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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 23

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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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Elizabeth was sitting with her mother and sisters, reflecting on what she had heard, and doubting whether she were authorised to mention it, when Sir William Lucas himself appeared, sent by his daughter to announce her engagement to the family. With many compliments to them, and much self-gratulation on the prospect of a connexion between the two houses, he unfolded the matter -- to an audience not merely wondering, but incredulous; for Mrs. Bennet, with more perseverance than politeness, protested he must be entirely mistaken; and Lydia, always unguarded and often uncivil, boisterously exclaimed --

1
  • Expanding energy enjoys in continuous expansion.
  • In Elizabeth it is not only doubt whether she is authorised but the shame of shrinking prevents disclosure.
  • Sir Lucas delights in being related to Longbourn.
  • People refuse to believe what they do not like.
  • Existence requires self-confidence.
  • Wonder is at the enormity, disbelief at the dislike.
  • The incredulous protests of all the family were due to the loss of Longbourn.
  • Manners are of the surface. We see Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are incapable of it. Mrs. Bennet not believing the truth of the engagement really expresses that it should be broken. Perceptive people infer the one from the other. Sir Lucas, apart from his forbearing courtesy, values the wealth of Mr. Bennet’s family in not reacting to the unkind remarks. Elizabeth finds it impossible for one reason. Mrs. Bennet does not approve of it for opposite reasons. It is worth noting that in one house the parents and daughter celebrate it and in the other house the parent and daughter disapprove of it. Social status validates itself

23 kitty lydia Pride and Prejudice

"Good Lord! Sir William, how can you tell such a story? Do not you know that Mr. Collins wants to marry Lizzy?"

3
  • Lydia exclaimed at Sir Willliam; the whole world did so to her later.

Nothing less than the complaisance of a courtier could have borne without anger such treatment; but Sir William's good-breeding carried him through it all; and though he begged leave to be positive as to the truth of his information, he listened to all their impertinence with the most forbearing courtesy.

5

Elizabeth, feeling it incumbent on her to relieve him from so unpleasant a situation, now put herself forward to confirm his account, by mentioning her prior knowledge of it from Charlotte herself; and endeavoured to put a stop to the exclamations of her mother and sisters by the earnestness of her congratulations to Sir William, in which she was readily joined by Jane, and by making a variety of remarks on the happiness that might be expected from the match, the excellent character of Mr. Collins, and the convenient distance of Hunsford from London.

6
  • To face life with equanimity, one needs as much good breeding as Sir Lucas had.
  • The offensive insult hurled at Sir Lucas is because of their wealth.

Mrs. Bennet was, in fact, too much overpowered to say a great deal while Sir William remained; but no sooner had he left them than her feelings found a rapid vent. In the first place, she persisted in disbelieving the whole of the matter; secondly, she was very sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in; thirdly, she trusted that they would never be happy together; and fourthly, that the match might be broken off. Two inferences, however, were plainly deduced from the whole; one, that Elizabeth was the real cause of all the mischief; and the other, that she herself had been barbarously used by them all; and on these two points she principally dwelt during the rest of the day. Nothing could console and nothing appease her. Nor did that day wear out her resentment. A week elapsed before she could see Elizabeth without scolding her, a month passed away before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas without being rude, and many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter.

7
  • Elizabeth does not come forward readily at the first outburst to reveal the truth as she endorses their behaviour.
  • Jane is drawn to the picture when Elizabeth goes into action.
  • Jane alone is capable of seeing the varieties of happiness for Charlotte.
  • Everyone can see enough excellence in any other if they try like Jane.
  • The untamed, unformed, sometimes tries to acquire culture out of necessity. Mrs. Bennet suffers from the suffocation of culture.
  • Such an outburst travels through the rationality of its logic. Mrs. Bennet enumerates four possibilities by the exercise of such a faculty.
  • The gradation in her logic that it is not true, is mistaken, will not yield fruit and finally will be broken is exactly the understanding of the physical of a thing which it dislikes.
  • Mrs. Bennet claims to be in the fashion of martyrdom.
  • Dynamic people are inconsolable.
  • It would be Mrs. Bennet’s victory over her husband if Elizabeth had married Mr. Collins.
  • The hardest thing for a man is to accept that he is foolish, much more so to the genuine fool.
  • The four stages of opinions Mrs. Bennet moves through are the normal negative human thinking as it looks at life from its centre and seeks a justification of itself
  • Time heals Mrs. Bennet’s sufferings in stages

Mr. Bennet's emotions were much more tranquil on the occasion, and such as he did experience he pronounced to be of a most agreeable sort; for it gratified him, he said, to discover that Charlotte Lucas, whom he had been used to think tolerably sensible, was as foolish as his wife, and more foolish than his daughter!

