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This commentary was prepared by Karmayogi of The Mother’s Service Society (India). See karmayogi.net or MSS Research. The Comments column is intended for brief insightful remarks on the text. For longer comments or questions use the Talk page of this article or create a new article and add a link in the comments section of this page or under the appropriate heading on P&P project mainpage.



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Text
Comment

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

1
  • Man evaluates life only from his point of view.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
2
  • Presence of a tangible opportunity arouses the entire population.
  • The wish to grab another ignores the other’s view.
"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"
3
  • Women hear everything that happens and every event that has not happened.
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
4
"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."
5
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
6
"Do not you want to know who has taken it?" Cried his wife impatiently.
7
  • Initiatives belong to women.
  • The woman, who waits for the man to approach her, is energetic in taking initiative.
"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."
8
  • Responsibility lies with oneself even when the initiative is with others.
This was invitation enough.
9
  • An atmosphere of freedom unleashes Self-invitation.
"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."
10
  • Gossip belongs to the vital body.
"What is his name?"
11
  • There is only one body.
  • Everyone is susceptible to gossip.
  • ‘The only way to treat a woman is to be soft’ – British saying.
"Bingley."
12
"Is he married or single?"
13
"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!"
14
  • Fortune is Man.
  • Word of mouth is more powerful than an advertisement in The New York Times.
"How so? How can it affect them?"
18
"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."
20
  • Not fully sharing one’s enthusiasm is to be tiresome.
  • Man wishes others to think his own thoughts.
  • The process of thinking considers alternates, accepts one and rejects the other. Man rejects his own thought in others.
"Is that his design in settling here?"
22
"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."
23
  • Man disapproves of his thoughts in others.
  • Initiative interferes.
  • Expectation postpones.
  • Non-stop initiative is the trait of the physical.
"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 might like you the best of the party."
26
  • Man disapproving or disagreeing with his own thoughts in others is his effort at identification with others.
  • Caustic humour is humour at others’ expense, but it is really at one’s own expense. It is indelicate insensitivity.
"My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be any thing extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown-up daughters she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty."
28
  • Shameful facts can be flattering.

"In such cases a woman has not often much beauty to think of."

31
  • To make one speak of his defects is a talent.

"But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood."

32
  • Initiative is reinforced by insistence.

"It is more than I engage for, I assure you."

33
  • Man acts in spite of self-awareness.

"But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general, you know, they visit no new-comers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do not."

34
  • Canvassing for a thing beyond acceptance spoils the work.
  • Flattery never fails
  • A woman cannot cease to think of her beauty, regardless of age
  • Imitation is social instruction.
"You are over-scrupulous surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chuses of the girls: though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy."
38
  • Man is shrewd enough to see others’ motives.
  • Mr. Bennet sees that Mrs. Bennet values her own beauty in that of her daughters.
  • Parents are partial.
  • Man’s self-awareness of his defects makes him ridicule it but he reveals subconsciously to himself.
"I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference."
40
  • Rivalry rarely escapes protest.
  • The last born is the mother’s pet.
  • Attachment can see all that it wants.
  • Self-awareness helps achieve.
  • Liking is irrational.
"They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and ignorant, like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters."
43
  • Boisterousness is physicality’s good humour.
  • Vicarious abuse is the politeness of perversity.
  • Vicarious self-praise is the blind spot of better manners.
"Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way! You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves."
44
  • Poor nerves are superstitious.
  • She is right. He does what she wants most of the time but shows his disappointment with her by laughing at her. Elizabeth behaves similarly towards Darcy.
  • Weak defence moves one step down.
"You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least."
47
  • Managing incapacity is marriage.
  • Man congratulates himself on his patience.
"Ah! You do not know what I suffer."
51
  • One suffers for one’s lack of endowments.
"But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood."
53
  • Generalisation can be used to contradict a particular idea.
  • Sarcastic humour despoils the atmosphere of its potential generosity.
  • Sour Mr. Bennet does not know the meaning of the word generosity. Elizabeth knows that but since she is his favorite she forgives him just as she is going to forgive Wickham and Bingley. Her mother does not like her so she returned the favor.
"It will be no use to us if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them."
54
  • Women are downright practical-minded.
"Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all."
55
  • A wider agreement in theory negatives a single action.
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
56
  • Mrs. Bennet protests to the maximum but within limits. Ultimately she obeys her husband which was the culture of the collective at that time.
  • Knowledge that requires intelligence cannot be acquired by experience.
  • Nervousness is the discontentment of the less developed mind.
  • Human determination is fulfilled by the social atmosphere.
  • Even the subtle atmosphere can do it.
  • Compensation by an opposite value is a rule.

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