Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: After Elizabeth has dined with the Bingley and Darcy, she returns to Jane, who is still very sick. Miss Bingley begins to find fault with Elizabeth as soon as she has left the room. Both Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst declare Elizabeth to be a foolish country girl with no style, taste or beauty and comment that she looked wild and untidy after she walked from Meryton that morning. Bingley however finds nothing untidy about Elizabeth’s appearance and appreciates her concern for her sister. Darcy feels that the walk had brightened her fine eyes. Elizabeth stays with Jane till she falls asleep and then comes to the drawing room to find the whole party playing cards.

      Elizabeth declines to play and examines some books. Conversation turns to Darcy’s fine home, Pemberley, with its magnificent liberty to which Darcy is always adding more books. The Bingley sisters continue to poke subtle fun at Elizabeth.

      When Elizabeth returns to her sister’s room she finds her worse. It is decided to call the apothecary early in the morning if Jane is not better. Bingley is concerned and uncomfortable. His sisters declare that they are miserable but are not really so.

      Critical Analysis: At the Bingley’ residence, Elizabeth becomes aware of the extreme hypocrisy of the Bingley sisters. She notes how much Miss Bingley fawns over Jane, but knows that she will talk ill of her behind her back. She also notes how flattering Miss Bingley is to Mr. Darcy. Miss Bingley is clearly aiming to discredit Elizabeth in the eyes of Darcy who resists her snobbish arguments, showing himself as a man of good sense.

      Darcy’s personality is further revealed when he gives his view of what the qualifications for a wife must be. He speaks in long, involved sentences with slow deliberation. In contrast, Elizabeth answers him with a certain precision and quickness, but in her answer, she sums up everything he had said earlier. She possesses a quickness of repartee as well as a capacity for getting at the essence of an argument.

      In the presence of Elizabeth, Miss Bingley purposely refers to Miss Darcy and begins to speak highly of her manners and accomplishments. From their talk is revealed the accomplishments of a lady during Jane Austen’s time. A lady was supposed to be well-versed in music, dancing, drawing and languages.

      The gap between Darcy and Elizabeth is further diminished. Her preference for reading rather than card playing and embroidery makes her more attractive to Darcy than she was.

      They appear to be suited for each other, though Darcy is not quite prepared to go so far, and Elizabeth has not yet begun to depart from her original dislike of Darcy.

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