Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Автор: andrey4444. Опубликовано в Джейн Остин

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman, Mr Bennet, living in Longbourn.

Set in England in the late 18th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet's five unmarried daughters after two gentlemen have moved into their neighbourhood: the rich and eligible Mr Bingley, and his status-conscious friend, the even richer and more eligible Mr Darcy. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy is disdainful of local society and repeatedly clashes with the Bennets' lively second daughter, Elizabeth.

Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books". It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Likewise, it has paved the way for archetypes that abound in many contemporary literature of our time. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.

The narrative opens with news in the Bennet family that Mr Bingley, a wealthy, charismatic and sociable young bachelor, is moving into Netherfield Park in the neighbourhood. Mr Bingley is soon well received while his friend Mr Darcy makes a less favourable impression by appearing proud and condescending at a ball that they attend (he detests dancing and is not one for light conversation). Mr Bingley singles out Jane for particular attention, and it soon becomes apparent that they have formed an attachment to each other. While Jane does not alter her conduct for him, she confesses her great happiness only to Lizzie. By contrast, Darcy slights Elizabeth, who overhears and jokes about it despite feeling a budding resentment.

Upon paying a visit to Mr Bingley's sister, Caroline, Jane is caught in a heavy downpour, catching cold, and is forced to stay at Netherfield for several days. Elizabeth arrives to nurse her sister and is thrown into frequent company with Mr Darcy, who begins to act less coldly towards her.

Mr Collins, a clergyman and heir to Longbourn, the Bennet estate, pays a visit to the Bennets. Mr Bennet and Elizabeth are much amused by his obsequious veneration of his employer, the noble Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as well as by his self-important and pedantic nature. It soon becomes apparent that Mr Collins has come to Longbourn to choose a wife from among the Bennet sisters (his cousins), and Jane is initially singled out, but because of Jane's budding romance with Mr Bingley, Mrs Bennet directs him toward Elizabeth. After refusing his advances, much to the consternation of her mother, Elizabeth instead forms an acquaintance with Mr Wickham, a militia officer who relates having been very seriously mistreated by Mr Darcy despite having been a godson and favourite of Darcy's father. The accusation and her attraction to Mr Wickham both increase Elizabeth's dislike of Mr Darcy.
At a ball given by Mr Bingley at Netherfield, Mr Darcy becomes aware of a general expectation that Mr Bingley and Jane will marry, and the Bennet family, with the exception of Jane and Elizabeth, make a public display of poor manners and decorum. The following morning, Mr Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth, who refuses him, much to her mother's distress. Mr Collins recovers and promptly becomes engaged to Elizabeth's close friend Charlotte Lucas, a homely woman with few prospects. Mr Bingley abruptly quits Netherfield and returns to London, which devastates Jane, and Elizabeth becomes convinced that Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley have conspired to separate him from Jane.

Jane is persuaded by letters from Caroline Bingley that Mr Bingley is not in love with her but goes on an extended visit to Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London in the hope of maintaining her relationship with Caroline, if not with Charles Bingley. There, she visits Caroline and, eventually, her visit is returned. She does not see Mr Bingley and is forced to realise that Caroline does not care for her.

In the spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr Collins in Kent. Elizabeth and her hosts are frequently invited to Rosings Park, the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy's aunt; coincidentally, Darcy also arrives to visit. Elizabeth meets Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who vouches for Darcy's loyalty by using as an example how Darcy had recently stepped in on behalf of a friend, who had formed an attachment to a woman against whom "there were some very strong objection". Elizabeth rightly assumes that the said friend is none other than Mr Bingley, and her dislike of Darcy deepens. Thus, she is no mood to accept when Darcy arrives and, quite unexpectedly, confesses love for her and begs her hand in marriage. His proposal is flattering, as he is a very distinguished man, but it is delivered in a manner that is ill suited. He talks of love but also of revulsion at her inferior position and family. Despite assertions to the contrary, he assumes she will accept him.

Elizabeth admonishes him, and a heated discussion follows; she charges him with destroying the happiness of both her sister and Bingley, with treating Mr Wickham disgracefully and with having conducted himself towards her in an arrogant, ungentleman-like manner. Mr Darcy, shocked, ultimately responds with a letter giving a good account of his actions: Wickham had exchanged his legacies for a cash payment, only to return after frittering away the money to reclaim the forfeited inheritance; Wickham then attempted to elope with Darcy's young sister, Georgiana, which would have secured her fortune for himself. Regarding Jane and Bingley, Darcy claims he had observed no reciprocal interest in Jane for Bingley and had assumed that she was not in love with him. In addition to this, he cites the "want of propriety" in the behaviour of Mr and Mrs Bennet and her three younger daughters. Elizabeth, who had previously despaired over this very behavior, is forced to admit the truth of Mr Darcy's observations, and begins to see that she has misjudged him. She, quite rightly, attributes her prejudice to his coldness towards her at the beginning of their acquaintance.

Some months later, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle Gardiner visit Pemberley, Darcy's estate, believing he will be absent for the day. He returns unexpectedly and is surprised but gracious and welcoming, quite unlike his usual self. He treats the Gardiners very civilly, surprising Elizabeth, who assumes he will "decamp immediately" on learning who they are. Darcy introduces Elizabeth to his sister, which Elizabeth knows is the highest compliment he can bestow. Elizabeth begins to acknowledge her own attraction to him. Their reacquaintance is cut short, however, by the news that Lydia has run off with Mr Wickham. Elizabeth and the Gardiners return to Longbourn (the Bennet family home), where Elizabeth grieves that her renewed acquaintance with Mr Darcy will end as a result of her sister's disgrace.

Lydia and Wickham are soon found and are persuaded to marry, which enables the Bennet family to preserve some appearance of decorum. Jane, Elizabeth and Mr Bennet conclude that Uncle Gardiner must have bribed Wickham to marry Lydia, and they are ashamed of their indebtedness and inability to repay him.

Mrs Bennet, quite typically, has no such scruples; being ecstatic to have a daughter married, she never stops to consider the want of propriety and honesty throughout the affair. Mr and Mrs Wickham visit Longbourn, where Lydia lets slip that Mr Darcy attended their wedding but that it was to have been a secret. From a letter, Elizabeth discovers from Aunt Gardiner that in fact, Mr Darcy was responsible for finding the couple and negotiating their marriage at great personal and monetary expense for him. Elizabeth is shocked and flattered as "her heart did whisper that he had done it for her" but is unable to dwell further on the topic because of Mr Bingley's return and subsequent proposal to Jane, who immediately accepts.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays an unexpected visit to Longbourn. She has heard a rumour that Elizabeth will marry Mr Darcy and attempts to persuade Elizabeth to agree not to marry. Lady Catherine wants Mr Darcy to marry her daughter (his cousin) Anne De Bourgh and thinks that Elizabeth is beneath him. Elizabeth refuses her demands. Disgusted, Lady Catherine leaves, promising that the marriage can never take place. Elizabeth assumes she will apply to Darcy and is worried that he may be persuaded.

Darcy returns to Longbourn. Chance allows Elizabeth and Darcy a rare moment alone. She immediately thanks him for intervening in the case of Lydia and Wickham. He renews his proposal of marriage and is promptly accepted. Elizabeth soon learns that his hopes were revived by his aunt's report of Elizabeth's refusal to promise not to marry him. They marry. Kitty has grown slightly more sensible from association with Jane and Elizabeth and distance from Lydia, and Lady Catherine eventually condescends to visit the Darcy family.

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Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice

 

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