In early nineteenth century England, the Bennet family is excited to hear that Netherfield Park, a large neighboring estate, has been
leased to a wealthy single gentleman named Mr. Bingley. Mrs. Bennet is especially happy, for she thinks
of little except marrying off her five daughters. The Bennet girls – Jane, Elizabeth (Lizzie,)
Mary, Catherine (Kitty,) and Lydia – attend a party to welcome the good-natured Bingley. He is immediately taken with Jane. But Bingley’s friend, the wealthy and handsome
Mr. Darcy, seems to feel prejudiced towards the relatively lower-class Bennets. This greatly wounds Lizzie’s pride in her
warm and loving family. Bingley’s sister, the haughty Caroline, invites
Jane to Netherfield Park for dinner. Mrs. Bennet says it looks like rain so she
insists Jane go by horseback, not carriage. Her hosts will have to let her stay overnight
rather than send her home in the rain. Jane later sends a note home stating she is
ill from the drenching rain and will be staying. Mrs. Bennet is delighted, but Lizzie knows
her sister must truly be ill and walks to Netherfield to see her. Caroline is disdainful of Lizzie, yet both
Bingley and Darcy compliment Lizzie on her wit and beauty and seem to enjoy her company. Finally Mrs. Bennet arrives with Kitty and
Lydia. Lizzie is embarrassed when Mrs. Bennet fawns
over Bingley and openly dislikes Darcy, while the younger sisters giggle and demand that
Bingley host a ball at Netherfield. Since women are barred by law from inheriting
money or property, Mr. Collins – Mr. Bennet’s cousin and nearest male relative – will
inherit Longbourn after Mr. Bennet’s demise. He can then evict the Bennets if he chooses,
which is Mrs. Bennet’s greatest fear. So, Collins decides to marry one of the Bennet
girls. That will keep Longbourn in their family and
give him a wife. But he is a rather ridiculous figure, a clergyman
terribly proud of having the patronage (financial support) of Lady Catherine de Bourgh because
his church is on her estate. Collins chooses Jane to marry. Mrs. Bennet immediately tells him Jane is
“practically engaged” to Bingley. In the village of Meryton, the Bennet girls
are delighted by handsome young soldiers – including Mr. Wickham. But when Wickham sees Darcy, the two men barely
nod, which is quite rude and very curious. Lizzie becomes fond of Wickham. He has known Darcy since they were young and
says their animosity was caused by Darcy’s family cutting him off from support for unstated
reasons, forcing him to join the military. Lizzie feels this is further evidence of Darcy’s
cold nature. Jane says Bingley would not have Darcy as
a friend if that were so. At the Netherfield Park ball, Wickham never
shows. The attraction between Lizzie and Darcy is
undeniable. However, Darcy’s opinion of the Bennets falls
further when Collins makes an embarrassing show of trying to meet Darcy since he is Lady
Catherine’s nephew. Then, Lizzie’s sister Mary attempts to sing
except she has no talent. Lastly, Mrs. Bennet gets tipsy and announces
that her daughter will soon marry Bingley. The next day, Collins proposes to Lizzie. She refuses but he thinks her parents will
persuade her. Her mother insists she marry Collins, but
her father insists that she not marry him. Collins withdraws his proposal. Lizzie learns that Wickham did not attend
the ball out of dislike for Darcy. Jane is crushed to learn that Bingley and
Caroline have suddenly gone to London indefinitely to visit Georgiana Darcy, Darcy’s sister. Lizzie sees this as a ploy to separate Bingley
from the socially inferior Bennets. Mr. Collins ends up marrying Lizzie’s friend
Charlotte Lucas. She is kind but also plain and poor. Lizzie is shocked, knowing Charlotte is only
doing this for practical reasons. Charlotte says not everyone has the option
of marrying for love. Mrs. Bennet’s brother and his wife, the Gardiners,
invite Jane to visit them in London. Charlotte invites Lizzie to her cottage at
Rosings Park, Lady Catherine’s estate. Charlotte and Collins are not close, but they
are amiable and content. Lady Catherine proves to be condescending
and snobbish and looks down on Lizzie as a social inferior, just as her nephew Darcy
does. Her daughter, Miss de Bourgh, is weak and
sickly and irritable – yet Lady Catherine expects Darcy to marry Miss de Bourgh. Lizzie is quite able to hold her own with
Lady Catherine in conversation. Lizzie and Darcy also flirt and have sharp
and clever exchanges. Lizzie learns that Darcy did interfere with
Jane and Bingley’s courtship. To her surprise, he gives Lizzie a declaration
of love, but also says he loves her against his better judgment due to her inferior station. Lizzie is hurt and angry and says Darcy is
the last man in the world she would ever marry. Lizzie receives a letter from Darcy with a
change of heart. He says he was wrong to be prejudiced towards
Jane and Bingley. He despises Wickham as a gambler who tried
to elope with Darcy’s sister Georgiana when she was just fifteen – intending to marry
her for her fortune. Lizzie realizes she has been prejudiced against
Darcy and his wealth. Their pride has hurt both of them. Lydia begins talking endlessly about Wickham,
who is leaving with his regiment. Then the wife of the regiment’s colonel invites
Lydia to go to the seaside town of Brighton with them, and she does. Lizzie goes with the Gardiners on a summer
holiday. They stop at Pemberley, Darcy’s estate, where
the family tours the house to see its many art treasures. Lizzie is startled when Darcy appears and
is very polite to her, even inviting her uncle to go fishing. Darcy introduces his sister Georgiana to the
visitors. Bingley arrives, too, eager to speak to Lizzie
about Jane. The Gardiners can see that Darcy is actually
a kind gentleman but feel Wickham cannot be trusted. There is shocking news: Lydia has run off
with Wickham. If Wickham does not marry her – highly unlikely,
since Lydia has no fortune – she will have little hope of ever making a respectable marriage. Neither will her sisters. But Lydia and Wickham do marry. When they visit Longbourn, Lydia gloats about
being married when her sisters are not. Then she lets it slip that Darcy was at her
wedding. It was Darcy who paid off Wickham’s gambling
debts and gave him a huge sum to marry Lydia. That saved her reputation – and her family’s. Lizzie realizes that Darcy has actually done
all this for her. Bingley finally proposes to Jane and she accepts. Lady Catherine demands to know whether Lizzie
is engaged to Darcy, because he is supposed to marry Miss de Bourgh. Lizzie says she is not engaged but will not
promise that she won’t accept him, should he propose. Lizzy and Darcy declare their love for each
other at last. They marry and live happily at Pemberley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *