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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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The discomposure of spirits which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into could not be easily overcome, nor could she for many hours, learn to think of it less than incessantly. Lady Catherine, it appeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings for the sole purpose of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was a rational scheme, to be sure! But from what the report of their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding made everybody eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herself forgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours at Lucas Lodge, therefore (for through their communication with the Collinses the report, she concluded, had reached Lady Catherine), had only set that down as almost certain and immediate, which she had looked forward to as possible, at some future time.

1
  • The great joy of p.308 (after Bingley proposes to Jane) is not supported by the atmosphere.
  • The speculation of this rumour gives life to the wedding.
  • Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine how the report started.
  • Surely she is totally alien to gossiping.

57 elizabeth Pride and Prejudice

In revolving Lady Catherine's expressions, however, she could not help feeling some uneasiness as to the possible consequence of her persisting in this interference. From what she had said of her resolution to prevent their marriage, it occurred to Elizabeth that she must meditate an application to her nephew; and how he might take a similar representation of the evils attached to a connexion with her, she dared not pronounce. She knew not the exact degree of his affection for his aunt, or his dependence on her judgment, but it was natural to suppose that he thought much higher of her ladyship than she could do; and it was certain that, in enumerating the miseries of a marriage with one whose immediate connexions were so unequal to his own, his aunt would address him on his weakest side. With his notions of dignity, he would probable feel that the arguments which to Elizabeth had appeared weak and ridiculous contained much good sense and solid reasoning.

7
  • His aunt would address him on the weakest side.
  • It is true however high a boy can marry a girl of low origin. It is equally true that such alliances can be broken on any flimsy reason. In Elizabeth’s case, the points at which the idea can be given up are too many. If it is to come up, it must be on the strength of something extraneous.
  • The value of romance lies here. A boy in love can never think of the possibility of its failure. Marriage is a social act. Both are in vastly different planes. The fulfillment of romance is apparently determined by the possibility of marriage. Even outside marriage, two people coming together is an ACT in wider existence. The factors involved are too many, almost infinite. If one is set on its fulfillment and faces infinite alternative possibilities, nothing short of adventure is before him all the time. Granting they come together within marriage or outside it, they see Romance means reaching the point of co-action at every moment is neither in his hands, nor in hers, nor in the hands of anything. In yoga there is rarely a live period for longer than half a minute. To make that everlasting is yoga. It is not given to man, maybe not even to the gods up to the Overmind. Only the evolving spirit, as long as it is evolving, can be romantic. The uncertainty Elizabeth faces is one such, if not for a romantic reason. He does feel that romantic context till she agrees.

If he had been wavering before as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice and intreaty of so near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy as dignity unblemished could make him. In that case, he would return no more. Lady Catherine might see him in her way through town, and his engagement to Bingley of coming again to Netherfield must give way.

11
  • The thoughts in these two paragraphs show how real Elizabeth’s anguish is, how worldly wise she is at 21. No girl in her position would be able to leave the bed for weeks. She is high strung, in a high pitched dilemma which can take the mind or even the being to the opening of the next plane. She could have been blissfully oblivious, knowing he is hers at all events. She certainly has no faith in him and though he has it, has not let her know that side.

"If, therefore, an excuse for not keeping his promise should come to his friend within a few days," she added, "I shall know how to understand it. I shall then give over every expectation, every wish of his constancy. If he is satisfied with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my affections and hand, I shall soon cease to regret him at all."

14

The surprise of the rest of the family, on hearing who their visitor had been, was very great; but they obligingly satisfied it with the same kind of supposition which had appeased Mrs. Bennet's curiosity; and Elizabeth was spared from much teasing on the subject.

17
  • As there is no substance in the visit, Mrs. Bennet was appeased.

The next morning, as she was going downstairs, she was met by her father, who came out of his library with a letter in his hand.

18
  • Mr. Bennet’s sense of humour is not high. Seeing her face, how can he not know she is depressed? It is a low sense of humour out of place in his relationship with her.

"Lizzy," said he, "I was going to look for you; come into my room."

19
  • He certainly is not in an emotional relationship with her.

She followed him thither; and her curiosity to know what he had to tell her was heightened by the supposition of its being in some manner connected with the letter he held. It suddenly struck her that it might be from Lady Catherine; and she anticipated with dismay all the consequent explanations.

