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Summary of Pride and Prejudice

List of Characters

To provide more context, here is the list of characters in Pride and Prejudice:

  • Elizabeth Bennet: The novel’s protagonist. She’s the second oldest of the Bennet sisters. Elizabeth is intelligent, witty and has a sharp tongue. She initially holds a strong prejudice against Mr Darcy.
  • Mr Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy): A wealthy, proud man who initially appears arrogant and looks down on the society of Hertfordshire. Over time, he falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet.
  • Jane Bennet: Elizabeth’s older sister. She’s serene, kind and universally liked. Jane is the eldest Bennet sister and forms an attachment to Mr Bingley.
  • Mr Bingley (Charles Bingley): A rich, charming, and social young man who rents Netherfield Park and quickly takes a liking to Jane Bennet.
  • Mrs Bennet: The Bennet sisters’ mother. She’s obsessed with getting her daughters married.
  • Mr Bennet: The Bennet sisters’ father. He’s sarcastic, introspective, and prefers to remain detached from the silliness surrounding him. He has a particular fondness for Elizabeth.
  • Lydia Bennet: The youngest Bennet sister. She’s frivolous and reckless, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
  • Kitty (Catherine) Bennet: The fourth Bennet sister. She often follows Lydia’s lead and is similarly frivolous.
  • Mary Bennet: The third Bennet sister. She’s pious and bookish, often overshadowed by her livelier sisters.
  • Mr Collins (William Collins): A pompous, obsequious clergyman who stands to inherit the Bennet’s estate, Longbourn. He initially intends to marry Elizabeth.
  • Charlotte Lucas: Elizabeth’s close friend. She’s pragmatic and chooses to marry Mr Collins for security rather than love.
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Mr Darcy’s wealthy, arrogant aunt. She’s domineering and attempts to control the romantic lives of those around her, especially her nephew.
  • Mr Wickham (George Wickham): A handsome and charming militia officer who has a history with Mr Darcy and later runs away with Lydia Bennet.
  • Miss Bingley (Caroline Bingley): Mr Bingley’s snobbish sister who looks down on the Bennets and has her own designs on Mr Darcy.
  • Mr Gardiner and Mrs Gardiner: Elizabeth’s sensible and caring aunt and uncle. They play pivotal roles in later parts of the story, especially during the Lydia-Wickham crisis.
  • Colonel Fitzwilliam: Mr Darcy’s affable cousin and Lady Catherine’s nephew. He forms a friendship with Elizabeth when she visits Charlotte and Mr Collins.

Chapters 1 to 10

The novel opens with Mrs Bennet trying to encourage Mr Bennet to find suitors for their daughters. Mr Bennet doesn’t seem too concerned about the idea. The opening also introduces that an eligible bachelor, Mr Bingley, has moved into a nearby country estate.

Bingley returns from London accompanied by his two sisters, one of their husbands, and his friend, Mr Darcy. Bingley hosts the Bennet family at his house. The family is pleased to see Jane being invited to dance with Mr Bingley. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, whose perspective the novel tracks in the third person, notices how cold and aloof Bingley’s friend Mr Darcy is. He is overheard telling Mr Bingley that Elizabeth is only “tolerable” and not handsome enough to tempt him.

Tensions rise between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy through spirited dialogue.

Jane and Elizabeth spend more time at Netherfield, and the attraction grows between Mr Bingley and Jane, to the approval of Bingley’s sisters. Meanwhile, Elizabeth remains guarded against Mr Darcy, and is unaware that he has unwillingly become drawn to her now. He mentions Elizabeth having “fine eyes”, which Miss Bingley teases him about.

Jane receives an invite to attend a dinner at Netherfield. Elizabeth becomes concerned for her sister’s welfare, so follows Jane to Netherfield, finding Jane quite ill. Reluctantly, Miss Bingley invites Elizabeth to stay. The next day, the Bennet family come to visit and Elizabeth finds herself embarrassed by their ill-mannered behaviour.

