The Bennet sisters attend the ball with their mother, and the eldest, Jane who is very beautiful, dances twice with Bingley, who declares her to be the most beautiful creature he ever beheld. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is snubbed by Darcy
and inspite of having no other partners, both sit out a dance. When
Bingley suggests that his friend dance with Elizabeth, Darcy says that she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt him and goes on to declare that he has no interest in women who are ignored by other men. Because of these comments, and his refusal to dance with anyone not rich or well-bred, the neighborhood takes a dislike to Darcy. Meanwhile, Bingley is declared to be an amiable person.
At the end of the evening, the Bennet ladies return to their house, where Mrs. Bennet bores her husband with stories from the evening until he insists that she be silent. Upstairs, Jane expresses surprise that Bingley danced with her twice, Eliza tells her sister that she is unaware of her own beauty. Both girls agree that Bingley's sisters are not well-mannered, but Jane insists that they are charming in close conversation, while Eliza continues to harbor a dislike for the two.
The author then provides us with Bingley's background. We learn that he inherited a hundred thousand pounds from his father, but for now, in spite of his sisters' complaints, he lives as a tenant. His friendship with Darcy is a steady one despite their opposite characters, which are illustrated in their reactions to the Meryton ball. Bingley, cheerful and sociable, has an excellent time and is taken with Jane; Darcy, more clever but less tactful, finds the people dull and even criticizes Jane for smiling too often. The Bingley's sisters, on the other hand, find Jane to be a sweet girl, and Bingley therefore feels secure in his good opinion of her.
The Bennets' neighbors are Sir William Lucas, his wife, and their daughters, the eldest of whom, Charlotte, is Elizabeth’s closest friend. The morning after the ball, the women of the two families discuss the evening, and decide that while Bingley
danced with Charlotte first, he considered Jane to
be the prettiest of the local girls. The discussion then turns to Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth states that she will never dance with him; everyone agrees that Darcy, despite his family and fortune, is too proud to be liked.
Bingley's sisters exchange visits with the Bennets, and attempt to befriend Elizabeth and Jane. Meanwhile, Bingley continues to pay attention to Jane, and Elizabeth decides that her sister is very much in love with him, but is concealing it very well. She discusses this with Charlotte Lucas, who comments that if Jane conceals it too well, Bingley may lose interest. Elizabeth says it is better for a young woman to be patient until she is sure of her feelings; Charlotte disagrees, saying that it is best not to know too much about your future husband's faults.
Meanwhile, Darcy find himself attracted to Elizabeth, and begins listening to her conversations at parties, much to her surprise. At one party, at the Lucas house, Sir William Lucas attempts to persuade Elizabeth and Darcy to dance together, and Elizabeth refuses. Shortly afterward, Darcy tells Bingley's unmarried sister that Elizabeth is now the object of his admiration.
In the next chapter, we learn that Mr. Bennet's property is entailed, meaning that it must pass to a man after his death and cannot be inherited by any of his daughters. His two youngest, Catherine and Lydia, entertain themselves by beginning a series of visits to their mother's sister, a Mrs. Philips, in the town of Meryton, and gossiping about the militia stationed there.
One night, while the Bennets are discussing the soldiers at dinner, a note arrives inviting Jane to Netherfield Park for a day. Mrs. Bennet and Elizabeth conspire to send Jane by horse rather than coach, knowing that it will rain and Jane will be forced to spend the night at Mr. Bingley's house. Unfortunately, their plan works out too well. Jane is soaked, falls ill, and is forced to remain at Netherfield as an invalid. Elizabeth goes to visit her on foot and causes a stir when she arrives with her stockings soaked. Jane insists that her sister spends the night, and the Bingleys consent.
That night, while Elizabeth is in her sister's room, the Bingley sisters poke fun at the Bennets. Darcy and Mr. Bingley defend them, but even Darcy concedes that their lack of wealth and family make them poor marriage prospects.
After Elizabeth returns to the room, the discussion turns to Darcy's library at his ancestral home of Pemberley, and then to Darcy's opinions on what constitutes an accomplished woman. After he and Bingley list the attributes that such a woman would possess, Elizabeth declares that she never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as he described , all united in one lady. She implies that Darcy is far too demanding.
The next day, Mrs. Bennet arrives with Lydia and Catherine to visit Jane. She spends much of her visit attempting to convince Bingley that he must remain at Netherfield, and makes a fool of herself. First by comparing country life to the city, and then by prattling on about Jane's beauty. Near the end of the visit, fifteen-year-old Lydia asks Bingley whether he will hold a ball at Netherfield Park, and he states that he must wait until Jane is fully recovered.
In the evening, Elizabeth observes Miss Bingley piling compliments upon Darcy as he writes to his sister. The conversation then turns to Bingley's style of letter-writing, and then to Bingley's impetuous behavior, which in turn involves Elizabeth and Darcy in an argument over the virtues of accepting the advice of friends. Afterward, Miss Bingley plays a lively Scotch tune on the piano-forte, and Elizabeth again refuses to dance with Darcy. Her refusal only increases his admiration, and he considers that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger of falling in love with her. Ms. Bingley, observing his attraction, becomes jealous and spends the following day making fun of Elizabeth's family, inviting Darcy to imagine them connected to his proud and respectable line.
Miss Bingley spends the following night, again, trying to attract Darcy's attention, first by reading, then by criticizing the foolishness of balls, and finally by walking about the room. Only when she ask Elizabeth to walk with her, however, does Darcy look up, and then the two women discuss the possibility of finding something to ridicule in his character. He states that his only fault is resentment. Elizabeth replies that it is hard to laugh at a tendency to hate every body, and Miss Bingley, seeing Darcy being monopolized by Elizabeth once again, insists on music.
The next morning, Elizabeth writes to her mother to say that she and Jane are ready to return home. Mrs. Bennet had hoped that Jane would stay longer with Bingley, and refuses to send the carriage. Elizabeth, anxious to be away, insists on borrowing Bingley's carriage, and she and her sister leave Netherfield Park. Darcy is glad to see them go, as Elizabeth attracted him more than he liked, considering that she was not a suitable prospect for matrimony.
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of Pride and Prejudice