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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 24

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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

Miss Bingley's letter arrived, and put an end to doubt. The very first sentence conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and concluded with her brother's regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country.

1
  • Expectation cancels the letter or cancels the rightness of the expected information.
  • That was a period when boys were not permitted to write to girls, though they could meet, talk and dance. All these are social, writing a letter is a personal relation. Mrs. Gardiner expected a letter from Darcy to Elizabeth after visiting Pemberly is extraordinary. Perhaps she could condone Darcy writing to Elizabeth in view of his exalted status. His not writing confirmed the convention

Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter, she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any comfort. Miss Darcy's praise occupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again dwelt on, and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter. She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother's being an inmate of Mr. Darcy's house, and mentioned with raptures some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture.

3
  • Caroline writes to Jane Miss Darcy’s praise. When one is in love, he finds every occasion to talk about his lover directly or indirectly congenial outlet to his pent up feelings

Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in silent indignation. Her heart was divided between concern for her sister and resentment against all the others. To Caroline's assertion of her brother's being partial to Miss Darcy she paid no credit. That he was really fond of Jane, she doubted no more than she had ever done; and much as she had always been disposed to like him, she could not think without anger, hardly without contempt, on that easiness of temper, that want of proper resolution, which now made him the slave of his designing friends, and led him to sacrifice his own happiness to the caprice of their inclinations. Had his own happiness, however, been the only sacrifice, he might have been allowed to sport with it in what ever manner he thought best; but her sister's was involved in it, as she thought he must be sensible himself. It was a subject, in short, on which reflection would be long indulged, and must be unavailing. She could think of nothing else; and yet, whether Bingley's regard had really died away, or were suppressed by his friends' interference; whether he had been aware of Jane's attachment, or whether it had escaped his observation; whichever were the case, though her opinion of him must be materially affected by the difference, her sister's situation remained the same, her peace equally wounded.

7
  • Elizabeth was distressed by Jane’s ignorance, annoyed by Caroline’s designs and above all the spinelessness of Bingley put her out of her good mood. Nor does he seem to be endowed with compunction as his behaviour hurts Jane
  • The one thing that matters to Elizabeth is her sister’s joy.
  • Elizabeth’s chief concern was Jane. All her perceptive penetration do not offer her a satisfactory answer. She wants all circumstances to oblige her. None does. She is mortified
  • Elizabeth was not hurt by the want of proper resolution in Jane’s future husband. All that she seeks in him is his being her husband.
  • There is no streak of idealism in Elizabeth. She marries Pemberley. She seeks Bingley only for his money.

24 elizabeth Pride and Prejudice

A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth; but at last on Mrs. Bennet's leaving them together, after a longer irritation than usual about Netherfield and its master, she could not help saying --

14
  • Jane acknowledges the pain caused by Bingley. Her first thought when she sees no possibility of his return was not one of yearning but how to forget it. Of course, there is no longing for the man, but a yearning for the marriage. There is no passion or infatuation as in the case of Elizabeth for Wickham. Passion for Elizabeth in Darcy is writ large all over him. Often he was too full to speak. No such intensity actuates Jane. Her only complaint is her mother’s irritation bothers her in season and out of season.
  • The power of silent will by virtue of circumstances, the power of non-violence by one who has no power, is the power of the woman.
  • Jane expostulates with Elizabeth. Bingley, she says, is only an amiable acquaintance, no more. She is anxious no harm is ever done to anyone but herself. This is a mental attitude, not emotional distress of intensity. Even if it is of the mind, this has power. It is this power that brought Bingley back to her. Elizabeth finds it an angelic attitude
  • The absence of asserting independence of Bingley, clear choice of £2000 coming with nauseating stupidity are unaccountable to Elizabeth. In the first, she does not see that she seeks wealth through marriage. Bingley respects the power of wealth in Darcy. One brings the other. She, of course, cannot know her own mercenary motive. In the latter, she is incapable of knowing what it is to be plain and condemned to old maid hood. She was brought up in affluence and has no possibility of fear of poverty

"Oh that my dear mother had more command over herself! She can have no idea of the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him. But I will not repine. It cannot last long. He will be forgot, and we shall all be as we were before."

