Summary of 'Pride and Prejudice' - Classic Novel by Jane Austin

 Pride and Prejudice Summary

Pride and Prejudice Summary

Set in rural England at the turn of the 19th century, the story centers on the flourishing relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth is a daughter of a country gentleman, whereas Darcy is a rich aristocratic landowner. The novel also follows the Bennet family, which has five sisters- the eldest Jane, Elizabeth, the protagonist, Mary, the nerd, and the two youngest Lydia and Kitty. When Charles Bingley, a single man of a huge fortune, moves to the Netherfield estate, the neighbors are thrilled, especially Mrs. Bennet, who hopes to marry one of her five daughters to him.

When the Bennet’s meet him at the Meryton ball, they are impressed by him. However, they didn’t like Bingley's friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, who is too proud to speak to anyone and snubs Elizabeth. Throughout the story, the Bennet sisters meet several eligible suitors/bachelors, including Darcy, Collins, Charles Bingley, and Lieutenant George Wickham.

Bingley and Jane soon started liking each other. Any serious relationship between the two, however, is opposed by Bingley's sisters and by Darcy. Meanwhile, Darcy finds himself attracted to Elizabeth with her expressive eyes and lively wit. 

As Darcy begins to admire Elizabeth, she on the other hand continues to despise him and is instead attracted to George Wickham. Wickham is stationed at the nearby town of Meryton, where Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Bennet’s sister lives. Wickham tells Elizabeth how he and Darcy grew up together and his father worked for Darcy's father. Stating that he was Darcy's father godson. Wickham claims that Darcy’s father promised that he would inherit a good fortune after his death. However, Darcy failed to fulfill his father's bequest out of selfish resentment. Wickham's stories make Darcy appear not only proud but cruel, and Elizabeth did not question Wickham's account, disliking Darcy even more.

Amid Jane and Elizabeth's developing relationships, the Bennet family receives a letter from Mr. Collins stating his intention to visit them. Because of an entail, the modest family estate is to be inherited by William Collins, who is Mr. Bennet’s nephew.

 Mr. Collins informs Mrs. Bennet that Lady Catherine, his Patroness has instructed him to marry and that he plans to choose a wife from one of the Bennet sisters. He proposes to Elizabeth but is shocked and offended when she refuses him as he assumes she is simply playing coy. Mrs. Bennet gets very angry at Elizabeth for refusing Collin's proposal, but Mr. Bennet is glad at her daughter’s decision. After getting rejection by Elizabeth, Collins quickly shifts his attention to Elizabeth's friend, Charlotte Lucas, who wants to marry a man simply for financial security rather than love, and the two are soon engaged and married. This made Elizabeth disappointed in her friend.

At the same time, Jane is dismayed to find out that Bingley has left for London for some business but plans to return soon. However, Caroline Bingley writes to Jane that they have changed their minds and do not intend to return for at least six months. She also wrote that she hopes for a match between Bingley and Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana, who is also in London and that their marriage will unite the fortunes of two families. This left Jane heartbroken, but she quietly resigns herself to a life without Bingley. Whereas, Elizabeth is angry about her sister’s situation and suspects that Bingley's sisters and Darcy are somehow involved in trying to keep Bingley away from Jane.

Elizabeth visits Charlotte (now Mrs. Collins) at her new home in Hunsford, Kent, and meets Lady Catherine De Bourgh and Darcy's aunt. Soon after Elizabeth arrives in Kent, Darcy visits his aunt along with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Darcy confuses Elizabeth with his behavior as he seems to seek out her company and pays a lot of attention to her but never says much. One day, Colonel Fitzwilliam mentions to Elizabeth that Darcy recently saved a close friend from an ill-considered marriage. Elizabeth realizes that he is referring to her sister, Jane, and Bingley, which made her angry at Darcy. 

Darcy surprises Elizabeth while she is alone at the parsonage and proposed to her despite her low family connections. Still repelled by his rude behavior and believing Darcy is responsible for Bingley's separation from Jane and for Wickham's misfortune, Elizabeth rudely refuses his marriage proposal. The next day, Darcy finds Elizabeth and gives her a letter explaining his part in influencing Bingley and details his side of the facts of Wickham's story. Initially, she refuses to believe him, but after a careful examination of the facts, she discovers that he is innocent of wrongdoing, leaving Elizabeth mortified of how she prejudiced against Darcy.

Soon after returning home, Elizabeth goes on a vacation with the Gardiners to Derbyshire county, where they visit Darcy's estate of Pemberley. There they meet Darcy unexpectedly and are all surprised at his extremely cordial behavior. He tells Elizabeth that he wants to introduce her to his sister, Georgiana, and invites her to Pemberley for dinner. It is still evident that Darcy is still fond of Elizabeth, and even she begins to have similar feelings for him.

One morning, Elizabeth receives a letter from Jane telling her that Lydia has eloped with Wickham and asking Elizabeth to return home immediately. Elizabeth fears that Lydia and the Bennet family are permanently disgraced and that now no one will marry the Bennet sisters. When Lydia is found, Wickham agreed to marry her if Mr. Bennet provides her with her equal share of his wealth. Elizabeth discovers that Darcy plays a vital role in orchestrating the marriage, thereby saving Bennet’s family reputation.

Bingley along with Darcy returns to Netherfield and proposes to Jane to marry him, which she accepts. Meanwhile, Lady Catherine De Bourgh comes to Longbourn, who has heard a rumor that Darcy and Elizabeth are engaged, which they are not. She forbids Elizabeth to accept any proposal from Darcy, which Elizabeth refuses. This gives Darcy hope, and he proposes again, and Elizabeth happily accepts.