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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 08

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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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At five o'clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was summoned to dinner. To the civil enquiries which then poured in, and amongst which she had the pleasure of distinguishing the much superior solicitude of Mr. Bingley's, she could not make a very favourable answer. Jane was by no means better. The sisters, on hearing this, repeated three or four times how much they were grieved, how shocking it was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked being ill themselves; and then thought no more of the matter; and their indifference towards Jane when not immediately before them, restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her original dislike.

1
  • Bingley’s solicitude is superior because of his love for Jane.
  • The sisters are indifferent when not before her because it is out of politeness.
  • Elizabeth has an inward satisfaction of her own understanding.
  • It is this which attracts the sisters’ action against Jane.

Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard with any complacency. His anxiety for Jane was evident, and his attentions to herself most pleasing, and they prevented her feeling herself so much an intruder as she believed she was considered by the others. She had very little notice from any but him. Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr. Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr. Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards; who, when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her.

5
  • Love sees discomfort as death – death of Love.
  • Bingley’s attentions to Jane are taken as advances to her.
  • Politeness can be real or artificial, not love
  • Attention atones for shortcomings.
  • Jane was sweet as she was naïve.
  • Elizabeth carried too great a clarity to be liked by women.
  • To Caroline Darcy was an object of love.
  • To Louisa Darcy was a repository of status.
  • Man can totally lose himself in the contemplation of greatness or even money and be oblivious of his own existence.
  • Love attracts; desire to possess without love repels.
  • Indolence indulges gluttony.
  • Eating, drinking and playing at cards may still qualify one as an aristocrat.
  • A glutton appreciates another glutton.

When dinner was over she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no taste, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added --

9
  • Discussion of the absentee is universal.
  • Not to abuse a man in his absence, one should either love him or fear him.
  • Liking blinds; jealousy creatively reveals.
  • Inability to criticise is culture.
  • Culture comes not out of wealth, but by tradition.
  • Politeness in behaviour is not culture.
  • Independence is described as pride.
  • Non-submissiveness is taken to be impertinence.
  • To evaluate others by one’s standard is foolish.
  • To accuse others of not having the endowments they don’t have is naïve folly.
  • Dislike describes a personality empty of values.
  • Caroline is original, her sister toes her line.
  • Louisa never thinks, she only feels, taking the cue not from the spoken words of Caroline, but from the inner sensations felt.

"She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild."

12
  • Meanness describes a personality by his weakness.
  • The capacity for observation is fully developed in women especially when they study a rival.
  • Caroline is unable to contain her jealousy. Her jealousy is not even weighty.
  • Weakness finds it strength in conformity.

"She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!"

15

"Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it, not doing its office."

20

"Your picture may be very exact, Louisa," said Bingley; "but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice."

21
  • The observation of a man and a woman of the same object varies as much as the inner and outer, or rational or irrational.
  • Each person sees what he is interested in.

"You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure," said Miss Bingley; "and I am inclined to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition."

24
  • Caroline drags Darcy into the conversation while he is silent.
  • It always has the opposite result.

"Certainly not."

25

"To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ancles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum."

26
  • Urge of affection becomes conceited independence to Caroline.
  • How can walking constitute an abominable sort of conceited independence except for a woman steeped in jealousy.
  • It is not a gap between the country and town, but a gulf. Look at the irony of country gents admiring town living.

"It shews an affection for her sister that is very pleasing," said Bingley.

29
  • The more she tirades, the more the men praise Elizabeth.
  • Indeed, Bingley could have said little that would have increased Darcy's interest in Elizabeth. At first, Darcy assumed that she merely used Jane's illness as an excuse to join her in Netherfield. But Elizabeth's behavior soon disabused him of that notion. There was nothing more important to Darcy than Georgiana and anyone he would marry would have to care deeply about his sister whom he treats more like a child than a sibling.

"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy," observed Miss Bingley, in a half-whisper, "that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes."

