Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 10 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Jane is a little better by the evening and, after dinner, Elizabeth joins the party in the drawing room. Darcy is writing a letter but Miss Bingley is sitting nearby watching him and repeatedly distracting his attention by calling out messages to her sister. They talk about various things and analyse the temperaments of Darcy and Bingley. All the virtues of fashionable society like friendship, affection, discretion and obligation are discussed. After enduring these interruptions for sometime, Darcy manages to finish his letter and asks Caroline Bingley and Elizabeth for some music. Mrs. Hurst and her sister sing while Elizabeth stands turning over some music books; she cannot help noticing how frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes are fixed on her. Elizabeth considers that Darcy only looks at her because he disapproves of her appearance; she has no inkling that he now admires her. Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance a reel with him but she refuses. Miss Bingley is jealous and is glad when Elizabeth returns to Jane. The following morning Miss Bingley walks in the garden with Darcy, offering advice on his future married life, as she imagines it. Jane is better and Elizabeth and Mrs. Hurst meet Darcy and Caroline on a path which is only wide enough for three. Caroline Bingley rudely leaves Elizabeth to walk by herself; Darcy is annoyed at their behaviour.

      Critical Analysis: The contrast between two ways of writing is meant to be read as a contrast of two kinds of personality. Darcy writes carefully, slowly, while Bingley, writes rapidly, without thought. There is an implicit compliment, in this society, in saying that someone can do things without thought, with a rapidity; somehow this is more admirable than to be one of those who act slowly and with deliberation. This is not the view held by Darcy, and not the view held by Jane Austen. Bingley admits that his letters end in blots, and “convey no ideas at all.” Darcy is the man of thought, of reason; he will get things done, and his life will be more stable.

      When Darcy mentions that everyone has a defect, Elizabeth remarks that Darcy’s defect is his “propensity to hate everybody” Darcy aptly retorts, “And wilfully to misunderstand them” Elizabeth’s prejudice continues to work on her. Like many of Jane Austen heroines, she is blind at the beginning of the novel and must progress through experience and learning to a point where she is deserving of marriage. Darcy, in his turn, is tolerant of her coolness, realizing the unsatisfactory impression he must have made on this fascinating and intelligent woman. Indeed, her reticence impresses him favourably, especially when contrasted with the advances made by Caroline Bingley, who seems to share Charlotte’s ideas of how to trap a man. Such plans may work with a Collins or a Bingley, but clearly Darcy is a different kind of man. Miss. Bingley’s character grows more detestable the closer Darcy comes to Elizabeth. She unwittingly helps to drive Darcy into Elizabeth’s arms.

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