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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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Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs-male, on a distant relation; and their mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply the deficiency of his. Her father had been an attorney in Meryton, and had left her four thousand pounds.

1
  • All female children show the physical domination of Mrs. Bennet
  • For an attorney to have saved £5000 to a daughter which comes to £15,000 in savings, her father seemed to have been very successful.
  • Her insistence and extravagance are thus explained.
  • The younger girls being out without Jane’s marriage while Sir Lucas’ girls are not out, shows Mrs. Bennet unconventional and assertive.

She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk to their father, and succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable line of trade.

3

The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters', and when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.

4
  • Imagination filled with possibility is excitement that is endless.
  • Incessant talk is ever present excitation to the nerves.
  • Walking that is physical, fills the empty physical mind.
  • There seems to be no cultural inhibition to chase the officers.

Their visits to Mrs. Philips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence. Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers' names and connections. Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers themselves. Mr. Philips visited them all, and this opened to his nieces a source of felicity unknown before. They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley's large fortune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.

7
  • Physicality expands by the thought of fortune.
  • Small reality possessed is more real than a great possibility that is distant.

After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet coolly observed --

12
  • Mr. Bennet who cannot abuse Mrs. Bennet abuses his daughters.

"From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced."

13
  • Mr. Bennet abuses their daughters which is the only discipline to which he subjects them.

Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope of seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London.

15
  • Mr. Bennet is not part of Lydia’s scheme.
  • Total physicality is totally indifferent to values, even abuse.
  • Catherine is capable of disconcerted response.

"I am astonished, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "that you should be so ready to think your own children silly. If I wished to think slightingly of anybody's children, it should not be of my own, however."

16
  • Mrs. Bennet was not sorry, but astonished.
  • She is entirely oblivious of the situation he speaks against.
  • While Mr. Bennet regrets the emptiness of his children, Mrs. Bennet is fond of that very emptiness.
  • Physicality is oblivious of mental defects.
  • Insensible Mrs. Bennet causes problems. Sensible husband is helpless.
  • What is silly to him is cleverness to her.
  • It was a superstition of that century that the husband and wife should have same sentiment.
  • Mrs. Bennet could not comprehend Mr. Bennet’s sallies.
  • Mrs. Bennet justifies her daughters’ infatuation of the officers.
  • Mrs. Bennet is shameless to refer to her silly youth.
  • Mrs. Bennet declared that she is the standard to all, unable to see how low she is. Man’s opinion of himself is always the highest.
  • Obstacles in marriage are always what one seeks to rise socially through wedding.
  • Age is aware of the shortcoming of youth. To be proud of it and set it as a standard is the capacity to slide back.
  • Mrs. Bennet at £2000 a year aims at ₤5000 for her children which are the characteristics of seeking alliance.
  • Subconsciously she expects young men as foolish as Mr. Bennet at the time of his wedding.

"If my children are silly, I must hope to be always sensible of it."

18
  • He could not bring himself to describe her silly

"Yes -- but as it happens, they are all of them very clever."

19
  • Good health is cleverness to Mrs. Bennet.

"This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree. I had hoped that our sentiments coincided in every particular, but I must so far differ from you as to think our two youngest daughters uncommonly foolish."

20

"My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their father and mother. When they get to our age I dare say they will not think about officers any more than we do. I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well -- and, indeed, so I do still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year, should want one of my girls, I shall not say nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir William's in his regimentals." 07 mrsb Pride and Prejudice

22
  • The husband and wife are poles apart in physical realities.
  • Mrs. Bennet finds nothing wanting in her own personality.
  • Lydia is, literally, in her own world.

"Mama," cried Lydia, "my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not go so often to Miss Watson's as they did when they first came; she sees them now very often standing in Clarke's library."

25
  • The heights of her illusion are simultaneously illustrated by the emptiness of Lydia’s prattle.

Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer. Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while her daughter read --

26
  • There is a significance for the note coming at this point.
  • The footman was a Life Response. Life is more than characteristic in reflecting what is inside. Mrs. Bennet was prevented from replying. Caroline’s letter that was the cause of exposure of the family PRESENTS itself.
  • Man’s tension comes from mistaking insubstantial ambition as legitimate aspiration.

"Well, Jane, who is it from? What is it about? What does he say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us; make haste, my love."

28
  • Ambitious energetic people are excessively alert, assume the whole world should be in concert work for their own progress.
  • Those were days when boys did not write to girls, but the mother expects it. She was one who was anxious to capitalize on vulgarity.

