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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 11

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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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When the ladies removed after dinner, Elizabeth ran up to her sister, and seeing her well guarded from cold, attended her into the drawing-room, where she was welcomed by her two friends with many professions of pleasure; and Elizabeth had never seen them so agreeable as they were during the hour which passed before the gentlemen appeared. Their powers of conversation were considerable. They could describe an entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour, and laugh at their acquaintance with spirit.

1
  • Alertness is to remain on the first object of attention.
  • Conversation is not mere communication. Imagination expanding an event as the language enrichingly permits is conversation.
  • Power of conversation is so far removed as ordinary speech is different from inarticulate sound.
  • One needs well-developed powers of mind to describe an entertainment with accuracy.
  • To see an entertainment is different from describing it accurately.
  • The Bingley sisters demonsrate the way social climbing disfigures the climbers.

But when the gentlemen entered, Jane was no longer the first object; Miss Bingley's eyes were instantly turned towards Darcy, and she had something to say to him before he had advanced many steps. He addressed himself directly to Miss Bennet, with a polite congratulation; Mr. Hurst also made her a slight bow, and said he was 'very glad'; but diffuseness and warmth remained for Bingley's salutation. He was full of joy and attention. The first half-hour was spent in piling up the fire, lest she should suffer from the change of room; and she removed at his desire to the other side of the fireplace, that she might be farther from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to any one else. Elizabeth, at work in the opposite corner, saw it all with great delight.

4
  • The sisters are intrinsically mercenary, polite on the surface.
  • Attraction by interest acts instantaneously.
  • Diffuseness and warmth are expressive of the overflowing emotions of an unstructured character.
  • Human relationships readily reveal the various grades of interest.
  • Feelings of affection expand the inner sensations in joy.
  • True love feels the slightest discomfort as the total loss of everything as perfection of possession is the experience of love.
  • Bingley was violently in love as he scarcely talked to anyone else.
  • Jane fully absorbed Bingley’s attention.
  • But is totally passive. She talks but says nothing. She takes zero chances. No wonder Darcy doubts her affection.
  • Capacity to be uncivil to another is one indication of being violently in love.
  • To receive attention is joy, to enjoy another’s success is delight.

When tea was over, Mr. Hurst reminded his sister-in-law of the card-table -- but in vain. She had obtained private intelligence that Mr. Darcy did not wish for cards; and Mr. Hurst soon found even his open petition rejected. She assured him that no one intended to play, and the silence of the whole party on the subject seemed to justify her. Mr. Hurst had therefore nothing to do but to stretch himself on one of the sofas and go to sleep. Darcy took up a book; Miss Bingley did the same; and Mrs. Hurst, principally occupied in playing with her bracelets and rings, joined now and then in her brother's conversation with Miss Bennet.

10
  • The card game is an active version of sleeping on the sofa.
  • The subtle atmosphere is built up by private information.
  • There was a wide variety of card games. Some, like whist, required skill.
  • It was not a cheerful gathering of pleasant friends, but a polite gathering of those who were compulsorily thrown together.
  • Because of the tension between Darcy and Elizabeth.

Miss Bingley's attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy's progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, "How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."

15
  • To Caroline, ‘Darcy’ comprises of all the population of the house.
  • A dominant personality pervades his own people silently.
  • For one in love, there exists only one object in the world.
  • It is a wretched state to seek attention. It is worse still if the efforts meet with failure.
  • Thinking loud is the habit of one who lives in oneself.
  • A small mind’s ploys backfire

No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement; when, hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and said -- "By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure."

21
  • Active expressive attention precedes silent unexpressed love.
  • Bingley is more than willing to please Jane by giving a ball
  • The joy of negativism is a source of fulfillment.
  • Caroline’s great yawn shows her violent love is on the surface mind as love knows no tiredness of any description.
  • While yawning, she describes the evening as pleasant. Yawning represents lack of environmental response, while pleasure shows deep down she is pleasantly engaged.
  • He who has organised his occupation will never be bored.
  • Caroline is the female Collins where darcy is concerned.

"If you mean Darcy," cried her brother, "he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins -- but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards."

24
  • When one’s own interest is involved, not even the weak characters allow interference.
  • Caroline is against the ball to prevent Darcy from dancing with Eliza.
  • One man’s pleasure is another man’s punishment
  • It is this ball that brought Darcy and Lizzy together. Caroline is perceptive of that

"I should like balls infinitely better," she replied, "if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day."

25
  • A submissive person asserts within limits.
  • Any initiative in despair, as a rule, leads to despair and frustration.
  • Darcy shows he can be playful.

"Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball."

27

Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards got up and walked about the room. Her figure was elegant, and she walked well; but Darcy, at whom it was all aimed, was still inflexibly studious. In the desperation of her feelings, she resolved on one effort more, and turning to Elizabeth, said --

28

"Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."

