Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

Chapters 1-20

Chapter 1: Mrs. Bennet announces to her husband that Netherfield Park, a large Hertfordshire estate, has been let to a Mr. Bingley, "a young man of fortune from the north of England", who she hopes may marry one of their five daughters. She attempts to persuade him to visit the newcomer and is frustrated when he says that he has no intention of doing so.

Chapter 2: Mr. Bennet continues to let his family think that he will not visit Mr. Bingley, when in fact he has already done so. They are all delighted when he reveals the truth.

Chapter 3: Mr. Bingley, after having returned Mr. Bennet's visit and made a short trip to London, makes his first appearance at a local ball. With him are his sisters Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy who are all staying with him at Netherfield. Darcy is admired at first for his good looks and large fortune, but soon offends everyone by his disdainful, proud manner. He is particularly rude to Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the Bennet sisters, by refusing to dance with her, saying she is not "handsome" enough. Mr. Bingley, by contrast, is universally liked, and distinguishes Jane Bennet, the eldest and most beautiful of the sisters, by dancing with her twice.

Chapter 4: Jane confesses to Elizabeth how much she likes Mr. Bingley and in replying Elizabeth comments on her sister's ability to see the good in everyone; she herself is more given to cynicism. Austen then gives us more details about the Bingleys: the sisters are "proud and conceited"; Mr. Bingley is expected to purchase property soon, and is renting Netherfield as a temporary measure. Mr. Darcy is cleverer than Bingley, but "haughty, reserved and fastidious".

Chapter 5: Charlotte Lucas, the eldest daughter of some of the Bennets' neighbours and Elizabeth's friend, comes to Longbourn, the village where the Bennets live, to talk over the ball. Bingley's apparent admiration of Jane and Darcy's pride is the main topic of conversation.

Chapter 6: The acquaintance between the Bingleys and the Bennets is advanced by two further visits. Elizabeth remarks to Charlotte that although Jane is attracted to Bingley, she will keep this well hidden by her unwavering "composure of temper". Charlotte replies that Jane would do better to encourage Bingley if she hopes to make him ask her to marry him. Charlotte is much more concerned than Elizabeth with the importance of marrying well, feeling that falling in love is secondary to being comfortably settled. At a party at the Lucas's Darcy begins to notice Elizabeth and even asks her to dance, which she declines.

Chapter 7: We learn that because Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have no sons the Longbourn estate will be inherited by a "distant relation". The younger daughters, Kitty and Lydia, have been introduced to some officers of a regiment encamped at Meryton, a nearby town, by their aunt and uncle Philips, and can think of nothing else. Jane is invited to Netherfield and Mrs. Bennet insists on her going on horseback in the hope that she will catch cold from riding in bad weather and be forced to stay longer. The next day news arrives that Jane is indeed ill and Elizabeth decides to walk to Netherfield to visit her. She is invited to stay in order to be near her sister while she is unwell.

Chapter 8: Elizabeth spends the evening with Bingley, his two sisters and Darcy. Darcy continues to her admire her, which provokes the jealousy of Miss Bingley, who, it becomes clear, is hoping to marry Darcy herself. While she is with her sister, Miss Bingley takes the opportunity of disparaging Elizabeth and her "vulgar" relations. By the end of the evening Jane is no better, and it is agreed that a doctor will be called in the morning.

Chapter 9: Jane is slightly better on the following morning, but nevertheless Elizabeth wants her mother's opinion. Mrs. Bennet arrives with Kitty and Lydia; she embarrasses Elizabeth with her tactless remarks, and Lydia reminds Bingley of his promise to give a ball at Netherfield, which he confirms he will do as soon as Jane is better.

Chapter 10: As Jane continues to recover Elizabeth spends another evening and day with Bingley and his guests. Miss Bingley distracts Darcy from writing to his sister with compliments on his handwriting and later teases him about Elizabeth. Darcy himself becomes more and more attracted to Elizabeth.

Chapter 12: Jane and Elizabeth return home in Bingley's carriage; Darcy is glad to see Elizabeth go, fearing that she has realised that he likes her.

Chapter 13: Mr. Bennet reads a letter from his cousin, Mr. Collins, who will inherit the Longbourn estate and who is expected there that day. He introduces himself as a clergyman who has recently acquired the patronage of a Lady Catherine de Burgh. Since the death of his father, who had fallen out with Mr. Bennet, he hopes that the two families can be reunited. He writes pompously and condescendingly. On his arrival Mr. Collins hints that he intends to choose a wife from among the Bennet sisters.

Chapter 14: After dinner, Mr. Bennet draws out his guest on the subject of his patroness. He praises her extravagantly, adding that she has a daughter whose ill-health has prevented her socialising much.

Chapter 15: Mr. Collins hints to Mrs. Bennet that he hopes to choose Jane as his wife; she tells him that she is likely to become engaged soon; he promptly transfers his choice to Elizabeth. The girls (with Mr. Collins) walk to Meryton where they meet some of the officers and are introduced to another, Mr. Wickham, whom they all like immediately. Bingley and Darcy arrive, but react dramatically when they see Mr. Wickham and withdraw at once. The Longbourn party moves on to visit the girls' aunt Philips, who invites them all to a party the next evening.

Chapter 16: At the Philips's Elizabeth and Wickham fall into conversation. He explains to her why he and Darcy met so awkwardly the day before: his father was Darcy's father's steward and he himself grew up at Pemberly, Darcy's estate. Darcy's father had promised to set him up as a clergyman, but he died before this could happen, and Darcy refused to honour his father's promise. Wickham claims that this was out of dislike and jealousy; Elizabeth sympathises with him that his status in life has been so drastically reduced. Wickham also tells Elizabeth that Lady Catherine de Burgh is Darcy's aunt and that he is expected to marry her daughter. He also gives a report of Darcy's much younger sister as equal to her brother in pride.

Chapter 17: Elizabeth repeats to Jane what Wickham has told her. Bingley arrives to invite them all to the promised ball at Netherfield; Mr. Collins immediately asks Elizabeth to dance the first two dances with him, from which she begins to suspect that he may propose to her.

Chapter 18: At the ball Elizabeth is disappointed to find that Wickham is not there and hears that he has stayed away in order to avoid Darcy. This increases her dislike of him and determination not to be pleasant to him. Darcy, however, asks her to dance. They struggle for conversation and Elizabeth finds refuge in barbed banter. Miss Bingley approaches Elizabeth to contradict Wickham's report of Darcy's cruelty to which Elizabeth replies disdainfully. Mr. Collins introduces himself to Darcy because of the de Burgh connection, which embarrasses Elizabeth. Her family then humiliate her futher: Mrs. Bennet talks openly about her conviction that Jane and Bingley will soon be married and Mary, the studious sister, shows off at the piano. The Longbourn party is the last to leave. Mrs. Bennet returns home, complacent in the thought of soon having two daughters married.

Chapter 19: Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth; he will not accept her refusal, convinced that she is merely following fashion by showing reluctance and confident that he will succeed in the end.

Chapter 20: Mrs. Bennet is furious when she hears that Elizabeth has turned Mr. Collins down and appeals to Mr. Bennet to use his influence on her. He supports her refusal, leaving his wife to attempt to persuade Elizabeth to accept him. When it becomes clear that she is adamant, Mr.Collins withdraws his proposal.