15
  • Jane’s decision not to repine gives her strength.

Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing.

20
  • Elizabeth generates incredulous solicitude as Jane generates silent power.

"You doubt me," cried Jane, slightly colouring; "indeed you have no reason. He may live in my memory as the most amiable man of my acquaintance, but that is all. I have nothing either to hope or fear, and nothing to reproach him with. Thank God! I have not that pain. A little time therefore -- I shall certainly try to get the better."

21
  • This is how the heart decides and collects power.

With a stronger voice she soon added, "I have this comfort immediately, that it has not been more than an error of fancy on my side, and that it has done no harm to any one but myself."

27

"My dear Jane!" Exclaimed Elizabeth, "you are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestedness are really angelic; I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had never done you justice, or loved you as you deserve."

28
  • Jane’s goodness that is evident to Elizabeth is really her inner strength. It evokes the sister’s admiration.
  • Elizabeth does discover greater depths in Jane.

Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit, and threw back the praise on her sister's warm affection.

31
  • Accepting the praise is to weaken her resolution.

"Nay," said Elizabeth, "this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable, and are hurt if I speak ill of anybody. I only want to think you perfect, and you set yourself against it. Do not be afraid of my running into any excess, of my encroaching on your privilege of universal goodwill. You need not. There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense. I have met with two instances lately: one I will not mention, the other is Charlotte's marriage. It is unaccountable! In every view it is unaccountable!"

32
  • Whether Jane thinks all the world respectable or not, she refuses to think ill of Bingley.
  • Jane does approach perfection in her attitude.
  • The perceptive penetration Elizabeth has doubts everyone.
  • Jane is so unexpressive, maybe enough to appear unfeeling, that her passivity makes Elizabeth fully relate to her.
  • Jane has the behaviour of universal good will. It is no manners in her. Had it been character in her, she would have excelled all in the story. In her parentage she does not have the basis for that. That would make her Faria in the Dumas story.
  • Jane is loved by Elizabeth. Its power brings her Bingley.
  • Elizabeth does not approve of her mother or even her father whose treatment of his wife, whose irresponsibility to Lydia are not approved by her. For her to think well of Jane is something.
  • Elizabeth continuously improves her mind.
  • Man is rational in his affairs, irrational with others.
  • She sees all the inconsistencies of all human character
  • Man learns at the point he is touched.
  • Charlotte’s marriage brings to her the mercenary nature of Man.
  • She is disturbed because she is made to marry Pemberley.
  • In Bingley, she is sorely aware, in spite of his utter nervelessness, she wants Jane to marry him. That knowledge touches her real personality.
  • By ‘unaccountable’ she means she is deeply touched and the touch disturbs her and still she remains what she is.
  • She is aware of her own attraction to Wickham who she is subconsciously aware is unreliable. These two events remind her of what she is.

"My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your happiness. You do not make allowance enough for difference of situation and temper. Consider Mr. Collins's respectability, and Charlotte's prudent, steady character. Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune it is a most eligible match; and be ready to believe, for everybody's sake, that she may feel something like regard and esteem for our cousin."

42
  • Jane is trying to convince herself about her view of life in asking her sister not to ruin her happiness.
  • Jane pleads for Charlotte not out of understanding, but because she cannot harbour a low opinion about Charlotte. This is her mental discipline and it has power over life
  • Jane is one who could have married Mr. Collins. That is why he is respectable to her. There is no difference between Bingley and Collins except in manners. Mr. Collins is a strong character. Bingley has no character strength.
  • Man, in any situation, decides first and finds the arguments in its favor. Jane does it.
  • Jane feels Charlotte can have some regard for him. Elizabeth cannot. Mr. Collins is pompous, silly, narrow-minded. To Jane, such a husband is not unacceptable whereas to Elizabeth it is unthinkable. No one except Mary would long for a husband in Collins, but Lydia, Kitty and Jane can be persuaded to have him.

