Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 15 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mr. Collins, having a good house and a sufficient income, intends to marry and has visited Longbourn with a view to choosing one of the Bennet daughters, if he finds one handsome and amiable enough. He considers that this will make amends for his inheriting her father’s estate. He is attracted by Jane, but Mrs. Bennet makes it clear that her eldest daughter’s affections are engaged elsewhere. Mr. Collins then turns his attention to Elizabeth. The sisters walk into Meryton, accompanied by Mr. Collins, who has begun to bore Mr. Bennet a great deal. They encounter an officer friend, Mr. Denny who introduces them to a newly arrived colleague, Mr. Wickham—a young man of good looks and pleasing manners. The group is joined by Bingley and Darcy, who have been riding down the street on their way to Longbourn to enquire after Jane’s health. Both Darcy and Wickham seem extremely disconcerted at the sight of each other and Darcy and Bingley ride on after a very short meeting. Denny and Wickham leave the girls and Collins at the door of Mrs. Phillips’s house. The girls’ aunt promises to invite Wickham to supper the next evening if they will come as well. The girls are delighted. Mr. Collins, on his return to Longbourn, praises Mrs. Phillips’ manner and politeness.

      Critical Analysis: The purpose of Mr. Collin’s visit to Longbourn to win one of the Bennet girls as a wife becomes very obvious. He is easily able to shift from Jane to Elizabeth, though he has no feeling for either. This is one way of finding a wife quickly, but it is hardly a sound foundation for a marriage. Jane Austen deplores such an approach towards marriage. Such are marriages of convenience, designed less for the happiness of the individuals involved than for some ulterior purpose.

      A second alien element is injected into the life of the Bennet family. Wickham who will play an important role in complicating the actions of the novel is introduced in this chapter.

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