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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 32

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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 by herself the next morning, and writing to Jane, while Mrs. Collins and Maria were gone on business into the village, when she was startled by a ring at the door, the certain signal of a visitor. As she had heard no carriage, she thought it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine, and under that apprehension was putting away her half-finished letter that she might escape all impertinent questions, when the door opened, and to her very great surprise Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room.

1
  • As her mind goes to Jane in a movement of good will, Darcy comes.
  • The surprise is in both.
  • Both are united by one vibration.
  • Elizabeth was with Jane’s letters when Darcy called on her. Again when he proposed she was with Jane’s letters. In the wider scheme of things, Darcy cannot marry her until Jane marries Bingley
  • In those days, boys were allowed to meet girls alone in a room with the door shut but were not allowed to write letters to them. Nor could they hold their hands except in dances.

He seemed astonished too on finding her alone, and apologised for his intrusion by letting her know that he had understood all the ladies to be within.

3

They then sat down, and when her enquiries after Rosings were made, seemed in danger of sinking into total silence. It was absolutely necessary, therefore, to think of something, and in this emergence, recollecting when she had seen him last in Hertfordshire, and feeling curious to know what he would say on the subject of their hasty departure, she observed --

4
  • Elizabeth does most of the talking, not Darcy

32 duo Pride and Prejudice

"How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November, Mr. Darcy! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for, if I recollect right, he went but the day before. He and his sisters were well, I hope, when you left London."

6
  • Again, the conversation is begun by her.
  • Darcy, apart from shyness and lack of breeding, at this moment is too full of fervent emotions for her to speak.
  • She is unaware of it. Somewhere she senses it without her mind knowing it.

"Perfectly so, I thank you."

9

She found that she was to receive no other answer, and, after a short pause, added --

10
  • It is she who maintains the conversations.

"I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever returning to Netherfield again?"

11

"I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little of his time there in future. He has many friends, and he is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continually increasing."

12

"If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be better for the neighbourhood that he should give up the place entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family there. But, perhaps, Mr. Bingley did not take the house so much for the convenience of the neighbourhood as for his own, and we must expect him to keep or quit it on the same principle."

14

"I should not be surprised," said Darcy, "if he were to give it up as soon as any eligible purchase offers."

16

Elizabeth made no answer. She was afraid of talking longer of his friend; and, having nothing else to say, was now determined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.

17
  • Elizabeth was conscious of talking of Bingley more than necessary.
  • "I am not interested in an alternative marriage prospect for Jane, but merely in additional company," Elizabeth seems to say.
  • Her mind is so full of Jane that she dare not trespass.

He took the hint, and soon began with, "This seems a very comfortable house. Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford."

19

"I believe she did -- and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object."

21
  • Elizabeth reveals to Darcy that Collins is a valueless object.
  • The choice is not the man's alone, Elizabeth tells Darcy. She even hints that he has been refused by a wiser woman. She also implies that she would not consider a marriage proposal in a prudential light since it is not "wise" to do so.

"Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife." "Yes, indeed; his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible women who would have accepted him, or have made him happy if they had. My friend has an excellent understanding -- though I am not certain that I consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever did. She seems perfectly happy, however, and in a prudential light it is certainly a very good match for her."

22
  • Darcy knows the value of Charlotte.
  • Elizabeth acknowledges to him the true happiness of Charlotte which she doubted.

"It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends."

26
  • Fifty miles is easy distance for him, not for her.
  • The distance between Hunsford and Meryton brings them close to a topic, which Elizabeth embarrassingly understood to relate to Jane’s marriage. Darcy had in mind his own marriage, which will take Elizabeth to Pemberley

32 darcy Pride and Prejudice

"An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles."

27
  • Even on the topic of distance, she contradicts him.

"And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day's journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance."

29
  • He was thinking of her at Pemberley.

"I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match," cried Elizabeth. "I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family."

32

"It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Anything beyond the very neighbourhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far."

34

As he spoke there was a sort of smile which Elizabeth fancied she understood; he must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane and Netherfield, and she blushed as she answered --

36
  • While he was thinking of her, she was thinking of Jane.
  • She blushes for Jane too, but somewhere it has gone beyond Jane to her.

"I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near her family. The far and the near must be relative, and depend on many varying circumstances. Where there is fortune to make the expence of travelling unimportant, distance becomes no evil. But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins have a comfortable income, but not such a one as will allow of frequent journeys -- and I am persuaded my friend would not call herself near her family under less than half the present distance."

37

Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said, "You cannot have a right to such very strong local attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn."

42
  • Darcy draws his chair near her – a physical movement that represents the inner attachment.
  • Again he plainly tells her his intention of taking her to his place.

Elizabeth looked surprised. The gentleman experienced some change of feeling; he drew back his chair, took a newspaper from the table, and, glancing over it, said, in a colder voice --

44
  • He is awkward by the ill-breeding and intensity of emotion, she is awkward by ignorance of his mind and the perversity of the circumstances.

"Are you pleased with Kent?"

46

A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued, on either side calm and concise -- and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk. The tête-à-tête surprised them. Mr. Darcy related the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet, and after sitting a few minutes longer without saying much to anybody, went away.

47

"What can be the meaning of this?" Said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. "My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way."

