Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice: Ch. 1

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Pride and Prejudiced

Chapter 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.d

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful propertyw of some one or other of their daughters.

"My dear Mr. Bennet,h" said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Parkh is let at last?"

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

"Do you not want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatientlyh.

"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."

This was invitation enough.

"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came downh on Monday in a chaise and fourh to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmash, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."

"What is his name?"

"Bingley."

"Is he married or single?"

"Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a yearh. What a fine thing for our girls!"

"How so? How can it affect them?"

"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."

"Is that his design in settling here?"

"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes."

"I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsomew as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party."

X [d] Pride and Prejudice

Writing & Reading

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X [d] It is a truth universally acknowledged, that …

Writing & Reading

For students, teachers, scholars, and the inquisitive general reader: To employ the full capacity of the annotations, please go to bookdoors.com and click on ReSearch Engine. You will discover a variety of ways to use the annotations' content to any one and or to all of the BookDoors In Context editions. You will also be able to search the text of the nearly 100 works on the site. …

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X [w] property

Custom & Law

The word will resonate throughout the novel. There are essentially two kinds of property, real (in the sense of real estate) and portable, as in cash, jewels, bonds.

The irony here is that the women view the young men as ambulatory property, when, immediately upon marriage, the woman will become the legal property of her husband hardly to be differentiated, if he chooses, from baggage.

X [h] My dear Mr. Bennet,

Manners & Morals

Husbands and wives often addressed one another as Mr. and Mrs., here softened by "my dear." They rarely used first names in public, an exception being for instance in Emma when Weston on one occasion calls his wife "Anne."

X [h] Netherfield Park

Places

The designation "park" indicated a substantial estate, the "park" portion of which was enclosed by a wall, hedges, or fence and included meadow or pasture and woods. The park was set aside for sheep, cattle, or deer.

Originally "park" meant an enclosed tract of land held by royal grant that allowed only the owner to hunt there.

X [h] cried his wife impatiently

Writing & Reading

Mrs. Bennet, full of urgent news, has to contend with a husband whose silences and ironies drive her to desperation.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennets' respective characters are exhibited entirely through their dialogue from now until the chapter's end, excepting the final paragraph. Austen's extensive use of direct speech does much to give her novels their sense of immediacy. As her characters…

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X [h] came down

Transportation

Not from the north of England but from London, which is always "up" and the rest of Britain, including Edinburgh, "down."

X [h] a chaise and four

Transportation

A chaise and four bespeaks money, beginning with the four horses. "Chaise" can apply to a variety of carriages, but here probably a longer-distance traveling vehicle that holds three people. 

X [h] Michaelmas

Daily Life

September 29, one of the year's quarter days. The others are Christmas, Lady Day (March 24), and Mid-summer (June 24). These were also occasions to settle accounts such as bills, rents, and tithes. P&P, like Emma, will unfold over the course of a year and end about Michaelmas.…

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X [h] four or five thousand a year

Money

To convert £ in 1815 into 2010 $ is sketchy but multiplying by about 90 will give an approximation. Bingley has an annual income of between $360,000 and $450,000. Though there were taxes on everything from income to servants, carriages, horses, windows, and dogs, Bingley's income is large for the time. Moreover, he has few expenses. Renting Netherfield Park indicates that he himself does not have a country estate.…

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X [w] handsome

Love & Marriage

Austen commonly uses "handsome" to describe women, and "pretty" can apply to either sex.

Sex will not be openly discussed in Austen but it's omnipresent and important. Mr. Bennet alludes here to his wife's physical appeal and his attraction to her. The moment is all the more noticeable because these are among his first words in the novel to his wife.…

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