Human Science
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This commentary was prepared by Karmayogi of The Mother’s Service Society (India). See or MSS Research. The Comments column is intended for brief insightful remarks on the text. For longer comments or questions use the Talk page of this article or create a new article and add a link in the comments section of this page or under the appropriate heading on P&P project mainpage.

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"I hope, my dear," said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next morning, "that you have ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to expect an addition to our family party."

  • Incoming undefined information takes each mind to its own interest

"Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure, unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in -- and I hope my dinners are good enough for her. I do not believe she often sees such at home."

  • Comparing oneself favourably against inferiors is a consolation

"The person of whom I speak is a gentleman, and a stranger."


Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled. "A gentleman and a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley, I am sure. Why, Jane -- you never dropt a word of this; you sly thing! Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley. -- But -- good lord! How unlucky! There is not a bit of fish to be got to-day. Lydia, my love, ring the bell. I must speak to Hill this moment."

  • Any new information brings to the mind of the hearer what is important for him.
  • Mrs. Bennet is full of energy ready to explode into activity

"It is not Mr. Bingley," said her husband; "it is a person whom I never saw in the whole course of my life."

  • Mr. Bennet has to create little occasions for small pleasure.

This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly questioned by his wife and five daughters at once. -- After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained --

  • An expectant person expects endlessly.
  • The only amusement for Mr. Bennet is to expose his wife before his children
  • It is a family full of happy energy unoccupied
  • An indolent man who enjoys no domestic felicity needs some amusement.

"About a month ago I received this letter; and about a fortnight ago I answered it, for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention. It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases."

  • He who takes 15 days to reply to a letter is certainly tamasic.
  • Mr. Bennet is indolent. He replies to a letter after 15 days. No wonder in a lazy atmosphere no marriages take place
  • Indolence goes with caustic sarcasm.

"Oh! My dear," cried his wife, "I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk of that odious man. I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed away from your own children; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should have tried long ago to do something or other about it."

  • Ignorant Mrs. Bennet takes exception to the entail. Vehemence comes from ignorance
  • Lack of understanding makes lack of reason violent
  • A man is odious not by what he is but by what he is to us.
  • Entrenched ignorance is entertaining.
  • Those who vehemently oppose can reverse when the situation changes
  • How many times one can change sides is limitless
  • Mrs. Bennet is offended not by Mr. Collins, but by her own position.

Jane and Elizabeth attempted to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had often attempted it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet was beyond the reach of reason, and she continued to rail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an estate away from a family of five daughters, in favour of a man whom nobody cared anything about.

  • One can explain to ignorance, not to people of ununderstanding.
  • Mrs. Bennet was beyond not reason but simple facts.

"It certainly is a most iniquitous affair," said Mr. Bennet, "and nothing can clear Mr. Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn. But if you will listen to his letter, you may perhaps be a little softened by his manner of expressing himself."

  • To accuse another for what one is, is the characteristic of stupidity

"No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it was very impertinent of him to write to you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends. Why could not he keep on quarrelling with you, as his father did before him?"

  • What is inconvenient to her is impertinence in him.
  • To keep Collins away, she will want him to maintain the quarrel.

"Why, indeed; he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you will hear."


"Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October.

  • Mr. Collins’s goodwill to Mr. Bennet’s family finally made him a relation of Lady Catherine.
  • The small that is low delights in squeamish snobbishness.
  • The very mouth that speaks of Lady Catherine will delight in it.
  • Volubility is the hallmark of a mind devoid of ideas.
  • Stupidity offers explanations the other man never needs.
  • Self-consciousness is marked in characters who are incapable of knowing others

13 collins Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"DEAR SIR, -- The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father always gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have frequently wished to heal the breach; but for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, fearing lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with any one, with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance. -- "There, Mrs. Bennet." -- My mind, however is now made up on the subject, for having received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England. As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my present overtures of goodwill are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered olive-branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends -- but of this hereafter. If you should have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the satisfaction of waiting on you and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four o'clock, and shall probably trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday se'nnight following, which I can do without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on a Sunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day. -- I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher and friend, "William Collins."

