Synopsis Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist, a witty and outspoken woman, the
second of five daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Charles Bingley leases a
home, Netherfield Park, nearby. Mrs. Bennet busies herself to get
introductions for her daughters. Elizabeth's oldest sister Jane, kind and
trusting to a fault, falls in love with Bingley at the public ball. His even
wealthier friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, snubs Elizabeth and the other local
women at the ball, repelling them by his rudeness, superciliousness, and
haughtiness, and this becomes the subject of considerable discussion and
contempt. He starts to take an interest in Elizabeth, but she refuses to dance
Jane visits the Bingley's, walking in the rain, and catches a cold. Elizabeth
walks over to nurse her, impressing Darcy with her caring nature and
intelligence. There is discussion about what it means for a woman to be
educated, i.e., accomplished. Elizabeth is viewed disparagingly by Bingley's
sisters Mrs. Louisa Bingley Hurst and Miss Caroline Bingley, the latter hoping
to fix Bingley up instead with Darcy's sister Georgiana and to pair herself up
with Darcy. Elizabeth spars verbally with the Bingleys and Darcy about
country people, poetry, friendship, reading, pride, etc.
Mr. William Collins, Mr. Bennet's absurdly self-important cousin, newly-
ordained parish rector, and future heir to the Bennet's home through male
entailment, pays a visit to find a wife. He brags of his wealthy patron Lady
Catherine de Bourgh, who proves to be Darcy's aunt.
In town, they meet Mr. George Wickham, the son of Darcy's father's steward.
He impresses Elizabeth and tells a tale of being deprived of a living by Darcy
against Darcy's father's intentions [subsequently found to be a
misrepresentation]. Darcy is pained to see Wickham.
At the ball at Netherfield, Collins appears to be courting Elizabeth. Collins
dances badly, then has the audacity to introduce himself to Darcy, despite
Elizabeth's warning as to such impropriety. Eliz. and Darcy are cool to each
Collins proposes to marry Elizabeth, but she refuses-- he cannot believe her
no really means no, thinking this is the "usual practice of elegant females".
Her mother is upset but her father is relieved that E. has declined.
Bingley and his entourage suddenly move to London without a word to Jane.
Mr. Collins shortly proposes marriage to Elizabeth's friend and neighbor
Charlotte Lucas, who accepts-- the marriage takes place soon thereafter.
Jane is invited to visit Mrs. Bennet's brother, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Gardiner, in
London. There she is seemingly neglected by Bingley [who is kept unaware of
her presence by Caroline and Darcy].
Eliz. travels with the Lucases (Sir William and Lady) and their second
daughter Maria to visit first Eliz's sister in London and then on to the Collins at
Hunsford. They dine with Lady Catherine at her estate Rosings along with her
sickly daughter Miss [Anne?] de Bourgh [who is planned for Darcy by her
mother]. Eliz. balks at the intrusive questioning by the assertive and self-
important Lady Catherine. Darcy & his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam arrive for a
visit at Rosings. Eliz. continues to spar with Darcy and discusses her negative
thoughts about him with Fitzwilliam.
Darcy visits frequently at the parsonage and Charlotte wonders if he has
fallen in love with Elizabeth, but they still are cool to each other. Eliz. learns
from Fitzwilliam that Darcy caused Bingley to stop pursuing Jane.
Darcy appears and declares his love for Eizabeth, having struggled futilely
against his feelings of her inferiority & revulsion at her mother, sisters, and
general lack of superior connections. Eliz. spurns him, prejudiced against him
for blaming him for the breaking up Jane's relationship with Bingley, and
condemning his pride and haughtiness as well as his apparent injustice to
Wichkam. Later, Darcy sends Eliz. a letter explaining that he thought Jane
was indifferent to Bingley and explains that Wickham has been deceptive in
his claims, citing his attempt to elope with Darcy's 15 y/o sister for her money,
his life of dissipation and idleness, and his turning down a living within the
church, leading to a final monetary settlement with Darcy etc. Eliz. feels
humiliated and understands much better. Soon, they all depart Hunsford.
Mary is the somber and moralistic 3rd Bennet dtr. Eliz.'s fourth sister Kitty
(Catherine) and youngest sister Lydia are enamored with the militia quartered
nearby. The militia moves to Brighton and Lydia, though only 15, arranges to
travel with Colonel Forster and his wife Harriet, to be near the militia, despite
Elizabeth's unsuccessful effort to persuade her father to stop Lydia. Eliz. feels
much disappointment in her parents.
The Gardiners take Eliz. on a tour, originally intending to go to the Lake
country, but deciding instead to got no farther than Derbyshire-- there they
decide to visit Darcy's estate Pemberley near Lambton. She finds Darcy well
spoken of by his servants and is soon embarrassed to encounter him
unexpectedly-- he treats them all with great hospitality. He introduces her to
his shy sister Georgiana. Miss Bingley again does all she can to dissuade
Darcy from favoring Elizabeth.
Eliz. learns in a letter that the irresponsible Lydia has run off with Wickham.
She urgently returns home to Longbourne. After a long painful period of
uncertainty and general humiliation, the family learns from Mr. Gardiner that
they have been located and that Wickham has agreed to marry her for a small
monetary consideration. The wayward couple arrive for a cheerful visit,
oblivious to the pain they have caused the family. Eliz. learns that Darcy
attended their wedding and soon it becomes apparent that Darcy in fact found
the couple and has bribed Wickham to marry Lydia to prevent shame to the
family and preserve her respectability.
Bingley and Darcy arrive to visit the Bennets. Bingley warms back up to Jane
and eventually proposes marriage, bringing new joy to the household. Lady
Catherine arrives to demand that Eliz. renounce any intentions on Darcy,
insisting he is de facto engaged to her daughter, but she holds her ground
against this intimidation. Her father also receives a letter from Collins advising
against Eliz. marriage to Darcy. At last, Darcy and Eliz. express their mutual
love along with profuse apologies to eqach other for past misunderstandings.
He asks for her hand, and the opinion about Darcy in the Bennet household
improves remarkably. The kin are notified. Jane and Bingley marry and move
thirty miles away. The marriage of Wickham and Lydia begins to cool. Lady
Catherine and Miss Bingley reconcile with Elizabeth to some extent. She
becomes mistress of Pemberley and becomes good friends with Georgiana.