50
  • Charlotte’s first diagnosis confirmed again is true. She renews it now, but is unable to reason with her own self.
  • If inner emotions do not express themselves in outer behaviour, this is an example of it.
  • It is here Charlotte tells Elizabeth that Darcy is in love with her. Her guess is right. Neither Charlotte nor Elizabeth can arrive at that conclusion by an analysis of facts. They are baffled. Darcy consciously tries nor to reveal his love for Elizabeth. True love takes on that appearance in strongly emotional characters as in others it seeks constant reference to the love. In another sense, this is necessary, as she has fallen for Wickham. It needs time and right circumstance for her to rally round. On his part, this is a period of gestation when he has to subconsciously overcome his objections to marrying her. Such a transition, we will see, requires not only time but also a compelling event of elopement and a painful confession of it to him on her part. Life removes the Gardiners when Elizabeth confesses her family’s shame to Darcy
  • (Caroline takes the whole party to London ostensibly to prevent Jane’s wedding with Bingley. Really, in her understanding the danger is from Elizabeth to her. By the end, we see how her initiative served the course of events. What Caroline does to suit her ideas does not suit Jane, Elizabeth, Bingley, Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Bennet, etc. but it does suit to shape the course of events, which we see at the end of the story. This phenomenon is known as ‘Man proposes, God disposes”. For Jane to marry Bingley there are several obstacles from the side every character. All of them are to be worked out. Caroline’s ruse served that purpose. 1) Bingley’s resentment in submissiveness must gain strength, which it does at Lambton; 2) Mrs. Bennet’s pushy initiatives must lose energy by losing hope totally. Also it was Lydia, being the last child who finds favour in Mrs. Bennet. So, Jane has to wait till her mother’s ambition of Lydia getting married is over; 3) Jane is under an illusion. She has to wait till she finds the duplicity of Caroline; 4) Elizabeth’s energy of conviction must work itself out; 5) Mr. Bennet is anxious that his wife’s efforts must meet with a fiasco)
  • Fitzwilliam has the best-informed mind, though not possessed of the captivating softness of Wickham. Captivating softness is more readily acquired while in falsehood. It is not so easy for truthful persons to aspire to captivate. Truth acquiring knowledge becomes goodness, acquiring power becomes strength. For a truthful person, captivating softness comes when he is also GOOD and strong
  • Fitzwilliam occasionally laughed at the stupidity of Darcy. Darcy is stiff because he is suppressing his inordinate pride. He is awkward because he is unable to speak, the heart being full. He wants to be with her and that in society renders him unsociable. One who is in love is obviously not meant to be sociable
  • Mercenary Charlotte spreads her schemes before her mind of marrying Elizabeth to Williams or Darcy so that Collins may rise in the Church.
  • Charlotte is a kind friend. She knows that if Mr. Bennet dies, it will be she and her husband who will evict the rest of the Bennet's from their home. Seeing them well settled would relieve her mind. She believes that Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth but is unsure if the strength of the attachment is enough for him to propose. She does try to alert Elizabeth to the possiblility. Elizabeth refuses to listen.

But when Elizabeth told of his silence, it did not seem very likely, even to Charlotte's wishes, to be the case; and after various conjectures, they could at last only suppose his visit to proceed from the difficulty of finding anything to do, which was the more probable from the time of year. All field sports were over. Within doors there was Lady Catherine, books, and a billiard-table, but gentlemen cannot be always within doors; and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the pleasantness of the walk to it, or of the people who lived in it, the two cousins found a temptation from this period of walking thither almost every day. They called at various times of the morning, sometimes separately, sometimes together, and now and then accompanied by their aunt. It was plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he had pleasure in their society, a persuasion which of course recommended him still more; and Elizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction in being with him, as well as by his evident admiration for her, of her former favourite George Wickham; and though, in comparing them, she saw there was less captivating softness in Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners, she believed he might have the best informed mind.

52
  • All their reasonings are right, conclusion is wrong.
  • His personality is awkward, his first comment is a blunder, his later caution is self-deceptive, his move for Bingley is injurious, his present urge fools him and makes him a pitiable victim to her merciless, vindictive revenge.
  • The Colonel’s more informed mind has no chance of charming her over the captivating softness of Wickham.

But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage it was more difficult to understand. It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice -- a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared really animated. Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel Fitzwilliam's occasionally laughing at his stupidity proved that he was generally different, which her own knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe this change the effect of love, and the object of that love her friend Eliza, she set herself seriously to work to find it out. She watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and whenever he came to Hunsford; but without much success. He certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. It was an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.

57
  • Darcy is seldom animated. He is glum.
  • He holds no fascination for her on any account.
  • Darcy is stupid. The Colonel laughs at him. He has no credentials for romantic charm except his pervasive all-engrossing emotions.
  • Again Charlotte’s surmises are in the right direction.

She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to press the subject, from the danger of raising expectations which might only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt, that all her friend's dislike would vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power.

65
  • Not to raise impossible expectations is not only great wisdom but a deep good will in Charlotte.

In her kind schemes for Elizabeth she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the pleasantest man; he certainly admired her, and his situation in life was most eligible; but, to counterbalance these advantages, Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church, and his cousin could have none at all. 32 charlotte Pride and Prejudice

66
  • Darcy is too far away from any possibility of matchmaking for Charlotte.

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