Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 17 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Elizabeth tells Jane what she has heard about Darcy’s unkindness to Wickham and the latter expresses the opinion that there are two sides to every story. Bingley and his sisters call to invite the Bennets to a ball at Netherfield. Several days before the ball Mr. Collins engages Elizabeth for the first two dances and Elizabeth, having hoped to dance these with Wickham, accepts with as good a grace as she can muster. Collin’s increasing civilities convince her that he is considering her for his matrimonial plans. Mrs. Bennet too favours such a match. But Elizabeth is not inclined towards it.

      Critical Analysis: This chapter presents another subtlety: Jane hears of Mr. Wickham’s report and she does not want to disbelieve it. But she prefers to regard Mr. Darcy as a person worthy of Mr. Bingley’s friendship and therefore finds it more difficult to accept Wickham’s view. On the other hand, Elizabeth’s statement that “Besides, there was truth in his look” reveals precisely the extent of her delusion. Jane Austen is showing how appearances are deceptive and how the real truth about people lies underneath, to be discovered only after long experience and analysis. There are indications that Elizabeth is feeling attracted towards Wickham, the man who has flattered her with attentions.

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