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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 09

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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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Comment

Elizabeth passed the chief of the night in her sister's room, and in the morning had the pleasure of being able to send a tolerable answer to the enquiries which she very early received from Mr. Bingley by a housemaid, and some time afterwards from the two elegant ladies who waited on his sisters. In spite of his amendment, however, she requested to have a note sent to Longbourn, desiring her mother to visit Jane, and form her own judgment of her situation. The note was immediately dispatched, and its contents as quickly complied with. Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by her two youngest girls, reached Netherfield soon after the family breakfast.

1
  • Jane subconsciously is the mother in the rich sense of the world.
  • Her illness is her desire to stay at Netherfield
  • The adult authority prevails. Experience is with age.
  • Fever in those days could be fatal. So, she sends for her mother whose visit was fatal to Jane’s chances.
  • Mrs. Bennet is the most active character in the story, though her character is vulgar.
  • Mrs. Bennet was so anxious to bring her daughters there, not knowing the result.

Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable; but being satisfied on seeing her that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield. She would not listen, therefore, to her daughter's proposal of being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think it at all advisable. After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley's appearance and invitation, the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast-parlour. Bingley met them with hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than she expected.

5
  • Mrs. Bennet is crude in her motives of action.
  • Jane was sensitive. Mrs. Bennet was anything but sensitive
  • Bingley is candid. Mrs. Bennet is full of intrigues

"Indeed I have, sir," was her answer. "She is a great deal too ill to be moved. Mr. Jones says we must not think of moving her. We must trespass a little longer on your kindness."

9
  • Bingley does not see through Mrs. Bennet
  • We do not see in the general behaviour of Mrs. Bennet any concern for Jane’s health.
  • Mrs. Bennet’s reply to Bingley is not only artless and tactless but was boorishly imposing.

"Removed!" Cried Bingley. "It must not be thought of. My sister, I am sure, will not hear of her removal."

13
  • Bingley responds as a lover rather than a host

"You may depend upon it, madam," said Miss Bingley, with cold civility, "that Miss Bennet shall receive every possible attention while she remains with us."

16
  • Profusion of acknowledgement is out of cultural shallowness

Mrs. Bennet was profuse in her acknowledgments.

17

"I am sure," she added, "if it was not for such good friends, I do not know what would become of her, for she is very ill indeed, and suffers a vast deal, though with the greatest patience in the world, which is always the way with her, for she has, without exception, the sweetest temper I ever met with. I often tell my other girls they are nothing to her. You have a sweet room here, Mr. Bingley, and a charming prospect over that gravel walk. I do not know a place in the country that is equal to Netherfield. You will not think of quitting it in a hurry, I hope, though you have but a short lease."

18
  • Mrs. Bennet thinks aloud totally inadvertently

"Whatever I do is done in a hurry," replied he; "and therefore if I should resolve to quit Netherfield, I should probably be off in five minutes. At present, however, I consider myself as quite fixed here."

23
  • Bingley is unthinking more than thoughtless.
  • Bingley’s, ‘I should be off in five minutes’ comes true

"That is exactly what I should have supposed of you," said Elizabeth.

25
  • Elizabeth could not refrain from making a somewhat inadvertent comment

"You begin to comprehend me, do you?" Cried he, turning towards her.

26
  • Bingley was sorry he was seen through. That is one reason for his quitting Netherfield

"Oh! Yes -- I understand you perfectly."

27

"I wish I might take this for a compliment; but to be so easily seen through, I am afraid, is pitiful."

28

"That is as it happens. It does not necessarily follow that a deep, intricate character is more or less estimable than such a one as yours."

29
  • Mrs. Bennet was to restrain Lizzy.
  • Mrs. Bennet who was oblivious of where she was, reminds her daughter of it
  • Pure exhibitionism

"Lizzy," cried her mother, "remember where you are, and do not run on in the wild manner that you are suffered to do at home."

31
  • Mrs. Bennet puts down Lizzy for no fault of hers.

"I did not know before," continued Bingley immediately, "that you were a studier of character. It must be an amusing study."

32

"Yes; but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage."

34
  • It is not good manners to study the character of your host

"The country," said Darcy, "can in general supply but few subjects for such a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society."

