Icon.gif Icon.gif

This commentary was prepared by Karmayogi of The Mother’s Service Society (India). See 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.

Home l About this Project l Articles Index l Story l Text & Commentary l Video Clips


It was the second week in May, in which the three young ladies set out together from Gracechurch Street for the town of -- -- , in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the appointed inn where Mr. Bennet's carriage was to meet them, they quickly perceived, in token of the coachman's punctuality, both Kitty and Lydia looking out of a dining-room upstairs. These two girls had been above an hour in the place, happily employed in visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard, and dressing a salad and cucumber.

  • In England of those days, even the coachmen were punctual.
  • Punctuality is a social discipline. The mind of the society should have accepted that value.
  • Punctuality can do to an unorganized nation as much as excellent food can do to a starving man.
  • English life has become mental by becoming time conscious.
  • The story starts here dwelling on Lydia’s wildness more pronouncedly

39 lydia Pride and Prejudice

After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such cold meat as an inn larder usually affords, exclaiming, "Is not this nice? Is not this an agreeable surprise?"

  • Mr. Bennet’s family is always happy and cheerful.
  • The happiness is the result of the combination of the father’s freedom and the mother’s energy.
  • Meryton, though not an ideally good people, does not seem to be vicious or malicious. There is no streak of venomousness.

"And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia; "but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there." Then, shewing her purchases -- "Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better."

  • Mr. Bennet is the product of freedom given by property.
  • He is the expression of well fed energy untamed by any information that is socially useful.
  • The fact that a venomous person like Wickham could not do lasting damage to the inmates there confirms this view.
  • Wickham’s evil doings are motivated more by his personal gain which is pardonable than by an evil desire to hurt the other.

And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, "Oh! But there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable. Besides, it will not much signify what one wears this summer, after the -- -- shire have left Meryton, and they are going in a fortnight."

  • The moment Elizabeth’s mind is disillusioned about Wickham, the whole regiment is leaving Meryton. It did not happen already before she returned in which case it would mean she became bitter about Wickham, but it permits her to meet him and take leave of him. In that measure, her solicitude is there.

"Are they indeed!" Cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satisfaction.


"They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such a delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost anything at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!"

  • Evil forces, hostile forces coming through falsehood will not part without hurting. It is called the parting shot. Solicitude for any reason will make the damage lasting into a tragedy.

"Yes," thought Elizabeth, "that would be a delightful scheme indeed, and completely do for us at once. Good Heaven! Brighton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of Meryton."


"Now I have got some news for you," said Lydia, as they sat down at table. "What do you think? It is excellent news -- capital news -- and about a certain person that we all like."


Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other, and the waiter was told that he need not stay. Lydia laughed, and said -- "Ay, that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought the waiter must not hear, as if he cared! I dare say he often hears worse things said than I am going to say. But he is an ugly fellow! I am glad he is gone. I never saw such a long chin in my life. Well, but now for my news; it is about dear Wickham; too good for the waiter, is not it? There is no danger of Wickham's marrying Mary King. There's for you! She is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool: gone to stay. Wickham is safe."

  • It is significant that Lydia takes up Wickham after Elizabeth dropped him.
  • At the first meeting it was Lydia and Elizabeth who met him.
  • Charlotte was the one missing when all the four men met the ladies on the road. She was the first to be married.
  • Elizabeth took silent initiative to make Wickham talk.
  • The only one who had the energy for initiative other than Lizzy was Lydia. So she eloped with him.
  • Wickham silently developed a sense of revenge the moment he was exposed by Darcy.
  • Note the name Wickham is too much on her tongue.
  • It is best we see the all the characters, all the events as ONE single movement of varying intensities even opposing forces, but the whole is an indivisible ONE.
  • Elizabeth dropped Wickham from her thoughts, his opportunity of Miss King is lost.
  • Mother says our interest in others, even in our enemies, expands their lives and opportunities in it.
  • Lydia laughs at the formality of the elder sisters in asking the waiter to go, a subtle hint of life of what Lydia was going to do with the news she has brought.
  • Lydia calls him ‘dear Wickham’, the first such mention of his name in the story. Is this the only time dear is used in mentioned his name?

"And Mary King is safe!" Added Elizabeth; "safe from a connexion imprudent as to fortune."

  • “Wickham is safe” “Miss King is safe” show the change of Elizabeth’s attitude

"She is a great fool for going away, if she liked him."


"But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side," said Jane.


"I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it, he never cared three straws about her -- who could about such a nasty little freckled thing?"


Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had formerly harboured and fancied liberal!

  • It is an act of sincerity in Elizabeth to acknowledge to herself the coarseness of her own sentiment.
  • The difference between Lydia and Elizabeth is only in manners.
  • Elizabeth, who sees the coarseness of Lydia’s expressions, finds the same in her feelings. That is her contribution to the family breakdown

39 inn Pride and Prejudice

As soon as all had ate, and the elder ones paid, the carriage was ordered; and after some contrivance, the whole party, with all their boxes, workbags, and parcels, and the unwelcome addition of Kitty's and Lydia's purchases, were seated in it.