30
  • Caroline’s dig at fine eyes makes them finer still.

"Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise." A short pause followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again --

31
  • Caroline adversely comments about Elizabeth several times to Darcy. Every time she miserably fails to enlist his sympathy.
  • The short pause is an awkward silence that emerges when culture has to handle indecorous behaviour.
  • The pause is caused by Caroline's discomfort with Darcy's retort. She realizes that Elizabeth's unconventional behavior merely increased Darcy's attraction to her. This is the first though not last such interchange betweeen the two.

"I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet; she is really a very sweet girl, and I wish with all my heart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother, and such low connections, I am afraid there is no chance of it."

33
  • The sisters have excessive regard for Jane. It is true.
  • Mrs. Hurst’s opinion is factual, not prejudiced.

"I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton."

35
  • Their low opinion of Mr. Bennet’s family reflects the truth. It was provoked on this occasion because of Darcy’s partiality for Elizabeth.

"Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside."

36

"That is capital," added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.

37

"If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would not make them one jot less agreeable."

38
  • While it is no objection to Bingley that her uncle is an attorney, it is a serious objection to Darcy.
  • Bingley’s vehemence shows his great attraction for Jane.

"But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world," replied Darcy.

39
  • There is no struggle in Bingley. Darcy grapples with a conflict.
  • Darcy too speaks the bare facts about Jane’s family without betraying his interest in Elizabeth.

To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent, and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend's vulgar relations.

40
  • Dear friends’ vulgar relations are a reality of the changing society.
  • Bingley’s silence is because of his anger.
  • His sisters truly loved Jane, but were disappointed by her status. They take it out on the other.

With a renewal of tenderness, however, they repaired to her room on leaving the dining-parlour, and sat with her till summoned to coffee. She was still very poorly, and Elizabeth would not quit her at all, till late in the evening, when she had the comfort of seeing her asleep, and when it appeared to her rather right than pleasant that she should go down stairs herself. On entering the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo, and was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high, she declined it, and making her sister the excuse, said she would amuse herself for the short time she could stay below, with a book. Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment.

41
  • Guilty conscience compensates.
  • Fever in those days could be fatal. Jane’s recovery could be attributed to Elizabeth’s and Bingley’s affection, her illness to her mother’s initiative.
  • They sat there till summoned which shows the genuine interest.
  • Social differences as cultural ones appear in various forms.
  • Jane’s illness is more out of the fear of embarrassment. Also the mother is in her.
  • Elizabeth’s formality is a reflection of Darcy’s attempted formality with her.
  • Already, we can say, it is a subconscious response to each other.
  • In the rich mixing with the poor, the difference emerges at all points as in the card game.
  • Excuses are transparent.
  • The offender cannot know the offence as the offended feels.

"Do you prefer reading to cards?" Said he; "that is rather singular."

45
  • Preference for reading is astonishing to Mr. Hurst.
  • Miss Bingley’s dig is at Eliza’s poverty.

"Miss Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, "despises cards. She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else."

46
  • Attitudes are transparent.

"I deserve neither such praise nor such censure," cried Elizabeth; "I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things."

48
  • Elizabeth never leaves herself undefended.
  • Caroline implies that Elizabeith considers herself superior to her hosts.
  • Even her resourcefulness is insufficient to compensate her low status.
  • It is a creative intelligence pleasantly expanding that can do it.

"In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure," said Bingley; "and I hope it will soon be increased by seeing her quite well."

49
  • Human relationship is one of exchange of energies. It is a mixture of positive and negative energies or higher and lower energies. Either way, there is an equilibrium.
  • One who shields from sarcasm is a dear friend of solicitude.
  • Bingley is all solicitude. Offers his services to her.
  • She interprests his words to mean that there is a valid reason for her to be in his house, and therefore she is not an unwanted guest.
  • Caroline is sarcastic; Bingley is supportive and tender.

Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards a table where a few books were lying. He immediately offered to fetch her others -- all that his library afforded.

50
  • Elizabeth was touched in her emotions
  • Man expands effusively in dealing with woman as she is his complement.
  • Bingley wants to bring more books to Elizabeth.

"And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into."

52
  • Bingley is self-deprecating.

Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.

53
  • For a lover every occasion is an occasion of extolling her lover.

"I am astonished," said Miss Bingley, "that my father should have left so small a collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!"

54

"It ought to be good," he replied; "it has been the work of many generations."

56
  • Darcy’s good speech is abrupt. Emotions suppressed make the speech abrupt.

"And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books."

57
  • Caroline’s thoughts are preoccupied by Darcy, Pemberly, and his attention.
  • And so are Elizabeth's who pays little attention to her book.
  • Here Darcy is rather humble by refusing to take credit for maintaining a first rate library.

"I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these."

58

"Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble place. Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as Pemberley."

59
  • Darcy is Bingley’s idol. Pemberly is his model. Weakness adoring strength adores everything about him.
  • Here Bingley shows a flash of wit.

"I wish it may."

62

"But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and take Pemberley for a kind of model. There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire."

63
  • Playing to the gallery is more with youngsters.
  • The entire conversation is such.

"With all my heart; I will buy Pemberley itself if Darcy will sell it."

65
  • If Bingley could buy Pemberley it should cost less than £100,000 which is Bingley’s inheritance.

"I am talking of possibilities, Charles."

66

"Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation." 08 playing cards at Netherfield Pride and Prejudice

67
  • It is true a place like Pemberley cannot be got up overnight

Elizabeth was so much caught by what passed as to leave her very little attention for her book; and soon laying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table, and stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and his eldest sister, to observe the game.

68
  • Caroline’s advances to Darcy are insistent, vulgar, repetitious, provoking, but she enjoys each time she speaks. The physical is oblivious, coarse and crude. For all these, her education is finest.
  • There was an upheaval of waves of admiration that Lizzy could not read.

"Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?" Said Miss Bingley; "will she be as tall as I am?"

69
  • Caroline wishes to know Georgiana’s height in comparison to her.
  • Caroline goes back to Darcy on some excuse
  • Darcy has Elizabeth in mind and compares it to her. These subconscious references cannot be overlooked.

"I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet's height, or rather taller."

70
  • Darcy relates all his thoughts to Elizabeth.
  • Caroline understands Darcy's growing infatuation and tries to remind him of his duty to his sister. Elizabeth is completely blind.

"How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much. Such a countenance, such manners! And so extremely accomplished for her age! Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite."

72
  • In praising Georgiana Caroline praises Darcy.

"It is amazing to me," said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are."

77
  • Lazy Bingley is amazed at the ladies’ exertion.
  • Accomplishment of ladies is an index of that society.

"All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?"

