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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 55

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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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A few days after this visit Mr. Bingley called again, and alone. His friend had left him that morning for London, but was to return home in ten days' time. He sat with them above an hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited him to dine with them; but, with many expressions of concern, he confessed himself engaged elsewhere.

1
  • Darcy’s mind is made up. He must now speak to Bingley.
  • That takes time. After speaking Bingley needs Time to act.
  • Time is needed to convert a thought accepted into an act.
  • Mrs. Bennet’s active initiative to leave Bingley alone with Jane is too true an atmosphere in which a proposal can issue.
  • Bingley needs that freedom of ten days to act on his own after Darcy sanctions. That is his personality.

55 horse Pride and Prejudice

"Next time you call," said she, "I hope we shall be more lucky."

5

He should be particularly happy at any time, etc. etc., and if she would give him leave, would take an early opportunity of waiting on them.

6

"Can you come to-morrow?"

7
  • Her pressure is unrelenting – It is ugly, awkward.
  • A weak Bingley needs that much pressure to act.

Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted with alacrity.

8

He came, and in such very good time that the ladies were none of them dressed. In ran Mrs. Bennet to her daughters' room, in her dressing-gown, and with her hair half-finished, crying out, "My dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come -- Mr. Bingley is come -- he is, indeed. Make haste, make haste. Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her on with her gown. Never mind Miss Lizzy's hair."

9
  • Their not being dressed, not being ready shows.
    • Bingley’s impatience.
    • The work will not be completed that day
  • Haste will not accomplish.
  • Bingley came alone with the sanction of Darcy. He returned the next day. Mrs. Bennet tried all her tricks. They did not work. Mrs. Bennet was unable to restrain herself. The rule is such an initiative will fail which it does. As the atmosphere is very rich and the characters and events are in quadrant No. I, overcoming Mrs. Bennet’s unseemly initiative, Bingley proposed. The awkwardness, the confusion, the vulgarity and the delicacy of the proposal are a full faithful portrait of their home
  • This page of organised confusion is equal only to her lamentations when Lydia ran away. She behaves as the daughter of an attorney, not the wife of a gentleman. Kitty who coughs in the beginning of the story to her vexation now pricks her bubble of winking at her. Maybe this is the most indelicate scene at home in the presence of a stranger.
  • Bingley has came determined to propose. The obvious devices made him feel awkward and he was unable to propose. Mrs. Bennet was aware of the physical need for privacy for the lovers. There was no sensitivity in her to feel that the lovers needed an ease of atmosphere to take to each other.
  • Elizabeth’s excessive expectation of Bingley’s proposal is almost as overt as Mrs. Bennet’s taking Kitty and Elizabeth away. Modesty is in manners, not in behaviour. In behaviour Elizabeth is aggressive. The whole of Meryton is watching Bingley and Jane. The cultured restraint is not there, not to speak of culture. Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth as well as Caroline are forward or aggressive in waiting for a proposal. None of them are like Agnes whose love David was not aware of. The feminine modesty in character is seen in Agnes

55 bingley Pride and Prejudice

"We will be down as soon as we can," said Jane; "but I dare say Kitty is forwarder than either of us, for she went up stairs half an hour ago."

14

"Oh! Hang Kitty! What has she to do with it? Come, be quick, be quick! Where is your sash my dear?"

15
  • Jane would not be prevailed on to go without a sister.
    • She sticks to her position.

But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to go down without one of her sisters.

20

The same anxiety to get them by themselves, was visible again in the evening. After tea Mr. Bennet retired to the library, as was his custom, and Mary went upstairs to her instrument. Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a considerable time, without making any impression on them. Elizabeth would not observe her; and when at last Kitty did, she very innocently said, "What is the matter, mama? What do you keep winking at me for? What am I to do?"

21
  • Again the same anxiety was there.
    • Sign of incomplete accomplishment.
  • Mrs. Bennet ‘winking’
    • It is the equivalent of her asking Bingley ‘Now you can propose’.