"To oblige you, I would try to believe almost anything, but no one else could be benefited by such a belief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him, I should only think worse of her understanding than I now do of her heart. My dear Jane, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man: you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who marries him cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it is Charlotte Lucas. You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger security for happiness."

47
  • Elizabeth says selfishness cannot be prudence, etc. There is a great truth here, which Elizabeth cannot know. It is the power of human choice. Life responds according to the choice. Elizabeth chooses the right and is rewarded by Darcy. Charlotte has no strength, she chooses insensibility of danger. Collins answers
  • No law can be changed for the sake of one individual. Elizabeth cannot do it except under pressure. After Wickham eloped with Lydia, he is a desirable husband for her if pressed by circumstances. She would do it and ask all others to forget the past.
  • Prudence is selfishness in small characters. She is no exception to it after longing for Pemberley.

"I must think your language too strong in speaking of both," replied Jane; "and I hope you will be convinced of it by seeing them happy together. But enough of this. You alluded to something else. You mentioned two instances. I cannot misunderstand you, but I intreat you, dear Lizzy, not to pain me by thinking that person to blame, and saying your opinion of him is sunk. We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded and circumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Woman fancy admiration means more than it does."

51
  • Jane would not even approve of strong language. They will be happy together. Jane goes by the result, not the motives.
  • Nor does Jane desire any more of this discussion. Even the thought disturbs her.
  • Jane is a fool to expect them to be happy together
  • Even in Elizabeth’s opinion, Jane does not want him sunk. It is a decision of the subtle mind.
  • Jane gives all the benefit of doubt to all others except herself. This is neutral other man’s point of view.

24 jane Pride and Prejudice

"And men take care that they should."

60
  • Elizabeth’s understanding is perceptive extending to shrewdness. Perception is desirable, not shrewdness. Perception without shrewdness is mental power. It can achieve.

"If it is designedly done, they cannot be justified; but I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine."

61
  • Jane is unable to see men can be scheming.

"I am far from attributing any part of Mr. Bingley's conduct to design," said Elizabeth; "but without scheming to do wrong, or to make others unhappy, there may be error, and there may be misery. Thoughtlessness, want of attention to other people's feelings, and want of resolution, will do the business."

62
  • Elizabeth too endeavours in her mind not to injure Bingley. This keeps the door in the subtle plane open for him to return.

"And do you impute it to either of those?'

64

"Yes; to the last. But if I go on, I shall displease you by saying what I think of persons you esteem. Stop me whilst you can."

65
  • More than the description, Elizabeth is keen in not hurting Jane.
  • Not hurting the other is a sure way of accomplishment than explaining more fully.

"You persist, then, in supposing his sisters influence him."

68
  • Jane cannot conceive of a scheme.
  • Till she is disabused on this score, her door remained shut.

"Yes, in conjunction with his friend."

69

"I cannot believe it. Why should they try to influence him? They can only wish his happiness; and if he is attached to me, no other woman can secure it."

70
  • Jane needs an explainable motive, explainable to her naiveté. Her refusing to organise suspicion is her strength. It can also become a weakness.
  • Jane takes for granted sisterly affection.
  • She overlooks human malice, feminine jealousy.
  • Jane assumes that his sisters will only want his happiness. Jane attributes only right motives to his sisters, taking herself out of the picture. This is pure goodness, goodness out of incomprehension. She could not attribute unpardonable motives to his sisters. Life is not that straight. Each has her own motive, not necessarily good
  • Man not only does not see jealousy in others, he does not see it in himself sometimes.
  • Some critics accuse Jane Austen of a fairly tale ending. The basis of the story, whether Austen is aware or not, is the shadow of the French Revolution. England had gone through the Revolution in 1688 and now there was a possibility of escaping a repetition of the French Revolution on English soil. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth is an evolutionary expression of the Revolutionary vibration. Its effects were Darcy marrying Elizabeth in preference to the property of Lady Catherine, breaking of the sacred conventions of marriage by society accepting Lydia’s elopement before the wedding and Darcy, the aristocrat appreciating the individuality of the neo-rich Bingley in marrying a girl from a low family. All this begins with the disillusionment of Jane with Bingley’s sisters and Elizabeth accepting the real capacity of Bingley for not being independent and devoid of conscience. Elizabeth seeks wealth, though it is shameful and she gets it. There are three reversals