13
  • Mr. Bennet’s one consolation is to find another like his wife.
  • It is an inverse subconscious memory of his proposal to Mrs. Bennet. He went by her beauty and was disappointed. Now Charlotte goes by Mr. Collins’ future wealth.
  • Mr. Bennet is unable to see the wisdom of Charlotte

Jane confessed herself a little surprised at the match; but she said less of her astonishment than of her earnest desire for their happiness; nor could Elizabeth persuade her to consider it as improbable. Kitty and Lydia were far from envying Miss Lucas, for Mr. Collins was only a clergyman; and it affected them in no other way than as a piece of news to spread at Meryton.

14
  • Jane’s character is organised appearance of goodness.
  • Jane maintains her poise of positive thinking
  • Jealousy does not arise from another plane.

Lady Lucas could not be insensible of triumph on being able to retort on Mrs. Bennet the comfort of having a daughter well married; and she called at Longbourn rather oftener than usual to say how happy she was, though Mrs. Bennet's sour looks and ill-natured remarks might have been enough to drive happiness away.

16
  • Sense of triumph is greater than material accomplishment.
  • Lady Lucas’s frequent visit to Mrs. Bennet explain the carrier of gossip.
  • The greatest moment in a lady’s life is the moment of her daughter’s wedding

Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually silent on the subject; and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again. Her disappointment in Charlotte made her turn with fonder regard to her sister, of whose rectitude and delicacy she was sure her opinion could never be shaken, and for whose happiness she grew daily more anxious, as Bingley had now been gone a week, and nothing was heard of his return.

17
  • Enthusiasm is between similar vibrations. Restraint is between dissimilar circumstances.
  • Charlotte, after marriage, has become more like Elizabeth. Previously Elizabeth’s superiority could condescend. Now it cannot.
  • There is a parallel between Elizabeth’s disapproval of Charlotte’s marriage and her father’s disapproval of Darcy. Elizabeth knew the distances she travelled in accepting Darcy and the various stages. She does not know that Charlotte passed all those stages and distances in her disappointed youth and arrived at accepting Collins. She pities Charlotte in her youthful ignorance of inexperience

Jane had sent Caroline an early answer to her letter, and was counting the days till she might reasonably hope to hear again. The promised letter of thanks from Mr. Collins arrived on Tuesday, addressed to their father, and written with all the solemnity of gratitude which a twelvemonth's abode in the family might have prompted. After discharging his conscience on that head, he proceeded to inform them, with many rapturous expressions, of his happiness in having obtained the affection of their amiable neighbour, Miss Lucas, and then explained that it was merely with the view of enjoying her society that he had been so ready to close with their kind wish of seeing him again at Longbourn, whither he hoped to be able to return on Monday fortnight; for Lady Catherine, he added, so heartily approved his marriage that she wished it to take place as soon as possible, which he trusted would be an unanswerable argument with his amiable Charlotte to name an early day for making him the happiest of men.

19
  • Expectation is greatest when no answer could come.
  • Expectation works, inadvertently.
  • Joy insists on celebrating itself.
  • His offer to stay at Longbourn has its foretaste of ownership.
  • Jane’s greatest depths are of the surface

23 jane sad Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Collins's return into Hertfordshire was no longer a matter of pleasure to Mrs. Bennet. On the contrary, she was as much disposed to complain of it as her husband. -- It was very strange that he should come to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge; it was also very inconvenient and exceedingly troublesome. -- She hated having visitors in the house while her health was so indifferent, and lovers were of all people the most disagreeable. Such were the gentle murmurs of Mrs. Bennet, and they gave way only to the greater distress of Mr. Bingley's continued absence.

