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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 4

Summary

Elizabeth and Jane, the eldest two Bennet daughters, discuss the events that took place at the ball. Both of them agree that Bingley is not only rich and handsome, but also very refined. They also agree that Darcy is uncouth and unpleasant. Elizabeth has not taken to Mr. Bingley’s sisters and finds them proud and conceited, thinking highly of themselves and very poorly of the people who are not as wealthy as they. The good-hearted Jane, however, refuses to see faults in others and considers them charming.

There exists a firm friendship between Darcy and Bingley although they are temperamentally opposite. Bingley’s easy- going, friendly nature endears him to Darcy, and Bingley places a great premium on Darcy’s judgement and sharp intellect. Darcy is the unstated ‘superior amongst the two’ but his pride is monstrous. The manner in which the two friends react to the party is quite typical of them. While Bingley is absolutely floored by the bevy of beauties, especially Jane Bennet, Darcy’s response is negative: he finds the guests a queer assortment of people who lack beauty and fashion.


Notes

The purpose of the fourth chapter is character development. Jane reveals herself as a sweet-tempered person, never offensive and always believing in the basic goodness of people. Jane admits her love for Bingley to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is shown to be intelligent, critical and high-spirited. She confirms her strong dislike for Darcy and criticizes Bingley’s sisters as well. She is critical of Jane for being "blind" to others. This criticism is filled with irony, because in the later part of the novel Elizabeth is blind in analyzing Darcy.

The Bingley sisters are rich, compulsive spenders who find most people beneath them in social class and believe them to be a bore and a bother. In contrast to his siblings, Mr. Bingley is depicted as kind, charming, and unaffected by his wealth. (He supposedly has inherited property worth 1,000,000 pounds from his father.) He enjoys the company of the new people he meets during the ball. He is not at all like his good friend Darcy who is offensive, proud and rude. He finds the same bunch of people with " little beauty and no fashion". The contrast in characters is obviously intentional on the part of Austen.

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