  • Filial scruples helped him to miss Elizabeth.
  • The quarrel between the parents prevails
  • Erstwhile disagreements are best not mentioned.
  • Displeasure of one generation dissolves in the next. It is usual, not inimical to the departed spirit, but to do its work now.
  • Bounty received from nobility urges him to be noble.
  • Clownishness, deceit, meanness are some traits that cannot be compensated in the personality by money or wealth.
  • Collins is not one who can be married by any normal girl.
  • Consciousness of one’s profession means he is professionally unqualified.
  • An excessive rhetoric implies lack of inner content.
  • His letter tries to excel his position and attitude.
  • Sensitivity demands not mentioning sensitive topics.
  • Excessive apology is a crude offence.

"At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman," said Mr. Bennet, as he folded up the letter. "He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word, and I doubt not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again."

  • Mr. Bennet’s sarcastic comments are not in the best of taste.

"There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however, and if he is disposed to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him."

  • In knowing how one’s interests are affected, people are generally keen.
  • Even stupid people never miss the possible benefit
  • Mrs. Bennet, physical as she is, readily recognises her benefit in him

"Though it is difficult," said Jane, "to guess in what way he can mean to make us the atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit."

  • Jane is excellent to see only the positive side of an issue.
  • Jane’s innocence springs from ignorance
  • Jane’s confusion is a direct revelation of her stupid innocence

Elizabeth was chiefly struck with his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine, and his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it were required.

  • Elizabeth is capable of knowing his character from the letter
  • Collins’s artificiality comes home to Elizabeth directly

"He must be an oddity, I think," said she, "I cannot make him out. There is something very pompous in his style. -- And what can he mean by apologizing for being next in the entail? -- We cannot suppose he would help it if he could. -- Can he be a sensible man, sir?"

  • Elizabeth at once gets a sense of his personality.

"No, my dear; I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him."

  • Servility readily joins self-importance

"In point of composition," said Mary, "his letter does not seem defective. The idea of the olive branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well expressed."

  • Mary misses his character, sees the composition.
  • Trying to know the world from reading ends in a fiasco.

To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree interesting. It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any other colour. As for their mother, Mr. Collins's letter had done away much of her ill-will, and she was preparing to see him with a degree of composure which astonished her husband and daughters.

  • To know Kitty and Lydia are outside the context of Collins is to know the family.
  • Empty heads love empty aspects
  • That Mr. Bennet was astonished at the change in his wife shows what an uxorious husband he is.

Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters; said he had heard much of their beauty, but that in this instance fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time well disposed of in marriage. This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who quarrelled with no compliments, answered most readily --

  • Even meaningless men in England are punctual. A certain value becomes a national trait when the least of them honours it.
  • In Collins one sees how the externals leave the inner character untouched.
  • Mr. Collins may be a buffoon. But he too is punctual.
  • In receiving and sendoffs Mr. Bennet’s family comes out in fully
  • Politeness and conscientiousness need a seat of culture. In their absence it makes him obsequious.
  • Rank is valued more than the wealth. When both combine it is the last word

"You are very kind, sir, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly."

  • Mrs. Bennet comes to the one topic to be avoided.
  • As the course of events proved, her deep concern, though explained inappropriately, was honoured by life.
  • Words do not wait in an untempered Mind

"You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."

  • Collins too, instead of avoiding the entail, elaborates on it.

"Ah! Sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world. There is no knowing how estates will go when once they come to be entailed."


"I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say more, but perhaps when we are better acquainted -- -- "

  • Mr. Collins’s words do not come through experience
  • Mrs. Bennet involuntarily embarrasses Collins.
  • To open an unpleasant topic and apologize for it is awkward manners

He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet's heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellence of its cookery was owing. But here he was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.

  • It is worthwhile finding the significance of life interfering like this. At this point, life does not permit their combined folly beyond this.
  • The atmosphere of the house does not permit embarrassment beyond a limit.
  • In differing contexts, appreciation can change into criticism.
  • Collins’ compliments on the food make the girls cooks.
  • Folly takes flattery appreciation.
  • The impulse of the low towards the high expands in appreciation.
  • The compliment of the low can become an insult to the high.
  • Lack of culture not only rubs on the wrong side but offends by offering an intellectual explanation for that rubbing.
  • Culture of the low reveals itself as unintentional offence to the high.
  • Culture absorbs the uncultured by remaining unoffended by their unintended inadvertence

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