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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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During dinner Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn, he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore started a subject in which he expected him to shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness. Lady Catherine de Bourgh's attention to his wishes, and consideration for his comfort, appeared very remarkable. Mr. Bennet could not have chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise. The subject elevated him to more than usual solemnity of manner, and with a most important aspect he protested that "he had never in his life witnessed such behaviour in a person of rank -- such affability and condescension, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine. She had been graciously pleased to approve of both the discourses which he had already had the honour of preaching before her. She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen anything but affability in her. She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not the smallest objection to his joining in the society of the neighbourhood, nor to his leaving his parish occasionally for a week or two, to visit his relations. She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion; and had once paid him a visit in his humble parsonage; where she had perfectly approved all the alterations he had been making, and had even vouchsafed to suggest some herself, -- some shelves in the closets up stairs."

1
  • Mr. Bennet has the restraint not to talk before the servants which his wife does not have. That is the only measure of his difference.
  • Though inoffensive to tickle Collins about his patron, there is the underlying meanness of the act or its intention. It is a trait of the gentry who value themselves more than the townspeople. [Such incidents in the whole book can serve us well].
  • Collins’ praise issues out of the sense of wonder he had not yet outlived.
  • His sense of elevation is nascent. The education of Oxford raised him from his status of non-entity as much as he now feels the gap between him and Lady Catherine.
  • He is a snob in the sense that he is pleased by pleasing her.
  • To him, her pleasure is an act of grace that descends from nobility.
  • Mr. Collins is a clownish buffoon devoid of not only good manners but the capacity for common sense.
  • Lady Catherine’s greatness is the living centre of his human existence. He feels all the privilege all the time of being a snob.
  • Arrogance is affability when the power of arrogance shapes the unformed substance in him.
  • He has not seen any pride in her. His motto is, “It is a joy to die for greatness.”
  • ‘He had never seen’ is a common meaningless phrase to express one’s sense of wonder. Collins had not seen any of the world. In his mouth it is absurd. Small men using fine phrases renders them ridiculous.
  • Collins is incapable of knowing the difference between deference and neglect. Lady Catherine is incapable of good behaviour towards anyone. In this combination of circumstance, Collins is doubly ridiculous.
  • Personalities expand at their weakest points.
  • Education without culture makes one pompous.
  • The outer social strength of rank pleasantly fills the inner vacuum.
  • Man excels himself in appreciating his own value.
  • Rank accords equality at the table.
  • Officiousness is rank’s smallness
  • To talk of a subject not related to the hearer is unmannerly. Collins is boorish
  • Lady Catherine’s advice to Collins to marry is no condescension but officious interference.
  • No one can ask another to marry according to her ideas. This only shows the absurdity of her personality.
  • She is officious, silly, and pompous.

14 collins Pride and Prejudice

"That is all very proper and civil, I am sure," said Mrs. Bennet, "and I dare say she is a very agreeable woman. It is a pity that great ladies in general are not more like her. Does she live near you, sir?"

11
  • To Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine is agreeable.

"The garden in which stands my humble abode, is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship's residence."

14
  • He prides in the proximity of his residence to hers.

"I think you said she was a widow, sir? Has she any family?"

15
  • How Mrs. Bennet inferred that Catherine is a widow is not known.

"She has one only daughter, the heiress of Rosings, and of very extensive property."

17

"Ah!" Cried Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head, "then she is better off than many girls. And what sort of young lady is she? Is she handsome?"

18

"She is a most charming young lady indeed. Lady Catherine herself says that, in point of true beauty, Miss De Bourgh is far superior to the handsomest of her sex; because there is that in her features which marks the young woman of distinguished birth. She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has prevented her making that progress in many accomplishments, which she could not otherwise have failed of, as I am informed by the lady who superintended her education, and who still resides with them. But she is perfectly amiable, and often condescends to drive by my humble abode in her little phaeton and ponies."

21

"Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies at court."

25
  • It is a wonder Mr. Bennet could know if Lady Anne was presented.

"Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that means, as I told Lady Catherine myself one day, has deprived the British court of its brightest ornament. Her ladyship seemed pleased with the idea; and you may imagine that I am happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies. I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine, that her charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank, instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her. These are the kind of little things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay."

27
  • Mr. Collins is elated by his sycophancy.
  • The normal tendency is to evaluate another by one’s own standard.
  • An admirer is obviously oblivious.
  • Man imagines to his credit the lost opportunities

"You judge very properly," said Mr. Bennet, "and it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?"

31
  • Mr. Bennet’s meanness acquires vigour.
  • Mr. Bennet enjoys tickling Mr. Collins, an unbecoming act which recoiled on him through two letters of his later
  • Even in this dubious vocation, Mr. Bennet provides for creativity.

"They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible."

33
  • One symptom of stupidity is its pride over things others will be ashamed of

Mr. Bennet's expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.

34
  • His mean stratagem fully worked. Think of this in the context of Darcy and Caroline resorting to a ruse and Wickham’s scandal.
    • ‘Nothing can come to us that is not in us.’ Analyse this conversation in the light of 1) his proposal 2) his wedding, 3) Elizabeth’s visit to Hunsford, 4) Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth, 5) Collins’ two letters on Lydia and Darcy, 6) His hiding from Lady Catherine at Meryton.
  • To take advantage of one’s ignorance or lack of culture is mean.
  • Form without content enjoys empty forms embellished.
  • The satisfaction of fulfilled expectation is real. Mr. Bennet is not magnanimous to enjoy at the expense of Mr. Collin’s lack of upbringing.
  • Pleasure shared is pleasure doubled

By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library) he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce's Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with --

36
  • Giving a novel to a clergyman is inappropriate.
  • The reading ended abruptly.
  • Vast differences in culture do not permit even a slight compromise.
  • In those days, novel reading was looked upon as dissipation.
  • Lydia’s elopement is foreshadowed by this event.

"Do you know, mama, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard; and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town."

41
  • Lydia knows no discipline of any kind
  • Not to be offended by ignorance is a degree of culture.
  • Indelicacy pampered is indecorous.
  • Visits of guest expose vulnerable families.
  • Mr. Bennet has no implicit authority at home; it has to be enforced.
  • Lydia’s unabashed indecorous behaviour is seen here.
  • Mature culture accommodates all shades of behavior. A family that collectively absorbs such shocks from outside or inside is of course traditionally rich in culture

Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said --

44
  • Mr. Collins’ unsuccessful proposal too is seen subtly here.

"I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin."

45
  • Lydia was to be controlled.

Then, turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antagonist at backgammon. Mr. Bennet accepted the challenge, observing that he acted very wisely in leaving the girls to their own trifling amusements. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters apologised most civilly for Lydia's interruption, and promised that it should not occur again, if he would resume his book; but Mr. Collins, after assuring them that he bore his young cousin no ill-will, and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated himself at another table with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for backgammon.

48

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