22
  • From the beginning of his first letter till Lydia’s elopement, Mr. Collins is a source of annoyance.
  • Collins lives his experience of marital bliss in his eloquent composition
  • Superstition makes the irrelevant important
  • It is the subtle infectious personality of the entail.
  • The same annoyance brought them Darcy later.
  • Present of lovers is an annoyance to Mrs. Bennet.
  • In her own marriage she had to strain her nerves to get Mr. Bennet. Now wooing reminds her of her earlier ordeal.
  • Bingley’s continued absence releases negative energy.
  • These developments organise that energy.

Neither Jane nor Elizabeth were comfortable on this subject. Day after day passed away without bringing any other tidings of him than the report which shortly prevailed in Meryton of his coming no more to Netherfield the whole winter; a report which highly incensed Mrs. Bennet, and which she never failed to contradict as a most scandalous falsehood.

27
  • Bingley’s arrival there is postponed till they all lost hope.
  • “Lovers of all the people are disagreeable” to Mrs. Bennet as it is a subconscious reminder to her of her own trap and chase of her husband in her youth
  • More than a disagreeable fact, mention of it incenses.

Even Elizabeth began to fear -- not that Bingley was indifferent -- but that his sisters would be successful in keeping him away. Unwilling as she was to admit an idea so destructive of Jane's happiness, and so dishonourable to the stability of her lover, she could not prevent its frequently recurring. The united efforts of his two unfeeling sisters and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of Miss Darcy and the amusements of London, might be too much, she feared, for the strength of his attachment.

29
  • Elizabeth clings to her illusion of Bingley’s loyalty and it came true.
  • One’s faith in an idea makes it happen, even if it is not true.
  • Elizabeth sees her judgement of Bingley fail
  • Compunction for the loss of the offender is one major characteristic of submissiveness.
  • Louisa does not take initiative. She is always an accomplice.
  • Elizabeth feels sorry for the ill-reputation of Bingley due to desertion.
  • Belief arises out of what one likes or needs.
  • Unwilling to admit to so destructive an idea, Elizabeth never believed it.
  • For submissive characters, friendship is fulfilling in subordination.
  • Darcy is the overpowering friend.
  • Mind believes what it hears, even if it is non-existent.
  • Love in youth is as powerful as the attractions of a city.
  • The attachment of Bingley or its reality is secondary. Jane was married primarily on the strength of her sister’s good will and her own silent will.

As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspence was, of course, more painful than Elizabeth's; but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing, and between herself and Elizabeth, therefore, the subject was never alluded to. But as no such delicacy restrained her mother, an hour seldom passed in which she did not talk of Bingley, express her impatience for his arrival, or even require Jane to confess that if he did not come back, she should think herself very ill used. It needed all Jane's steady mildness to bear these attacks with tolerable tranquillity.

32
  • Suspense is painful, anxiety under this suspense is even more painful.
  • It brings out the truth that the vital is more powerful than the physical.
  • Jane conceals whatever she felt. Naturally, it increases her pain.
  • Speaking out relaxes. Silence creates tension.
  • The daughters have developed a delicacy the mother has not.
  • The process of indelicate unrestraint becoming delicacy is vitally painful. 23.33
  • Cultural evolution in the society is slow, as it is painful.
  • One justifies one’s failures by the imagined defects of others.
  • Mrs. Bennet was ready to think that Jane was ill-used.
  • It is noteworthy that the same lady never felt Lydia ill-used them all.
  • Jane’s suffering is due to double causes, disappointment and the need to appear unconcerned. The latter makes one stoic
  • Bingley would not come as long as he is expected
  • In fact, he really comes, when everyone exhausts their expectation

Mr. Collins returned most punctually on the Monday fortnight, but his reception at Longbourn was not quite so gracious as it had been on his first introduction. He was too happy, however, to need much attention; and, luckily for the others, the business of love-making relieved them from a great deal of his company. The chief of every day was spent by him at Lucas Lodge, and he sometimes returned to Longbourn only in time to make an apology for his absence before the family went to bed.