36
  • Darcy’s comment shows a desire to join the conversation with Elizabeth.
  • Darcy makes an unsavoury, almost offensive statement unintentionally.
  • Darcy's comment is perfectly appropriate. He wants to attract Elizabeth's attention to himself and away from Bingley. He does it repeatedly. He is also implying that she could use a wider canvass. He makes similar remarks in Hunsford.
  • Conversation brings out the speaker’s character, not so much the subject. Darcy’s comment on the country. It is his stiffness that is responded to, not what he said.

"But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever."

38
  • Life gives Elizabeth occasion to study intricate characters

"Yes, indeed," cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country neighbourhood. "I assure you there is quite as much of that going on in the country as in town."

39
  • Mrs. Bennet is offensive, a subconscious awareness of Darcy’s mind.
  • Mrs. Bennet is wantonly rude to Darcy. It is an attempt at touching him irretrievably.
  • This is exactly the same thing he heard from Elizabeth at Hunsford.

Everybody was surprised, and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned silently away. Mrs. Bennet, who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him, continued her triumph.

41
  • Mrs. Bennet had no manners to leave it at his silence. She expands on her theme self-righteously.
  • Like Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet has not forgiven Darcy his rude dismissal of Elizabeth. She is merely less subtle in her efforts to punish him. Elizabeth is brighter but she and her mother behave alike. Let's not forget that it was her mother who told Elizabeth never to dance with Darcy. That is the real though unconscious reason Elizabeth is so ashamed of her.
  • Mrs. Bennet is triumphant, the earliest indication of Darcy marrying Elizabeth.

"I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country, for my part, except the shops and public places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is not it, Mr. Bingley?"

43
  • Mrs. Bennet directly abuses Darcy. People have a subtle sense to abuse in advance future benefactors

"When I am in the country," he replied, "I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town, it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either."

45
  • Bingley’s response to Mrs. Bennet is a masterful evasion.
  • Elizabeth’s attempt to compromise infuriates her mother. It is a rule a younger person at such jobs invites the opposite results

09 mrsb embarasses Pride and Prejudice

"Ay -- that is because you have the right disposition. But that gentleman," looking at Darcy, "seemed to think the country was nothing at all."

47
  • Next Mrs. Bennet openly abuses Darcy.

"Indeed, Mama, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. "You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there were not such a variety of people to be met with in the country as in town, which you must acknowledge to be true."

49
  • The more the daughter pleads, the more the mother is rough.

"Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four and twenty families."

52

Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His sister was less delicate, and directed her eye towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive smile. Elizabeth, for the sake of saying something that might turn her mother's thoughts, now asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been at Longbourn since her coming away.

54
  • To keep countenance one should be a perfect gentleman.
  • His sisters were less delicate, as they had a vested interest
  • One rule is he who takes unfair advantage will be at a great disadvantage at the end
  • It requires established culture inherited NOT to take advantage of others
  • When somebody has an idea how to delight, life completes it.
  • In a particular atmosphere, it will prevail. Any strategy will ultimately serve the aim of the atmosphere.
  • Elizabeth’s attempt to mollify Darcy was used directly to insult him more
  • Each man is proud of what he has. He thinks the world is anxious to know all about him. He readily spreads his wares before anyone for this purpose. It never occurs to low people that their wares are objects of shame. To feel shame is a measure of progress.
  • Bingley directly confirms his love for Jane in trying NOT to be offended by her display. Darcy does the same thing unobserved. Mrs. Bennet senses their attitude and like Oliver Twist asks for more.

"Yes, she called yesterday with her father. What an agreeable man Sir William is, Mr. Bingley -- is not he? So much the man of fashion! So genteel and so easy! -- He has always something to say to everybody. -- That is my idea of good breeding; and those persons who fancy themselves very important, and never open their mouths, quite mistake the matter."

57
  • The weak beneficiary will be on the warpath

"Did Charlotte dine with you?"

63
  • Efforts in an adverse atmosphere will yield adverse results

"No, she would go home. I fancy she was wanted about the mince-pies. For my part, Mr. Bingley, I always keep servants that can do their own work; my daughters are brought up differently. But everybody is to judge for themselves, and the Lucases are very good sort of girls, I assure you. It is a pity they are not handsome! Not that I think Charlotte so very plain -- but then she is our particular friend."

