's example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. From the further disadvantage of Lydia's society she was of course carefully kept, and though Mrs. Wickham frequently invited her to come and stay with her, with the promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent to her going. (61.4)

    Family can drag you down, so here's a nice example of it actually lifting someone up. By spending time with the right sisters (Jane and Lizzy), Kitty becomes a little more tolerable. (But notice that she doesn't actually gain any positive character trains—just becomes "less" annoying.)

  • Pride

    Charlotte Lucas

    "His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud." (5.18)

    It looks like Charlotte agrees with Mr. Darcy: some people really do deserve to be proud. Of course, notice that she doesn't say anything about his character. She thinks he has a right to be proud because he's good looking and comes from a rich family.

    Mary Bennet and Kitty Bennet

    "Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." (5.20)

    Mary is our Greek chorus girl, parroting the advice manuals that were popular in the early nineteenth-century. (It's like going around and quoting self-help books.) Sure, she sounds like a real stick-in-the-mud. At the same time, isn't she kind of right? There is a difference between pride and vanity—and it's a lesson that Lizzy and Darcy both have to learn.

    Mr. Darcy

    "Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation." (11.18)

    When Lizzy needles Darcy about his pride, he fights back: it's fine to have a big ego if you actually have the skillz to support it.

    I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. (50.24)

    Ooh, get out the highlighter, because this is the first time that Darcy admits some of his pride might not have been justified. In fact, it may have been a lot more like conceit.

    A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when the living of Hunsford was vacant; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as his patroness, mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman, and his right as a rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility. (15.1)

    It's one thing when Mr. Darcy struts around feeling good about himself, because, as we know, he's awesome. It's quite another for gross Mr. Collins, who has literally nothing to be proud of.

    He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit. (34.5)

    Mr. Darcy's marriage proposal is more about himself than about Elizabeth—and that makes two for Lizzy, since Mr. Collins' was just a grosser version of the same thing. With options like that, no wonder she keeps saying no.

    Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were very easy and pleasant, encouraged her communicativeness by his questions and remarks; Mrs. Reynolds, either by pride or attachment, had evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister. (43.23)

    Mrs. Reynolds is the housekeeper at Pemberley, and she seems to take more pride in the Darcy family than he does. But from what she says, there's a lot to be proud of. Is this a case of justifiable pride?

    Mr. Wickham

    "It has often led him to be liberal and generous, to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride—for he is very proud of what his father was—have done this. Not to appear to disgrace his family, to degenerate from the popular qualities, or lose the influence of the Pemberley House, is a powerful motive. He has also brotherly pride, which, with some brotherly affection, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister, and you will hear him generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers." (16.38-40)

    Even Wickham admits that Darcy's pride has some good characteristics: he's got family pride, which means that he's careful not to do anything that would disgrace his father. Gee. It's a shame Wickham doesn't have a little bit of that, too.

    Elizabeth Bennet

    "How despicably I have acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself." (36.10)

    Ouch. Who needs enemies when you've got yourself for a friend? Here, Lizzy berates herself for her "vanity"—not the vanity of thinking she's hot stuff or anything, but the vanity of thinking that she's actually a good judge of character (her "discernment"). Instead, she's been swayed by Wickham's pretty face and his flirty attentions.

    "I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. […] Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude," replied Elizabeth, "have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment's concern—and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn." (56.64-69)

    Elizabeth doesn't use the word "pride" here, but that's exactly what she's talking about: acting in a way that's consistent with her own (high) opinion of herself. And that's got to be a good feeling.

  • Prejudice

    Mr. Wickham

    "His pride never deserts him; but with the rich he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable—allowing something for fortune and figure." (16.47)

    There's that word "liberal" associated with being just, sincere, and rational—all the qualities that are exactly the opposite of being prejudiced and refusing to see the world and people as they actually are.

    Elizabeth Bennet

    "I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created."

    "I am," said he, with a firm voice.

    "And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?"

    "I hope not." (18.28-30)

    Well, this isn't actually true. But we have to say, Darcy might just be the least prejudiced person in the novel. Sure, he doesn't take to Lizzy immediately—but he's definitely right about her family being complete fools.

    Mr. Wickham's society was of material service in dispelling the gloom which the late perverse occurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family. They saw him often, and to his other recommendations was now added that of general unreserve. The whole of what Elizabeth had already heard, his claims on Mr. Darcy, and all that he had suffered from him, was now openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed; and everybody was pleased to know how much they had always disliked Mr. Darcy before they had known anything of the matter. (24.30)

    The people of Meryton are congratulating themselves for deciding that they hated Mr. Darcy on sight. Okay, guys. Don't strain your shoulders patting yourselves on the back about being prejudiced idiots, or anything.

    With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield. (36.1)

    Lizzy finally has the chance to learn who Mr. Darcy really is, but she's not interested—not at first. It takes a couple readings of his letter for her prejudices to start to fall away.

    As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. (36.4)

    When she thinks back, Lizzy admits that she was totally prejudiced toward Wickham. It's a good reminder that prejudice doesn't always mean disliking someone ahead of time; it can also mean deciding to like someone without any good reason.

    She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. (36.7)

    Ouch. We do not want to be Lizzy right now; this kind of self-awareness is super uncomfortable. She's admitting to herself that she's been exactly the kind of silly, prejudiced person she's always mocked.

    Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had harboured and fancied liberal! (39.15)

    When the Bennet sisters are talking about Mary King, Wickham's one-time girlfriend, Lydia says some pretty nasty things about her. It's a big wakeup call to Lizzy, who realizes that she's just as prejudiced as Lydia—she just knows better than to say it out loud.

    Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted, and was impatient for more. Mrs. Reynolds could interest her on no other point. She related the subjects of the pictures, the dimensions of the rooms, and the price of the furniture, in vain. Mr. Gardiner, highly amused by the kind of family prejudice to which he attributed her excessive commendation of her master, soon led again to the subject; and she dwelt with energy on his many merits as they proceeded together up the great staircase. (43.47)

    Even servants have family prejudice—but is it really prejudice? A housekeeper would definitely see a family at their absolute worst. So, if Mrs. Reynolds really has nothing but good things to say, maybe Darcy actually is a good guy.

    She explained what its effect on her had been, and how gradually all her former prejudices had been removed. (50.19)

    Little by little, Lizzy has dropped her prejudices against Darcy. Do you think that she's learned her lesson about not judging people? Or is this a one-time-only deal? (We like to think that she's learned her lesson.)

    This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities. Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him. (55.50)

    Okay, but really: is it actually prejudice to not like your brother-in-law for breaking you and your boyfriend up? Or isn't that just good judgment based on observable fact?