"It is from Miss Bingley," said Jane, and then read it aloud.

32
  • Caroline’s education exhibits a maturity for her age.
  • The letter was couched in the best of social idiom of humour.
  • It was not Jane’s beauty, but her open sweet nature that strikes.
  • Ladies find the company of ladies preferable to that of men.

"My dear Friend, -- If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa and me, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day's tête-à-tête between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on the receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the officers. -- Yours ever, "CAROLINE BINGLEY."

33
  • Sweet passivity is magnetically attractive.
  • Pure friendship is passionate, cannot wait to meet.

"With the officers!" Cried Lydia. "I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that."

36

"Dining out," said Mrs. Bennet; "that is very unlucky."

38
  • When luck comes, Man tries to add further dimensions to it

"Can I have the carriage?" Said Jane.

39

"No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night."

40
  • Petty planning surely spoils.
  • Even energy that is to fail ultimately initially succeeds.
  • Mrs. Bennet spoils Jane’s chances, but rain and fever oblige her.
  • Mrs. Bennet’s scheme cancels the entire prospect.
  • Mrs. Bennet is one who can hardly wait for the results. Note it prolongs the duration of maturity.

"That would be a good scheme," said Elizabeth, "if you were sure that they would not offer to send her home."

41
  • Elizabeth’s shrewdness sees through the holes of her mother’s plot.

"Oh! But the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley's chaise to go to Meryton; and the Hursts have no horses to theirs."

42
  • The conflict in the psychological make up of the parents is seen again in that of Jane and her mother. The story deals with their progress.
  • Mrs. Bennet was in her young days successful with Mr. Bennet with her tricks or ploys.
  • Such ploys never succeed more than once. Their initial success is by their energy.

"I had much rather go in the coach."

43

"But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure. They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennett, are not they?"

44
  • Mrs. Bennet is capable of transparent tricks.
  • An energetic dynamic person exhausts all her opportunities.
  • Mrs. Bennet draws on all the areas of her power.
  • Small people cannot succeed in vast projects as they exhaust all their energies in small tricks leaving the vast strategies devoid of energy.

"They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them."

46

"But if you have got them to-day," said Elizabeth, "my mother's purpose will be answered."

47
  • Elizabeth, who violently differs from her mother, never protests sufficiently.

She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were engaged: Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered: Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission: Jane certainly could not come back.

48
  • Pride and Prejudice is the story of uncouth, uncultured, bumptious Mrs. Bennet reaching her fulfilment bulldozing her way through life.
  • Darcy’s ambitious passion, Eliza’s energetic rationality, Jane’s passive patience, Mr. Bennet’s unexpressed sense of deep responsibility, Lydia’s vulgarity, Wickham’s strategic lies all draw their energy from what Mrs. Bennet is in her inner constitution which finds vehement expressions outside.
  • Efficiency is to exhaust one’s energy
  • Energy is supplied by understanding. Mrs. Bennet extorted from her father a promise.
  • Mr. Bennet appears to oblige his wife. If so, he was a party to the ploy and to its fiasco.
  • Her hopes were answered. It rained.
  • The subconscious decision can compel the external atmosphere.

"This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!" Said Mrs. Bennet more than once, as if the credit of making it rain were all her own. Till the next morning, however, she was not aware of all the felicity of her contrivance. Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant from Netherfield brought the following note for Elizabeth --

52
  • Mrs. Bennet fully enjoys the idea of the rain.
  • Her enjoyment consumes all the energy leaving none for results.
  • It rains as Life Response. Intensity, right and wrong, evokes response.
  • An intense idea brought rain, but it cannot win Bingley.

"My dearest Lizzy, -- I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my returning home till I am better. They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones -- therefore do not be alarmed if you should hear of his having been to me -- and, excepting a sore throat and headache, there is not much the matter with me. -- Yours, etc."

55
  • Bingley’s sisters do like Jane more than as a friend.
  • Had it not been for Elizabeth’s love of Darcy, the sisters might have approved of Jane’s marriage with Bingley.

"Well, my dear," said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, "if your daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness -- if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders."

58
  • Mr. Bennet is more interested in picking holes in his wife’s schemes than in the work on hand.
  • It is natural for the pent up grievance of twenty-five years to find an outlet.
  • Mr. Bennet’s unsavoury sarcasm is a negative vibration.

"Oh! I am not at all afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds. She will be taken good care of. As long as she stays there, it is all very well. I would go and see her if I could have the carriage."