20
  • It is dry humour, vainly indulged, bringing out his silly side.

She followed her father to the fireplace, and they both sat down. He then said --

22

"I have received a letter this morning that has astonished me exceedingly. As it principally concerns yourself, you ought to know its contents. I did not know before that I had two daughters on the brink of matrimony. Let me congratulate you on a very important conquest."

24
  • Collins second letter is a revenge on Elizabeth’s advice not to introduce himself to Darcy. That letter brought him to Meryton by the storms of Catherine’s anger. Collins releases a missile, hoping it will blow Bennet and Elizabeth into pieces. He does not know a storm is brewing at Rosings. The missile releases that energy and Collins is blown over. Collins is the monkey who pulled the wedge out
  • Elizabeth’s resentment of Darcy not being a free companion with her is one reason to bring a letter from Collins. Darcy and Collins are alike
  • Her father’s jibes at Darcy pain her, but she is unaware of her own accusations of him

57 mr bennet Pride and Prejudice

The colour now rushed into Elizabeth's cheeks in the instantaneous conviction of its being a letter from the nephew, instead of the aunt; and she was undetermined whether most to be pleased that he explained himself at all, or offended that his letter was not rather addressed to herself, when her father continued --

28

"You look conscious. Young ladies have great penetration in such matters as these; but I think I may defy even your sagacity to discover the name of your admirer. This letter is from Mr. Collins."

29

"From Mr. Collins! And what can he have to say?"

32

"Something very much to the purpose, of course. He begins with congratulations on the approaching nuptials of my eldest daughter, of which, it seems, he has been told by some of the good-natured, gossiping Lucases. I shall not sport with your impatience by reading what he says on that point. What relates to yourself is as follows: 'Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs. Collins and myself on this happy event, let me now add a short hint on the subject of another; of which we have been advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet after her elder sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate may be reasonably looked up to as one of the most illustrious personages in this land.'

34

"Can you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this? -- 'This young gentleman is blessed, in a peculiar way, with everything the heart of mortal can most desire -- splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. Yet, in spite of all these temptations, let me warn my cousin Elizabeth, and yourself, of what evils you may incur by a precipitate closure with this gentleman's proposals, which, of course, you will be inclined to take immediate advantage of.'

39

"Have you any idea, Lizzy, who this gentleman is? But now it comes out --

42

"'My motive for cautioning you is as follows: we have reason to imagine that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye."

44

"Mr. Darcy, you see, is the man! Now, Lizzy, I think I have surprised you. Could he or the Lucases have pitched on any man, within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the lie more effectually to what they related? Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at you in his life! It is admirable!"

45

Elizabeth tried to join in her father's pleasantry, but could only force one most reluctant smile. Never had his wit been directed in a manner so little agreeable to her.

50

"Are you not diverted?"

52

"Oh! Yes. Pray read on."

53

"'After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became apparent that, on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.' -- Mr. Collins, moreover, adds, 'I am truly rejoiced that my cousin Lydia's sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that their living together before the marriage took place should be so generally known. I must not, however, neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my amazement, at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement of vice; and had I been the rector of Longbourn, I should very strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them, as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing." -- That is his notion of Christian forgiveness! The rest of his letter is only about his dear Charlotte's situation, and his expectation of a young olive-branch. But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it. You are not going to be missish, I hope, and pretend to be affronted at an idle report. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"

56

"Oh!" Cried Elizabeth, "I am excessively diverted. But it is so strange!"

65

"Yes; that is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other man, it would have been nothing; but his perfect indifference, and your pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd! Much as I abominate writing, I would not give up Mr. Collins's correspondence for any consideration. Nay, when I read a letter of his, I cannot help giving him the preference even over Wickham, much as I value the impudence and hypocrisy of my son-in-law. And pray, Lizzy, what said Lady Catherine about this report? Did she call to refuse her consent?"

67

To this question his daughter replied only with a laugh; and as it had been asked without the least suspicion, she was not distressed by his repeating it. Elizabeth had never been more at a loss to make her feelings appear what they were not. It was necessary to laugh, when she would rather have cried. Her father had most cruelly mortified her by what he said of Mr. Darcy's indifference; and she could do nothing but wonder at such a want of penetration, or fear that, perhaps, instead of his seeing too little, she might have fancied too much.

73

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