64
  • Mrs. Bennet insistently calling Charlotte plain on every possible occasion enabled Longbourn to go to her.
  • Even when one intensely tries to spoil a thing, the very intensity can, because of the atmosphere, make it a success.
  • It is mean to claim superiority especially at the expense of others

"She seems a very pleasant young woman," said Bingley.

70
  • A gentleman always looks at the better side

"Oh! Dear, yes; -- but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied me Jane's beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane -- one does not often see anybody better looking. It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner's in town so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were."

71
  • Physical characters are oblivious. They overdo their defects

"And so ended his affection," said Elizabeth impatiently. "There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!"

80
  • It is true a poem can drive away love, as only that much emotion was there. Elizabeth is profound.
  • Elizabeth is an irresistible character

"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.

83
  • Darcy, in spite of the offensive conversational occasion, is unable to let the occasion go without defence of poetry as an efficacious vehicle of love as he is inspired by it.
  • Darcy’s passionate utterance about poetry is lost sight of
  • This is an example of Elizabeth's quickness. She finds a way to justify a silly statement she made in desperation. Darcy enjoys the performance.

"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away."

84

Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother should be exposing herself again. She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say; and after a short silence Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr. Bingley for his kindness to Jane, with an apology for troubling him also with Lizzy. Mr. Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer, and forced his younger sister to be civil also, and say what the occasion required. She performed her part indeed without much graciousness, but Mrs. Bennet was satisfied, and soon afterwards ordered her carriage. Upon this signal, the youngest of her daughters put herself forward. The two girls had been whispering to each other during the whole visit, and the result of it was, that the youngest should tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield.

87
  • Elizabeth has exactly the same characteristic of her mother. Darcy’s passions as well as his deep appreciation of her comments were lost on her. She was preoccupied by her mother, he with her.
  • Examine what happened when Elizabeth trembled lest her mother expose herself. Lydia took over from her mother.
  • Repetition is a character of physicality.
  • To be civil in uncivilised circumstances requires consummate skill
  • Mr. Bingley’s forcing his younger sister to be civil is a direct response to the sensitivity of Elizabeth. Each person’s sensitivity decides every other person’s response. Every conversation in the book examined from this point of view helps. You can look for several responses:
    • a. As the person expects, others respond.
    • b. They respond in the opposite way.
    • c. The response is determined by the temperament of the first person.
    • d. It is determined by the temperament of the one who replies.
    • e. It is an equilibrium of both their temperaments.
    • f. It is a wider equilibrium of all temperaments.
    • g. The response can be related to the end or beginning or any major or minor event.
    • h. It is worth examining psychologically.
    • i. It lends itself to all or any examination.
    • j. Look at it from YOUR point of view.

Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age. She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the attentions of the officers, to whom her uncle's good dinners and her own easy manners recommended her, had increased into assurance. She was very equal, therefore, to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and abruptly reminded him of his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful thing in the world if he did not keep it. His answer to this sudden attack was delightful to their mother's ear --

93
  • The last child is always the mother’s favourite
  • Animal spirits demand favours by accusation
  • To reward an offence is gentlemanliness
  • The privilege of youth is what age cannot indulge in.

"I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and when your sister is recovered, you shall, if you please, name the very day of the ball. But you would not wish to be dancing while she is ill."

97
  • Lydia is oblivious of her shameless ploys

Lydia declared herself satisfied. "Oh! Yes -- it would be much better to wait till Jane was well, and by that time most likely Captain Carter would be at Meryton again. And when you have given your ball," she added, "I shall insist on their giving one also. I shall tell Colonel Forster it will be quite a shame if he does not."

99
  • Lydia waiting till Jane recovers is great.

Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then departed, and Elizabeth returned instantly to Jane, leaving her own and her relations' behaviour to the remarks of the two ladies and Mr. Darcy; the latter of whom, however, could not be prevailed on to join in their censure of her, in spite of all Miss Bingley's witticisms on fine eyes.

103
  • Politeness is not to express one’s disapproval. Culture is not to feel it.
  • Stupidity chooses the other man’s strength for criticism

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