Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mrs. Bingley with the assistance of her five daughters, makes every effort to draw from her husband a satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley, but Mr. Bennet does not oblige the ladies. It is through Lady Lucas that they learn that Bingley is quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable. In a few days Bingley returns Mr. Bennet’s visit but is disappointed as he cannot meet any of the Bennet girls about whom he had heard so much. He declines the Bennet's dinner invitation as he has to leave for London the next day.

      Mr. Bingley returns with two sisters, one brother-in-law and a friend, Mr. Darcy. The Ball is held at Netherfield Park and is a great success.

      Mr. Darcy draws the attention of the ladies by his fine tall personality, handsome features, noble bearing but more by the report in circulation within ten minutes, of his having ten thousand a year. However, he is soon discovered to be proud, too above his company. Bingley on the other hand is lively, friendly and unreserved and dances freely. Darcy dances only with the sisters of Bingley and refuses to be introduced to another lady.

      When Mr. Bingley finds that Elizabeth has been without a partner for the last two dances he approaches Darcy who is also standing engaged to dance with Elizabeth, but Darcy coldly refuses saying that Elizabeth is not handsome enough to tempt him. Elizabeth’s pride is hurt but being of lively and humorous disposition she dismisses it casually. Jane however is a big success at the ball and is the centre of Bingley’s attention much to Mrs. Bennet’s joy. Mrs. Bennet returns to Longbourn with her daughters and talks at great length about the happenings at the ball, much to Mr. Bennet’s boredom and irritation.

      Critical Analysis: The two main male characters in the novel are introduced, and here is presented also the first of a series of important balls that occur during the novel. Mr. Bingley captivates everyone at the ball by his charming personality and friendly manner. In contrast, Darcy is seen as an extremely reserved man. At first, he also attracts attention because of his good looks, but soon everyone thinks him to be proud and disagreeable. The first meeting of Darcy and Elizabeth takes place at this ball. He refuses to dance with her saying that she is not handsome enough to tempt him. This is characteristic of his speech in the first part of the novel; he always talks in terms of his superiority. In fact, Miss Austen is satirizing the traditional eighteenth-century romance where a man and a woman fell in love with each other promptly. Instead, she presents every possible obstacle which will prevent a romance from developing between Elizabeth and Darcy.

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