"Nothing, child, nothing. I did not wink at you."

27

She then sat still five minutes longer; but, unable to waste such a precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty, "Come here, my love, I want to speak to you," took her out of the room. Jane instantly gave a look at Elizabeth, which spoke her distress at such premeditation, and her intreaty that she would not give in to it.

29

In a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet half-opened the door and called out, "Lizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you."

31

Elizabeth was forced to go. "We may as well leave them by themselves, you know," said her mother, as soon as she was in the hall. "Kitty and I are going upstairs to sit in my dressing-room."

32
  • Elizabeth does not reason with her mother.
    • Her mother is action, no reasoning will reach her.

Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but remained quietly in the hall till she and Kitty were out of sight, then returned into the drawing-room.

35

Mrs. Bennet's schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley was everything that was charming, except the professed lover of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered him a most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all her silly remarks, with a forbearance and command of countenance particularly grateful to the daughter.

36
  • The absence of mentioning Mr. Bennet at the dinner is significant. It can admit of any interpretation.
    • Mrs. Bennet took things in her own hands.
    • Now that Darcy’s sanction is there, the force begins to act. Mr. Bennet’s indolence does not permit its mentioning.
    • Elizabeth, Jane, Bingley, Mrs. Bennet have no time to think of him. So does the author.
    • Unless his role is subordinate his desire to thwart his wife will take shape.
    • The reader too forgets him as he is not in the mainstream of events.
  • On August 15, 1947 Gandhiji was not there in the Independence Day celebration. He was elsewhere. Life does not allow such luxuries as they can spoil the work.
  • An engagement was formed for the next day chiefly through Bingley.
    • Now he has decided to act.

He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he went away, an engagement was formed, chiefly through his own and Mrs. Bennet's means, for his coming next morning to shoot with her husband.

39

After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference. Not a word passed between the sisters concerning Bingley; but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded that all this must have taken place with that gentleman's concurrence.

40

Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet spent the morning together, as had been agreed on. The latter was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley, that could provoke his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more communicative and less eccentric than the other had ever seen him. Bingley of course returned with him to dinner; and in the evening Mrs. Bennet's invention was again at work to get everybody away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a letter to write, went into the breakfast-room for that purpose soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to cards, she could not be wanted to counteract her mother's schemes.

43
  • Mrs. Bennet’s invention was again at work.
    • The value of a method is true.
    • It reveals itself as a useful tool.
    • It becomes a bar when more is to be achieved.
    • It can assert its role by wanting to accomplish and then it does not make the maximum result into minimum.
    • To use a method to our best advantage, it must be used fully to accomplish a small goal.
    • In great goals, the method must be exhausted to prepare the field the best.
  • Her mother has been too ingenious for her.
  • Energy exerting at its height develops an ingenuity not in its constitution.
  • Mr. Bennet appears in the story only on the third visit of the lover. Bingley’s patience and sensitivity were exhausted by Mrs. Bennet. He proposes the next day. The first to know is Elizabeth. By her dedication to the project she deserves to be told first. It is to her mother Jane goes next. The whole thing was done by the express sanction of Darcy. Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth and Mrs Bennet is the order in which the proposal is communicated. Mrs Bennet’s fervour is seen overtly but it to Mr. Bennet the news goes first. In Darcy’s case he proposed that morning. News was divulged only the next morning to Mr. Bennet apart from Jane’s hearing it that night. Life’s rules overcome social propriety or accommodate it. Mr. Bennet’s interest and responsibility for the proposal, by this measure, seems to be greater than that of his wife. Even to congratulate Jane, he waits for Bingley to go, though Bingley told him of it. Darcy’s engagement had no smooth sailing. It met with resistances from the sister and father. People come to know of the result in the measure of their interest is a rule that cannot be overlooked

55 jane happy Pride and Prejudice

But on returning to the drawing-room when her letter was finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise, there was reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for her. On opening the door she perceived her sister and Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away from each other, would have told it all. Their situation was awkward enough; but hers, she thought, was still worse. Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on the point of going away again, when Bingley, who as well as the other had sat down, suddenly rose, and whispering a few words to her sister, ran out of the room.

