Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

  • Although the women of the house badger Mr. Bennet for more info, Mr. Bennet isn't giving it up easily.
  • Instead, the Bennet ladies get the deets from their neighbor, Lady Lucas, who reports that Mr. Bingley is handsome, easygoing, and loves dancing. Jackpot!
  • In accord with the societal norms of the day, Mr. Bingley returns Mr. Bennet's visit. The two men sit in the library for about ten minutes, which sounds super fun (not), but we do learn that Mr. Bingley has heard that the girls are pretty.
  • With all the niceties out of the way, Mrs. Bennet can finally invite Mr. Bingley to dinner. Bummer! He's going to be out of town.
  • This sends Mrs. Bennet into a flurry of: Why is he going into town? Will he always be traveling? Why doesn't he want to stay at Netherfield?
  • It's cool: Lady Lucas tells Mrs. Bennet that Mr. Bingley is going to London to bring back lots of guests for the upcoming public ball.
  • And by "lots" we mean four: his two sisters (one of whom is married), his brother-in-law, and a young man.
  • Ooh, a young man.
  • First, though, we have to get a description of Mr. Bingley and company.
  • Mr. Bingley is good looking and easygoing.
  • His sisters are fashionable snobs.
  • The brother-in-law is named Mr. Hurst, and he's a gentleman, which is apparently all there is to know about that.
  • But the young man is way more interesting: he's rich. Really rich.
  • Ooh, what a good-looking, nice, wonderful man, everyone says.
  • A little while later, everyone's all, "Ooh, what a jerk!"
  • So what happened?
  • Well, it turns out that Mr. Darcy (the guy) considers himself better than everyone else at the ball.
  • In all fairness, he's out in the boonies of England, which makes him the equivalent of a Manhattan socialite at a square dance.
  • Although Mr. Bingley is also, figuratively speaking, a Manhattan socialite at a rural square dance, and he delves right into the party. He talks to everyone, dances all night, and is bummed that the ball ends early. Solution: He'll throw his own ball!
  • Meanwhile, the locals can't stand Mr. Darcy. He dances only twice (once with each of Mr. Bingley's sisters), doesn't talk to anyone, and stalks around the drawing room, disapproving of everything.
  • Since there aren't enough guys to go around, Elizabeth has to sit out two of the dances. As she's sitting down and minding her own business, she overhears a conversation between Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.
  • The conversation goes something like this:
  • Mr. Bingley: Hey, Darcy, there are some really gorgeous girls here. Why don't you go dance with some of them?
  • Mr. Darcy: Bingley, you're dancing with the only good-looking girl here, i.e. Elizabeth's older sister Jane.
  • Untrue! says Bingley. Jane's sister (Elizabeth) is available and also good-looking.
  • Mr. Darcy looks at Elizabeth and gives her the old once-over; he then turns to Mr. Bingley and delivers one of literature's most famous put-downs: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me."
  • Elizabeth just laughs it off and tells the story to all her friends.
  • Aside from that little incident, the entire Bennet family has a great time at the ball—except for Mr. Bennet, who never goes to balls.
  • At home, Mrs. Bennet immediately launches into a play-by-play of Mr. Bingley's movements and all his dance partners, until Mr. Bennet finally begs her to be quiet. Ladies' fashion isn't of much interest to him either. But Mr. Darcy's rudeness is something everyone can agree on.

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