Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 7 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mr. Bennet’s property and estate earn him two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters passes to a distant relation on his death because he has no male heir. Mrs. Bennet’s father had left her four thousand pounds which was not a great deal to leave to her daughters. The Bennet girls go several times a week to the village of Longburn, a mile from Meryton. Mrs. Bennet’s sister—a Mrs. Philips—resides in Longburn and Lydia and Catherine are particularly frequent in their visits as they are interested in Certain members of a militia regiment stationed in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Phillips provides her nieces with enough knowledge of the names and connections of the officers. Mr. Bennet is annoyed by their continual chatter about the officers and observed that they are two of the silliest girls in the country. Mrs. Bennet defends them. Meanwhile, a note arrives for Jane from Miss Bingley asking her to dinner, as she and her sister are alone. Mrs. Bennet sends Jane on horseback, because it seems likely to rain and then she must stay all night. Things happen as anticipated by Mrs. Bennet and the following morning a note arrives for Elizabeth from Jane saying that she has a sore throat and a headache and the Bingley's insist on her staying on. Elizabeth anxious about Jane, walks the three miles to Netherfield much to the surprise of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. Tired and muddy as she is after the walk, Elizabeth is sure that they hold her in contempt for it. Mr. Bingley however receives her with kindness and good humour.

      The apothecary (doctor) who has been summoned diagnoses a severe feverish cold and advises her to stay in bed. Elizabeth is invited to stay with her sister. A servant is sent to Longbourn to inform her parents and to bring back a supply of clothes.

      Critical Analysis: In this chapter, we see how important it is to get the five girls married because Mr. Bennet’s property is entailed so that at his death it must go to a male cousin. Consequently, this makes it even more imperative that each of the girls is well-settled before Mr. Bennet’s death. With such economic insecurity looming large, it is not difficult to realize the preoccupation of Mrs. Bennet with the problem of finding husbands for her daughters or to appreciate the moral courage shown by Elizabeth, when she turns down seemingly attractive marriage proposals offering economic security.

      The contrast between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is further revealed. Mrs. Bennet's approval of her daughter’s flirtations with the officers shows how shallow her values are. Especially damning is her admission that she can still be excited by a uniform. Mr. Bennet may disapprove of the flirtations, but he seems helpless, or too confused to provide the strong authority that is needed. Elizabeth says sarcastically, “If Jane should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley.” As the chapter closes, however, Elizabeth has apparently disgraced herself in Darcy’s eyes; he seems to be embarrassed by her condition after her walk. Once again, however, appearances are deceiving; although it is clear the Bingley sisters are amused, Darcy sees something noble in Elizabeth’s self-sacrifice.

      Mary’s pedantic nature is once again revealed. When Elizabeth decides to go immediately to Netherfield Park on hearing of Jane’s illness, Mary launches into her usual speech and says that a person should not run blindly after his impulse.

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