59
  • His vulgarity of a joke is equalled by the vulgarity of her intrigues.
  • Mrs. Bennet takes most of his cutting remarks as facts.
  • Mr. Bennet who refused the carriage to Jane gives it to his wife. His support is ruinous.

Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the carriage was not to be had; and as she was no horsewoman, walking was her only alternative. She declared her resolution.

64
  • It is Darcy’s passion that brings Elizabeth to Netherfield, not the illness of Jane.
  • Eliza is unconsciously responding to Darcy’s subconscious desire.
  • Jane on horse back was a ploy. A wider scheme draws Elizabeth there.

"How can you be so silly," cried her mother, "as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt! You will not be fit to be seen when you get there."

66
  • Eliza’s interest in Jane is total but her response exceeds it.

"I shall be very fit to see Jane -- which is all I want."

68

"Is this a hint to me, Lizzy," said her father, "to send for the horses?"

69
  • Mr. Bennet is unwilling to send the horses even to Lizzy.
  • Mr. Bennet meanly suspects his daughter.
  • He could not take her advice later as he has that suspicious nature.

"No, indeed. I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing when one has a motive; only three miles. I shall be back by dinner."

70
  • Lizzy is unwilling to take the horses from her father as an obligation.

"I admire the activity of your benevolence," observed Mary, "but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required."

74
  • Mary’s comment is more in reference to her own thoughts.

"We will go as far as Meryton with you," said Catherine and Lydia. Elizabeth accepted their company, and the three young ladies set off together.

75
  • The elders and youngsters are in two different worlds.

"If we make haste," said Lydia, as they walked along, "perhaps we may see something of Captain Carter before he goes."

77
  • Lydia and Kitty are shameless. Her family permits her.

In Meryton they parted; the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the officers' wives, and Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise.

78
  • Elizabeth’s urge has a resemblance of Darcy’s urge.
  • Elizabeth is utterly unconscious of her appearance. Her mind was full of Jane.
  • For a girl to forget her appearance is to be far more mental than vital.

She was shewn into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and where her appearance created a great deal of surprise. That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was convinced that they held her in contempt for it. She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their brother's manners there was something better than politeness; there was good-humour and kindness. Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion's justifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.

79
  • To Bingley’s sisters appearance is all.
  • Caroline and Elizabeth are London and Longbourn.
  • They evaluate her by her looks – contemptuously.
  • Interest expresses as good humour and kindness.
  • Darcy not only not felt contempt but saw brilliancy. Love makes her brilliant.
  • Did Darcy conjecture that Elizabeth came to see him?
  • Lovers see anything in terms of Love.

Her enquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered. Miss Bennet had slept ill, and though up, was very feverish, and not well enough to leave her room. Elizabeth was glad to be taken to her immediately; and Jane, who had only been withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience from expressing in her note how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance. She was not equal, however, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left them together, could attempt little beside expressions of gratitude for the extraordinary kindness she was treated with. Elizabeth silently attended her.

85
  • Elizabeth went there as she knew timid Jane needed support.
  • Jane was relieved on seeing Elizabeth.
  • Disease makes one long for company.
  • Disease is disintegrating consciousness, company restores it.
  • Affection of the sisters for Jane was real.

When breakfast was over they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like them herself, when she saw how much affection and solicitude they shewed for Jane. The apothecary came, and having examined his patient, said, as might be supposed, that she had caught a violent cold, and that they must endeavour to get the better of it; advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts. The advice was followed readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head ached acutely. Elizabeth did not quit her room for a moment, nor were the other ladies often absent: the gentlemen being out, they had, in fact, nothing to do elsewhere.

90
  • Their extraordinary kindness was uppermost in Jane’s mind. One remembers the attention of the Superiors.
  • The sisters’ affection for Jane is true and impresses even Elizabeth. It could have led to Jane’s wedding, but for Mrs. Bennet’s insistence that cancelled it.
  • Jane’s fear and anxiety raised her fever.
  • Too much good for too small a brain can give ache.
  • Bingley’s sisters spend enough time with Jane.

When the clock struck three Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly said so. Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was obliged to convert the offer of the chaise into an invitation to remain at Netherfield for the present. Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to Longbourn to acquaint the family with her stay and bring back a supply of clothes.

94
  • The sisters’ invitation to Eliza to stay is half-real. Instinctively they liked Jane. Instinctively they disliked Lizzy. It may be due to Lizzy’s attitude or penetrating perception.

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