48
  • It is Mrs. Bennet’s assertive awkwardness.
  • The mother is in her by her own reaction.
  • He is immature, unformed, acts under orders.

Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth where confidence would give pleasure; and instantly embracing her, acknowledged with the liveliest emotion that she was the happiest creature in the world.

52
  • She waited for long. Now it is overwhelming.

"'Tis too much!" She added -- "by far too much. I do not deserve it. Oh! Why is not everybody as happy!"

53

Elizabeth's congratulations were given with a sincerity, a warmth, a delight, which words could but poorly express. Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane. But she would not allow herself to stay with her sister, or say half that remained to be said, for the present.

57
  • To Jane the mother is the Reality.

"I must go instantly to my mother," she cried; "I would not on any account trifle with her affectionate solicitude; or allow her to hear it from any one but myself. He is gone to my father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate will give such pleasure to all my dear family! How shall I bear so much happiness!"

60
  • Events when they happen happen fast.

She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken up the card-party, and was sitting upstairs with Kitty.

65

Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity and ease with which an affair was finally settled, that had given them so many previous months of suspense and vexation.

66
  • It certainly is reasonable to her.

"And this," said she, "is the end of all his friend's anxious circumspection! Of all his sister's falsehood and contrivance! -- the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!"

67
  • “And this” said she, “is the end of all his friend’s anxious circumspection! Of all his sister’s falsehood and contrivance! The happiest wisest, most ……” The proposal pleases Elizabeth. She is untouched by the ugly quirks of her mother. Nor is she vexed by the fact that Bingley is a spineless character. All that she wants is Jane’s happiness. She does not see she is as mercenary as Charlotte only the method is different. All is well that ends well. (People who are self-righteous in a life context will be as guilty or false as those who are directly false. It is the character of life.) Life is a field not of truth, but of falsehood. So, one cannot insist on one’s truth without being guilty of protesting too much

55 happy Pride and Prejudice

In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference with her father had been short and to the purpose.

70

"Where is your sister?" Said he hastily, as he opened the door.

71
  • The paragraphs on this page beginning with “He then shut the door….’ And ending with ‘…how really happy he was” fully express in terms of emotional reality what the family really is. The truth of this was won by passing through the ordeals of the break brought about by the departure of Bingley’s family.
  • To study the developments of friendship, of opportunity, break by intrusion, reconciliation by its withdrawal, though this is the subplot, will introduce us to the spirit of the story.
  • Still, the rules of accomplishment fully emerge here.

"With my mother upstairs. She will be down in a moment, I dare say."

72

He then shut the door, and coming up to her, claimed the good wishes and affection of a sister. Elizabeth honestly and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their relationship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and then, till her sister came down, she had to listen to all he had to say of his own happiness, and of Jane's perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding and superexcellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself.

74

It was an evening of no common delight to them all. The satisfaction of Miss Bennet's mind gave a glow of such sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer than ever. Kitty simpered and smiled, and hoped her turn was coming soon. Mrs. Bennet could not give her consent or speak her approbation in terms warm enough to satisfy her feelings, though she talked to Bingley of nothing else for half an hour; and when Mr. Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly shewed how really happy he was.

77
  • Not a word passed his lips till Bingley left.
  • It is a great cultured restraint. There is nothing amiss to congratulate Jane in the presence of the betrothed husband.
  • But he waited for the more fully enjoyed freedom of his absence.

Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till their visitor took his leave for the night; but as soon as he was gone, he turned to his daughter and said --

81

"Jane, I congratulate you. You will be a very happy woman."

82

Jane went to him instantly, kissed him, and thanked him for his goodness.

84

"You are a good girl," he replied, "and I have great pleasure in thinking you will be so happily settled. I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income."