"How nicely we are crammed in!" Cried Lydia. "I am glad I bought my bonnet, if it is only for the fun of having another bandbox! Well, now let us be quite comfortable and snug, and talk and laugh all the way home. And in the first place, let us hear what has happened to you all, since you went away. Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almost three-and-twenty! Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three-and-twenty! My aunt Philips wants you so to get husbands, you can't think. She says Lizzy had better have taken Mr. Collins; but I do not think there would have been any fun in it. Lord! How I should like to be married before any of you! And then I would chaperon you about to all the balls. Dear me! We had such a good piece of fun the other day at Colonel Forster's. Kitty and me were to spend the day there, and Mrs. Forster promised to have a little dance in the evening (by the bye, Mrs. Forster and me are such friends!); and so she asked the two Harringtons to come, but Harriet was ill, and so Pen was forced to come by herself; and then, what do you think we did? We dressed up Chamberlayne in woman's clothes on purpose to pass for a lady -- only think what fun! Not a soul knew of it, but Colonel and Mrs. Forster, and Kitty and me, except my aunt, for we were forced to borrow one of her gowns; and you cannot imagine how well he looked! When Denny, and Wickham, and Pratt, and two or three more of the men came in, they did not know him in the least. Lord! How I laughed! And so did Mrs. Forster. I thought I should have died. And that made the men suspect something, and then they soon found out what was the matter."

  • Lydia is physical.
  • ‘Dear Wickham’ “She is a fool to go away if she liked him” “Have you met men?” “Jane will soon be an old maid”, all put together shows in which direction her mind is moving, perhaps without her knowing it.

With such kind of histories of their parties and good jokes, did Lydia, assisted by Kitty's hints and additions, endeavour to amuse her companions all the way to Longbourn. Elizabeth listened as little as she could, but there was no escaping the frequent mention of Wickham's name.

  • Frequent mentioning of Wickham’s name – the first sure sign of future elopement

Their reception at home was most kind. Mrs. Bennet rejoiced to see Jane in undiminished beauty; and more than once during dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily to Elizabeth --

  • Jane’s heart is not really touched.
  • Mr. Bennet has his mind on Lizzy.
  • “Jane in undiminished beauty”. Jane’s heart is untouched and that is why her beauty is undiminished

"I am glad you are come back, Lizzy."


Their party in the dining-room was large, for almost all the Lucases came to meet Maria and hear the news: and various were the subjects which occupied them: Lady Lucas was enquiring of Maria, across the table, after the welfare and poultry of her eldest daughter; Mrs. Bennet was doubly engaged, on one hand collecting an account of the present fashions from Jane, who sat some way below her, and, on the other, retailing them all to the younger Miss Lucases; and Lydia, in a voice rather louder than any other person's, was enumerating the various pleasures of the morning to anybody who would hear her.

  • The Lucas family is proud of Mr. Collins.
  • Charlotte’s mother enquires about the poultry!
  • Her mind, like that of Mr. Bennet, was on it.
  • Lydia’s voice was louder.
  • Something in her was ready for action.
  • Charlotte’s mother asks after the poultry of her eldest daughter, thus revealing the level of mind she possesses

39 longbourn Pride and Prejudice

"Oh! Mary," said she, "I wish you had gone with us, for we had such fun! As we went along, Kitty and me drew up all the blinds, and pretended there was nobody in the coach; and I should have gone so all the way, if Kitty had not been sick; and when we got to the George, I do think we behaved very handsomely, for we treated the other three with the nicest cold luncheon in the world, and if you would have gone we would have treated you too. And then, when we came away, it was such fun! I thought we never should have got into the coach. I was ready to die of laughter. And then we were so merry all the way home! We talked and laughed so loud, that anybody might have heard us ten miles off!"

  • Lydia asks Mary to appreciate her dynamism.
  • This is the subtle anticipation of her elopement.
  • The description of Lydia of how they travelled is clearly her celebrating her ‘future adventure’ so that people at ten miles off will applaud.

To this Mary very gravely replied, "Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me -- I should infinitely prefer a book."

  • It is not entirely out of preference to read. She is noticed by no one. So, she had found an occupation.
  • Between the physically developed energies of the younger girls and the mentally developed character of the elder one is Mary, who exhibits the physical application to a mental occupation without being able to digest it.

But of this answer Lydia heard not a word. She seldom listened to anybody for more than half a minute, and never attended to Mary at all.


In the afternoon Lydia was urgent with the rest of the girls to walk to Meryton, and see how everybody went on; but Elizabeth steadily opposed the scheme. It should not be said that the Miss Bennets could not be at home half a day before they were in pursuit of the officers. There was another reason, too, for her opposition. She dreaded seeing Wickham again, and was resolved to avoid it as long as possible. The comfort to her, of the regiment's approaching removal was indeed beyond expression. In a fortnight they were to go -- and once gone, she hoped there could be nothing more to plague her on his account.

  • As long as her mind is on Wickham, the forces maintained an equilibrium there. The moment she withdraws the mind, the equilibrium is sought at the physical level – she elopes.
  • Withdrawing the interest outwardly does not put an end to the movement.
  • Elizabeth has definitely changed her mind towards Wickham and that directly leads to the militia moving from there to Brighton
  • Elizabeth has changed her mind, but not lost her charm for Wickham. She would like to take leave of him. That is why the militia waits for her to come

She had not been many hours at home before she found that the Brighton scheme, of which Lydia had given them a hint at the inn, was under frequent discussion between her parents. Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest intention of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal, that her mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.

  • Within hours of the decision NOT to do anything with Wickham anymore, news of the Brighton scheme came
  • The link is there; she has snapped on the surface, the rest has to be gone through
  • Her father is as equivocal as she is unwilling to expose Wickham

<< First l < Previous l Text & Commentary l Brief Summary l Detailed Summary l Next > l Last >>
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Icon.gif Icon.gif