Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Jane is no worse the next morning. But Elizabeth sends a note to her mother asking her to come to Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet accompanied by her two youngest girls reaches Netherfield soon after the family breakfast. She is not alarmed by Jane’s condition and she does not want her to recover her health immediately because that would mean her removal from Netherfield. Therefore, she refuses to listen to her daughter’s proposal of being carried home. The apothecary who arrives also decides that Jane is not well enough to return home. Mrs. Bennet thanks Mr. Bingley and his sisters effusively for their kindness to Jane and in so doing makes an utter fool of herself. Elizabeth is embarrassed by her mother’s behaviour. Mr. Bingley is however, unaffectedly civil and forces his sisters to be civil also. Lydia reminds Mr. Bingley that he has promised to give a ball at Netherfield. Bingley replies that he will do so when Jane is well again. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then depart and Elizabeth returns to Jane. Meanwhile Miss. Bingley and her sister criticize the Bennet ladies in the presence of Mr. Darcy, who does not join in this censure.

      Critical Analysis: Mr. Darcy’s remark condemning village life gives offence to Elizabeth. Mrs. Bennet’s rank vulgarity makes Elizabeth feel discomfited and Darcy embarrassed. Mrs. Bennet reveals her shallowness, her transparent ambitions for her daughters, a streak of cruelty in disparaging William Luca’s daughters while praising her own and an obtuseness in reading character. Her personality throws a light on the personalities of Elizabeth (who turns out to be long-suffering and tolerant) and Darcy, who is embarrassed for Mrs. Bennet, yet sympathetic toward Elizabeth. Above all, Darcy can see that a bad family has not succeeded in ruining Elizabeth’s character; she is all the more a marvel for having turned out well.

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