1) Jane’s disillusionment with Caroline (p.132)
2) Elizabeth’s self awareness that she is from a family of low consciousness (p.185)
3) Mr. Bennet’s decision to repay Mr. Gardiner at any cost

  • It is Mrs. Bennet’s family until Lydia ran away. Mr. Bennet never exercised his authority, he was an English husband. Had he continued that way Lydia would have come upon the town and Wickham would have gone away to the colonies. Mr. Bennet shakes off the external politeness of the British husband and becomes an individual. He takes full responsibility for his action. It is time for him to assert decency and stop shameless dissipation. He declares no officer should enter his house or even the village. That decision gains substance in his resolution to pay back Gardiner. It reverses the course of his 25 year married life. There is no question of his comforting his wife who was parading her misfortune, no question of extending compassion in her elopement, no question of being cultural or social. He must emerge as an INDIVIDUAL and he did.
  • Jane emphasizes absence of malice in the world. Elizabeth, not wanting to offend her, mitigates the sin of the malicious to impersonal sources offending persons unintentionally. The sisters are sensitive to each other’s feelings. The subject becomes a buried chapter between them, even the name of Bingley

"Your first position is false. They may wish many things besides his happiness; they may wish his increase of wealth and consequence; they may wish him to marry a girl who has all the importance of money, great connexions, and pride."

73
  • Elizabeth says, “Your first position is false.” She must have said, “Your position is partial and false for that reason.”
  • All the reasons Elizabeth attributes are not there in that case.
  • Caroline wants to prevent Darcy from Elizabeth which she is not aware of.
  • To the sisters, Miss Darcy is no issue; to prevent Elizabeth is the issue.

"Beyond a doubt they do wish him to chuse Miss Darcy," replied Jane; "but this may be from better feelings than you are supposing. They have known her much longer than they have known me: no wonder if they love her better. But, whatever may be their own wishes, it is very unlikely they should have opposed their brother's. What sister would think herself at liberty to do it, unless there were something very objectionable? If they believed him attached to me, they would not try to part us; if he were so, they could not succeed. By supposing such an affection, you make everybody acting unnaturally and wrong, and me most unhappy. Do not distress me by the idea. I am not ashamed of having been mistaken -- or, at least, it is slight, it is nothing in comparison of what I should feel in thinking ill of him or his sisters. Let me take it in the best light, in the light in which it may be understood."

75
  • It never occurs to Jane, that she could be objectionable to them
  • Not even one in the family who aspires for a high alliance is aware that the family is low.
  • Jane feels they would not part them if they saw the attachment. The truth is they would certainly do so only because of the attachment.
  • Bingley is in the scheme of things only as a subplot, not a part of the main plot.
  • To be mistaken is a shame for Jane.
  • She is all the time mistaken in all things.
  • Still she marries because in her position she is perfect.
  • Jane wants it in the best light which is nowhere.
  • The best light in practice is not mentioning Bingley’s name.

Elizabeth could not oppose such a wish; and from this time Mr. Bingley's name was scarcely ever mentioned between them. 24 jane elizabeth Pride and Prejudice

84

Mrs. Bennet still continued to wonder and repine at his returning no more, and though a day seldom passed in which Elizabeth did not account for it clearly, there seemed little chance of her ever considering it with less perplexity. Her daughter endeavoured to convince her of what she did not believe herself, that his attentions to Jane had been merely the effect of a common and transient liking, which ceased when he saw her no more; but though the probability of the statement was admitted at the time, she had the same story to repeat every day. Mrs. Bennet's best comfort was that Mr. Bingley must be down again in the summer.

85
  • Mrs. Bennet does believe that the world should behave as she wishes. She continues to wonder and repine.
  • The physical doubts when it thinks, has absolutely no doubt when it lives.
  • Elizabeth explains to her mother what she does not believe herself, that Bingley was not serious in his romance. No wonder Mrs. Bennet is unable to believe it.
  • Mental stupidity’s psychological version is an undefined unreasonable hope
  • The physical says “out of sight, out of mind” except when it wants.