85
  • Said pleasantly with full true knowledge of the boy and girl with the background of his wife’s extravagance.
  • Mr. Bennet’s perception about Jane and Bingley is true. He feels no issue will be resolved and their income will be exceeded. It is said in a humourous vein. Even then, it is indelicate. He should have chosen another positive expression. The British culture is not so mature

55 bennets Pride and Prejudice

"I hope not so. Imprudence or thoughtlessness in money matters would be unpardonable in me."

89
  • She says this of £ 10,000 also. It is her further ambition.

"Exceed their income! My dear Mr. Bennet," cried his wife, "what are you talking of? Why, he has four or five thousand a year, and very likely more." Then addressing her daughter, "Oh! My dear, dear Jane, I am so happy, I am sure I sha'nt get a wink of sleep all night. I knew how it would be. I always said it must be so at last. I was sure you could not be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever I saw him, when he first came into Hertfordshire last year, I thought how likely it was that you should come together. Oh! He is the handsomest young man that ever was seen!"

91
  • Great joy as deep sorrow robs one of sleep.
  • She wants all her thoughts to become true.
  • Her own beauty is celebrated in the daughter.

Wickham, Lydia, were all forgotten. Jane was beyond competition her favourite child. At that moment she cared for no other. Her younger sisters soon began to make interest with her for objects of happiness which she might in future be able to dispense.

102
  • Elizabeth engaging Bingley and Jane in the absence of the other really serves as an emotional bridge.

Mary petitioned for the use of the library at Netherfield; and Kitty begged very hard for a few balls there every winter.

106
  • Bingley refraining from exposing Darcy is one acme of human touches. The wisdom of Elizabeth’s refraining from giving that news is now seen.

Bingley, from this time, was of course a daily visitor at Longbourn -- coming frequently before breakfast, and always remaining till after supper -- unless when some barbarous neighbour, who could not be enough detested, had given him an invitation to dinner, which he thought himself obliged to accept.

107
  • Go about collecting in the story all such great touches of Life.

Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to bestow on any one else; but she found herself considerably useful to both of them, in those hours of separation that must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself to Elizabeth for the pleasure of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means of relief.

108
  • In the above instance it lies in refraining. The small significant acts all lie in this area, where you give one piece of information that makes a great thing possible is to be noted. Mrs. Gardiner’s warning of Wickham to Elizabeth will qualify for a secondary example. Find out such instances in your own life.

"He has made me so happy," said she one evening, "by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible."

110
  • Elizabeth telling Darcy about the elopement will be one such if there is not that heat of the moment. Maybe Darcy’s confidence in her about Georgiana serves the purpose.

"I suspected as much," replied Elizabeth. "But how did he account for it?"

112

"It must have been his sister's doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other."

114

"That is the most unforgiving speech," said Elizabeth, "that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley's pretended regard."

117
  • Weak men in life are to be spared such deficiencies if accomplishment is the aim. For transformation it is not.
  • Elizabeth was pleased that Bingley had not betrayed Darcy.
  • Here lies her maturity.

"Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?"

120

"He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty."

121
  • Jane’s good will issues out after her luck.

This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.

122

Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.

123
  • Happiness depends on temperament, not on luck
  • Bingley sparing Darcy of his ruse respects human nature. Darcy did not have that delicacy in his letter to Elizabeth. Maybe in Bingley it comes out of his weakness. Still it is culturally welcome

"I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!" Cried Jane. "Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!"

124
  • She talks of a Collins coming to her. Lady Catherine comes.
  • Good news spreads fast in a community of good will.
  • In a spiteful or jealous community, it won’t spread.

"If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time."

129
  • Elizabeth is petulant to say she would get a Collins. That brings in Lady Catherine. Maybe she is aware of Darcy being an aristocratic Collins.
  • Yesterday’s unluckiest, becomes today’s luckiest in public opinion. Public opinion never makes, it reflects a situation. If possible it will mar

The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could not be long a secret. Mrs. Bennet was privileged to whisper it to Mrs. Philips, and she ventured, without any permission, to do the same by all her neighbours in Meryton.

132

The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out for misfortune.

134

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