31
  • Caroline studiously attempts to impress Darcy. To Elizabeth’s surprise she calls her, too little knowing Darcy would like that more. It is a truism that wherever there is truth, there is force. Perhaps that compels Caroline to act this way.
  • Caroline soon finds out her effort ended in a lively conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth. The atmosphere is so powerful in favour of Elizabeth that Caroline was unconsciously drawn into it.
  • Elizabeth is painfully aware she was a misfit there.
  • Miss Bingley who is in love mistakes Darcy’s interest is for her.
  • Repeatedly, Elizabeth acknowledges that she does not understand darcy. But she seems to blame him for her failure.
  • Idle prattle admits of inadvertent interpretations
  • Her father's constant teasing has taught Elizabeth the right way to deal with teasers. She resents darcy treating her in a manner reminiscent of the way her father treats her mother (though not her).

Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility: Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their chusing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. What could he mean? She was dying to know what could be his meaning -- and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him?

33

"Not at all," was her answer; "but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it."

39

Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in anything, and persevered, therefore, in requiring an explanation of his two motives.

40
  • It is not in Caroline’s power to punish Darcy.
  • Admiration annihilates the power to punish.
  • Elizabeth's ability to laugh at her neigbors made her her father's favorite. Most men are repelled by it. But it charms clever Darcy. He, unlike Bingley, can keep up.
  • Elizabeth talks with energy; her energy comes from neglect.
  • Intimacy gives the liberty to be severe or silly.
  • Miss Bingley is submissive even in love. Lizzy is defiant. It is that which is seen as liveliness by Darcy.
  • Elizabeth’s defiance takes its own vehement form by her energy.
  • Submissiveness is insipid. Non-compliance is attractive by its energy.
  • Humour and joke puts even greatness into a human perspective.
  • The whims of one the, inconsistencies of another divert an idle company pleasantly.
  • Darcy’s study of life has made him selfish and mean! One who studies indirectly confirms his own character

11 turn about room Pride and Prejudice

"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. "You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; -- if the first, I should be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."

41

"Oh! Shocking!" Cried Miss Bingley. "I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?"

43

"Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination," said Elizabeth. "We can all plague and punish one another. Tease him -- laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done."

46

"But upon my honour I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Tease calmness of temper and presence of mind! No, no -- I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself."

50

"Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!" Cried Elizabeth. "That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh."

56
  • Elizabeth’s daring to laugh at Darcy is interesting to him.

"Miss Bingley," said he, "has given me credit for more than can be. The wisest and the best of men -- nay, the wisest and best of their actions -- may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke."

59

"Certainly," replied Elizabeth -- "there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without."

61
  • Elizabeth taunts him with implied folly.

"Perhaps that is not possible for any one. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule."

65
  • Darcy takes the occasion to make his strength felt, not knowing he is completely vulnerable.

"Such as vanity and pride."

67

"Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride -- where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation."

68
  • It is folly in Darcy to defend pride in the name of superiority of mind.
  • Darcy fully played himself into a trap constructed by him.

Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile.

70

"Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume," said Miss Bingley; "and pray what is the result?"

71

"I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise."

72
  • Elizabeth’s ridicule is totally a success.

"No," said Darcy, "I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding -- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever."

74
  • This is the earliest occasion for Darcy to grow self-critical.

"That is a failing indeed!" Cried Elizabeth. "Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me."

82

"There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil -- a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome."

87

"And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody."

88

"And yours," he replied, with a smile, "is wilfully to misunderstand them."

89
  • Darcy and Elizabeth describe each other while she is directly accusing him, he pleads, by implication, not to be misunderstood.
  • Darcy tries to help Elizabeth understand him better. But she is in no mood to try.

"Do let us have a little music," cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which she had no share. "Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst."

90
  • Caroline is baffled by the level of the discussion and she can be no part of it as she is no intellectual.
  • Vanity is the imbalance of insufficiency
  • Pride is the inflexible structure of uncultured selfishness
  • No sensible man can ever justify Pride.
  • Darcy betrays his insufficiency pathetically before Elizabeth.
  • To a selfish man, he is himself the standard.
  • Darcy is indelicate not to know his Pride
  • Obviously Elizabeth is the more cultivated among them all of them
  • Raw human nature never fails to emerge when touched.
  • Darcy tries to help her understand him but she willfully refuses. She also loses the argument and control. Clearly he does not hate everybody. He thinks she is cute when she is angry.
  • There is no show of politeness towards a sleeping gentleman.

11 darcy Pride and Prejudice

Her sister made not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte was opened; and Darcy, after a few moments' recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.

92
  • He is afraid of what attracts him most.

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