35
  • In a sensitive atmosphere, positive people arrive with sympathy; negative people, for their reason, arrive in such a fashion to intensity by their sensitivity.
  • Collins, full of anticipated joy, punctually arrives to irritate everyone.
  • Mr. Collins’ first reception was out of curiosity based on his letter.
  • His second reception anticipates his wedding.
  • Note he visits Longbourn twice; later he writes twice. To start with, he thought of Jane, proposed to Elizabeth. That too was two-pronged.
  • One who is overflowing with ecstasy needs no attention. He cannot notice inattention. Nor can he observe in the person on whom he pours his energies that no notice is taken of it. 23.36
  • Cheerfulness is a safe foundation of yoga.
  • It is a self-forgetful condition well suited to move towards Self.
  • In happiness or sorrow or even coma, habit survives.
  • In Collins, love-making, behaving in public, existing, functioning are all one, one of obsequious apologising.
  • Intensity for Mr. Collins or Mrs. Bennet is apologising or pitiableness.
  • Collins trespasses on Mr. Bennet’s hospitality longer than necessary because Darcy is to come through him

Mrs. Bennet was really in a most pitiable state. The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. Whenever Charlotte came to see them, she concluded her to be anticipating the hour of possession; and whenever she spoke in a low voice to Mr. Collins, was convinced that they were talking of the Longbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the house as soon as Mr. Bennet were dead. She complained bitterly of all this to her husband.

38
  • Mrs. Bennet is a dynamo of energy. It can either be in ecstasy or an agony of ill-humour. She knows of no state in-between.
  • Of the five senses, sight is comprehensive, voice is pleasingly penetrative, touch is deeply fulfilling, smell elevates, taste sweetens the depths.
  • For the woman, children are more important than the husband, the house is all important next only to children.
  • The house for the woman is the material husband.
  • You project yourself into others.
  • Often by our intensity of non-existing thoughts we create the very thoughts we want them not to have.
  • More than losing the house, what hurts Mrs. Bennet is that Charlotte will be the successor.
  • If man is incapable of the other man’s point of view, he is infinitely capable of non-existing points of view of his own on an issue.
  • The way in which one lets his overflowing joy express or sorrow express, reveals his character.
  • “threw Mrs. Bennet into an agony of ill humour”. Apparently this is because the match came to spoil her plans and rob her of the estate. By a long term perception a subtle sense can have, Darcy coming into her family giving Elizabeth £10,000 a year and a status inconceivable is now subconsciously felt by Mrs. Bennet as a great fulfillment of her deepest aspiration which is too much for her nerves and temperament to hear

"Indeed, Mr. Bennet," said she, "it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take my place in it!"

44
  • She has no delicacy not to mention his death to him.
  • Mrs. Bennet has a rich practical imagination of the physical mind. The sight of Charlotte is anathema to her. Her imagination runs riot in her mind.
  • She is a woman who must speak as she thinks about Charlotte. To her what she imagines is more than real.
  • His consolation is refined. She has no instrument to respond to it.
  • One characteristic of the physical is it repeats its position verbatim after it is fully analysed, answered and warded off
  • Mr. Bennet draws her particular attention to her indelicacy by asking what she would not mind. She is oblivious of the sting.
  • The entail is a legal detail she cannot comprehend. It is foolish for her to talk of something she does not know. Only after listening to her insensible, foolish repetition, does it strike Mr. Bennet she that is incorrigible

"My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor."

45
  • This page reveals the reality of his marriage or all marriages.

This was not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet, and therefore, instead of making any answer, she went on as before,

48
  • Man is perishable, property is not.
  • She ignores his explanation as she has ignored his existence all her life.


"I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the entail, I should not mind it."

49
  • She almost says she would not mind his dying if the entail were not there.

"What should not you mind?"

51
  • He is crude enough to ask what she would not mind.
  • He wants one more occasion for his perennial complaint.

"I should not mind anything at all."

52
  • Nothing matters to her except herself and her comforts.

"Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility."

53

"I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for anything about the entail. How any one could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters, I cannot understand; and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too! -- Why should he have it more than anybody else?"

54
  • She does not understand. In her ignorance she accuses him of the entail. As all thoughts are evil, ignorance in its active state can only be evil. She thinks of her own thoughts only – Mr. Collins.
  • Jane Austen has this page to emphasise the insensitivity of Mrs. Bennet.

"I leave it to yourself to determine," said Mr. Bennet.

57
  • A page that reveals Austen’s genius about human nature.

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