Chapters 11 to 20

Darcy resolves to be less attentive to Elizabeth, thinking this will dismiss his fascination with her. Meanwhile, Jane feels better and the sisters want to return home, but Mrs Bennet resists by not sending the carriage. They borrow Bingley’s instead.

Upon their return home, Mr Bennet announces that his cousin will visit soon. His cousin, William Collins (Mr Collins) will inherit their family estate (Longbourn) after Mr Bennet dies because the estate must go to a male heir. Mr Collins proves himself pretentious and does not hesitate to talk long about his patronage from Lady Catherine. With a good house and income, Mr Collins has decided that now is the time for him to marry. His plan is to choose one of the Bennet daughters.

Next evening, there is a dinner party where a new character, Mr Wickham, sits with Elizabeth; they get on very well. Elizabeth is horrified when she hears more about Mr Darcy’s behaviour from Wickham. Upon discussing the revelations about past interactions between the characters, Jane refuses to think poorly of Darcy or Wickham, while Elizabeth believes Darcy had duped Bingley.

Mr Collins also shows interest in pursuing Elizabeth. When he proposes to Elizabeth, she declines, leaving her family shocked. Mr Collins then shifts his attention to Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas.

Chapters 21 to 30

Charlotte accepts the invitation to marry Mr Collins, out of practicality. Elizabeth struggles to comprehend such a decision. At this point, Jane also becomes increasingly worried because she does not hear from Bingley. Jane then receives a letter from Miss Caroline Bingley making it clear marriage will not occur between Bingley and Jane.

The Gardiners, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle, pay a visit. They are concerned that Jane’s feelings were genuine for Bingley, and they invite her back to London for a reprieve. The Gardiners are unsure about Elizabeth’s potential match with Wickham.

Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr Collins, now married. While there, they receive an invitation to dine at Rosings, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s estate the next day. Mr Collins is excited that everyone will see his benefactor’s estate. Although the estate is beautiful, Lady Catherine is over-talkative and snobbish.

They learn that Mr Darcy is coming for a visit and Elizabeth is trying to find out whether he has come to see her or not, but she can’t tell.

Chapters 31 to 40

Lady Catherine hosts another dinner, during which Elizabeth plays the piano. While Darcy initially appears reserved, he soon engages in conversation with Elizabeth, indicating his growing admiration for her.

Later, during her stay at the parsonage, Elizabeth unexpectedly encounters Darcy while out walking. He visits her there and makes a sudden, passionate proposal of marriage. He speaks of his struggle against his feelings for her due to her family’s lower status and lack of wealth. Elizabeth is both surprised and offended by the manner of his proposal. As a result, she rejects him.

In a pivotal turning point, Elizabeth receives an important letter from Darcy, explaining how wrong he was; that he had also steered Bingley away from Jane, and explaining the dynamics with Wickham. This causes Elizabeth to challenge her prejudice, and she regrets how she has handled Darcy.

Chapters 41 to 50

The militia are leaving, and Elizabeth says goodbye to Wickham. At this point in the novel, Elizabeth also realises how bad her parents’ marriage is. Elizabeth pays a visit to Mrs Gardiner, and they both go to Mr Darcy’s estate (although Elizabeth only agrees when she hears that Darcy is out of town). When Darcy arrives back, Elizabeth realises she is starting to warm towards him.

Elizabeth learns her sister, Lydia, has run off with Wickham, bringing shame to the Bennet family. Eventually, Jane and Elizabeth manage to get their father to accept the marriage.

Chapters 51 to 60

Elizabeth resolves to stop thinking about Darcy but finds it difficult. Jane and Bingley are due to marry soon. Lady Catherine arrives trying to dissuade Elizabeth from Darcy, but in the end, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth and she gladly accepts. She has fallen in love! She is unsure about telling her parents, but Mrs Bennet reacts with silence first, and then delight.

Chapter 61

As an epilogue to the story, the last chapter reveals that Bingley and Jane and Darcy and Elizabeth have a joint wedding. The remaining Bennet sisters grow more mature over time. Charlotte has a baby. Lady Catherine and Miss Bingley stop criticising the Bennets, so there is a happy ending (except for Lydia and Wickham – who end up financially broken).

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