78
  • Bingley has Jane in mind.
  • It is worthwhile making an exhaustive list of various phenomena as the results indicate. It may widen our perspective.
    • a) As a rule every result can be traced to their very direct origin for the smallest touch of life.
    • b) Darcy’s interest in Lizzy.
    • c) Lydia’s wedding.
    • d) Charlotte’s role in the weddings of Jane and Elizabeth.
    • e) How Mary is left out in the cold.
    • f) Why Darcy pays Wickham.
    • g) Reasons for Wickham’s successful scandal.
    • h) The role of £5000 of Mrs. Bennet.
    • i) Collins’ wedding.
    • j) Mrs. Phillips’ gossip.
    • k) The role of Netherfield servants.
    • l) Gardiners visit to Lambton.
    • m) The role of Mrs. Reynolds.
  • Caroline’s prodding of Darcy, its pattern, its result and how she entirely reversed is a special study.
    • -- Her faith in her status, money, beauty, gave her energy to pursue Darcy.
    • -- The very fact Bingley has not evinced interest is an indication of a negative result for Caroline.
    • -- To value one’s own strength is the mental attitude.
    • -- Maybe the charm of abuse of Eliza overtook the charm for Darcy.
    • -- There is more than one favourable factor in the context that can mislead her.
    • -- That love, attachment, attraction, passion are powerful is perhaps not known to Caroline.
    • -- The marriage of Louisa is a warning to Darcy.
    • -- The lady ignores a biological rule.
    • -- Caroline wishes to accomplish by breaking Jane’s possibilities, while Charlotte unthinkingly helps Jane and Elizabeth.
    • -- Her genuine affection for Jane shows she is not bad at heart.
    • -- She could rally back on the strength of her money.
    • -- Her warning Eliza against Wickham helps her retain her relationship.
    • -- Her poking Eliza with the militia at Pemberley made the elopement possible.
    • -- Her equipment is on the surface. Pemberley needs content.
    • -- No married sister in England at that period lived with a brother as Louisa does. Caroline’s credibility is thus lost.
    • -- It is not known whether she did it to oblige Darcy more than pursue her own inclination.
    • -- Caroline is the leader in spite of being younger.
    • -- A man can overlook the boorishness of a parent while a lady cannot equally do so.
    • -- Mrs. Bennet’s energy is a threat to Caroline’s energyless life.

"Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished."

80
  • Darcy who intended to compliment Elizabeth speaks tactlessly offending her.
  • Elizabeth mistakes their comments and takes them adversely.
  • Darcy’s comment is intended to compliment Elizabeth.

"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished."

83

"Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley. "Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman."

87
  • Caroline’s description undermines Elizabeth.

"Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it."

89

"Oh! Certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved."

90
  • The list of accomplishments of young ladies is pitiable, showing the cultural outlook of the period.
  • Surely the list shows what a lady was meant for.
  • Caroline’s description is a commentary on Elizabeth.

"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

92
  • Darcy has in mind Elizabeth as the most accomplished woman.
  • Darcy feels Elizabeth to be very wise and learned which Elizabeth misses.
  • Darcy certainly intends to complimnet Elizabeth but such a possibility never occurs to her. When all said and done, Elizabeth is sure that a man who does not think her beautiful enough to tempt, could not be tempted by her other attributes. Hence, her blindness.

"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."

93
  • Elizabeth’s comment eliminates the sisters from the accomplishment.

"Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"

95
  • This strongly stings the sisters who violently defend themselves.

"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united."

96

Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied doubt, and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description, when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with bitter complaints of their inattention to what was going forward. As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth soon afterwards left the room.

98

"Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, "is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art."

100
  • Any comment can be perversely turned against the speaker.
  • Caroline is thoroughly prejudiced against Lizzy and is mean to her.

"Undoubtedly," replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, "there is meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable."

102
  • Darcy’s comment touches Caroline of which he was oblivious. He was anxious to hide his interest in Elizabeth.
  • Actually he wanted to silence Caroline.
  • It is a subtle warfare each having a dig at the other.

Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the subject.

104
  • Darcy’s reply to Caroline chastises Caroline, not Eliza.
  • A mean atmosphere in the room directly worsens Jane’s health.
  • Bingley’s sisters are genuinely interested in Jane but also want to put up behaviour.
  • Elizabeth knows her limits.
  • Bingley, being truly in love, is quite uncomfortable.

Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she could not leave her. Bingley urged Mr. Jones's being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced that no country advice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for one of the most eminent physicians. This she would not hear of; but she was not so unwilling to comply with their brother's proposal; and it was settled that Mr. Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if Miss Bennet were not decidedly better. Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper, while he could find no better relief to his feelings than by giving his housekeeper directions that every possible attention might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.

105
  • The disharmony at the card table is reflected by Jane’s health. 8.105
  • Fever is the emotional temperature of the audience.
  • Duets cannot solace sorrow about ill health, especially joyful ones.

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