Bingley forgets Jane.

Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough at Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." 24 mrb Pride and Prejudice

88
  • Mr. Bennet is a wounded bird. Its flying will not be graceful. His marriage has ruined his happiness. She is a constant reminder of his disappointment. On top of that she has her way. In his case, his psychological survival is secured by his petulant petty sarcasm. It is that which made him not run away and commit suicide. In his ironic wisdom that is mocking sarcasm, one sees his pent up force finding its release. Such a force can only be negative and mean. He is not free to tell the children that the mother’s pushy boisterousness spoiled Jane’s chances. Therefore, he, as an alternative, speaks the truth of satisfaction in being crossed in love. To mitigate Jane’s disappointment, he brings in Wickham’s jilting Elizabeth. At this stage, he has no perception of the rogue in Wickham. His words come true. Words spoken in a high moment without premeditation do come true. Elizabeth takes this occasion to pay Wickham the highest possible compliment, which sounds to her lover’s yearning heart pleasantly
  • Mr. Bennet is indelicate or even insensitive when he congratulates Jane in being crossed in love.
  • He knows she is trying for a foolish boy, as he had done in his case.
  • Being crossed in love is the opposite of being fulfilled in love.
  • He suggests Wickham would jilt her which happens.
  • He never has a good word for anyone.

"Thank you, sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We must not all expect Jane's good fortune."

99
  • Even then, Elizabeth can only think of high praise for Wickham.
  • Elizabeth would be satisfied with a less agreeable man. She did get a less agreeable man in Darcy but he tried to be more agreeable than the most amiable apart from bringing his wealth. As she spoke not in sarcasm or defiance but from a sense of realism, her words became true in an abundant measure

"True," said Mr. Bennet, "but it is a comfort to think that whatever of that kind may befall you, you have an affectionate mother who will always make the most of it."

101
  • To Mr. Bennet, every family circumstance is an occasion for a dig at his wife.

Mr. Wickham's society was of material service in dispelling the gloom which the late perverse occurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family. They saw him often, and to his other recommendations was now added that of general unreserve. The whole of what Elizabeth had already heard, his claims on Mr. Darcy, and all that he had suffered from him, was now openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed; and everybody was pleased to think how much they had always disliked Mr. Darcy before they had known anything of the matter.

102
  • Occurrences are perverse, meetings are perverse because Man is perverse.
  • It is the negative prelude for later developments.
  • What Man defines as peace of Mind is a relaxed dissipation. In behaviour Man is at ease when he frankly without reserve runs down everyone. The absence of civilised restraint is described by him as peace of Mind. The distress created by the desertion of Bingley is relieved by the pleasant presence of the handsome face of Wickham. He is gratified by running down Darcy to his heart’s content. A subtle knowledge will perceive this indulgence in infamy as the predecessor of the elopement
  • Wickham’s general unreserve, instead of exposing him, serves as a comfort. It is the character of liking that passes for love.
  • It never struck Elizabeth that in speaking to the public about Darcy, Wickham is acting exactly opposite to his own declaration.
  • Blind partiality is a sign of vital identification. She adores him exactly for this.
  • In spite of this scandal, in spite of deserting in favour of Miss King, he remains her model young man of amiability and agreeableness.
  • No handsome face by itself is fascinating.
  • When it is the face of falsehood, it is captivating.

Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any extenuating circumstances in the case, unknown to the society of Hertfordshire; her mild and steady candour always pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes -- but by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.

105
  • Miss Bennet is an exception, not in adoring Wickham, but in not condemning Darcy.
  • Jane exhibits a strength here to stand alone.
  • It is characteristic of Jane not to be part of it. In spite of evident foolishness, it is a positive characteristic. At last, her surmises that there are unknown extenuating circumstances become true. Conscious positive thinking constantly is a rare virtue. It gives her the result and is the cause of the greater wider result for the family

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