Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice: Ch. 1

[+] | [-] | reset
 

"My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty."

"In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think ofd."

"But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood."

"It is more than I engage for, I assure you."

"But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucash are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general, you know, they visit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do notd."

"You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy."

"I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference."

"They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and ignorantd like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters."

"Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nervesw."

"You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least."

"Ah, you do not know what I suffer."

"But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood."

"It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them."

"Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all."

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick partsw, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to developw. She was a woman of mean understandingd, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters marriedh; its solace was visiting and news.

X [d] beauty to think of

Writing & Reading

We can hear in this and other witty repartee the comedy of manners of playwrights such as Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith, nearly contemporaries of Austen and models for some of her dialogue.

X [h] Sir William and Lady Lucas

Custom & Law

The "Sir" as opposed to "Lord" indicates that Sir William is a baronet or knight, and in this case it is an honorary title that dies with him.

He was knighted as a reward for a speech he gave when mayor fulsomely praising the King, George III. Barons were part of the peerage, and baronets (the equivalent of business class on a plane) were the next rank below and outside the peerage, to be followed by knights, the lowest titled rank.

X [d] if you do not

They would appear just what they are, a reconnaissance party.

X [d] all silly and ignorant

The tart Mr. Bennet, surrounded by six women, has retreated over the years ever deeper into his study to escape all but Lizzy.

X [w] nerves

Body

Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park, Mrs. Churchill and above all Mr. Woodhouse in Emma become hypochondriacal as a means of exercising control. Such ailments as "poor nerves" afford women a way to compensate for their lack of legal power and intellectual respect in a patriarchy.…

(read more)

X [w] quick parts

Mind

Wit and intelligence. He describes Lizzy as having "something more of quickness than her sisters." The use of the same word, "quick," indicates the bond between father and daughter.

X [w] less difficult to develop

Unfold; unwrap.

X [d] mean understanding

Writing & Reading

Paltry, limited. Mrs. Bennet's intellectual, social, and moral life is reducible to three activities: getting her daughters married, visiting, and news of the gossip sort.

Austen judges her characters openly, unsentimentally, and reliably. The novels' depiction of secondary figures has less to do with their character than the consequences of it for those with whom they associate. O…

(read more)

X [h] The business of her life was to get her daugh…

Love & Marriage

Having five unmarried daughters and a husband possessed of little besides irony and the inadequate sum of ₤5000 total means hers is very much a "business." If she is over-active, we sympathize, for she must also compensate for a nearly inert husband. Austen will have much to say about marriage and money, means, too, that marriage itself for that class comprises a business. It was, after all, called a marriage market.