Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 14 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mr. Collins has obtained his parish through the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and he is eloquent in his praise of that lady, a wealthy widow with an only daughter. This young lady, unfortunately, suffers from indifferent health which, Mr. Collins informs them, precludes her from taking her rightful place in society. Mr. Collins repeats some of the compliments he has paid to his patroness and her daughter: Mr. Bennet listens with the keenest enjoyment, for he finds his cousin as absurd as he had hoped. After tea, they go into the drawing-room where Mr. Collins, after declaring his horror of novels, commences to read aloud from Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia, however, interrupts with a frivolous comment about an army officer and Mr. Collins, disgusted, suggests to Mr. Bennet that they play backgammon. The rest of the evening is taken up with this game.

      Critical Analysis: In Mr. Collins’ conversation, Jane Austen has adapted her style to fit his pompous and deliberate speech. This characteristic is one of Miss Austen’s most skillful techniques. Mr. Collins is revealed to be an unlikeable person who is capable only of conventional thinking and absurd ambitions. He is false, hypocritical and pretentious. He makes a perfect foil for the sensible people like Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth. But Mrs. Bennet quickly accepts him as a fine fellow. In this chapter, we are also given an indirect view of Lady Catherine, an unpleasant woman who surrounds herself with oafs like Collins.

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