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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Mr. Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of his successful love; for Mrs. Bennet, having dawdled about in the vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner saw Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her towards the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room, and congratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy prospect of their nearer connexion. Mr. Collins received and returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then proceeded to relate the particulars of their interview, with the result of which he trusted he had every reason to be satisfied, since the refusal which his cousin had stedfastly given him would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy of her character.

  • Mrs. Bennet will happily sit in the conference and dictate to both of them what they should speak.
  • Mrs. Bennet takes for granted the outcome of the meeting.
  • Idiocy is fortified by the belief of ever-present success.
  • Mrs. Bennet does not wait for the report. She was close on their heels. To her it was a foregone conclusion. Mrs. Bennet could not believe her ears. She wants to order everyone according to her ideas. What failed with Collins worked with Jane. That is the only method she knew. Sometimes it works also by default. Having been used to the constant compliance of Mr.Bennet she takes for granted that Collins too will be like that. What she proposed with Elizabeth, rightly alienated Collins for ever. There is nothing subtle about Mrs. Bennet. It is all direct talking
  • We see both Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins are of the same type
  • Hers, Austen says, is an illiberal mind; his is one of conceit.

This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet; she would have been glad to be equally satisfied that her daughter had meant to encourage him by protesting against his proposals, but she dared not to believe it, and could not help saying so.


"But depend upon it, Mr. Collins," she added, "that Lizzy shall be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it myself directly. She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not know her own interest; but I will make her know it."

  • Mrs.Bennet tries to make Lizzy accept Collins by the influence of Mr.Bennet. It produces the very opposite results. She could only think of her husband doing what she wants never otherwise. He was a British husband to whom the only way to treat a woman is to be soft to her
  • Mrs. Bennet recommends her headstrong and foolish daughter to Collins.

"Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If, therefore, she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity."

  • Life has a fuse in every foolish act to destroy it. Equally, it provides for a link to complete every intelligent act.
  • Mr. Collins gives up Elizabeth on knowing her to be headstrong.
  • Wickham goes to Mrs. Young which enables Darcy to find him.

"Sir, you quite misunderstand me," said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed. "Lizzy is only headstrong in such matters as these. In everything else she is as good-natured a girl as ever lived. I will go directly to Mr. Bennet, and we shall very soon settle it with her, I am sure."

  • The illogical person too has his logic.
  • Mr. Bennet is there only to do what she wants.

She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to her husband, called out as she entered the library, "Oh! Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him, and if you do not make haste he will change his mind and not have her."

  • The other man has no right for any view.
  • ‘Come and do what I want’ says the stupid person to all the world.
  • This is the view of ignorance organised into idiocy in Matter.
  • His capacity not to discipline his wife had the otherside of his retiring into his library. As the indulgence is great so the refusal too is great, Lizzy is his favourite child. All his laxity with his wife cannot extend to ruin Lizzy’s life. That is too much. Mrs. Bennet, of course, does not think. She only acts and wants everyone to act as she wishes. It worked her for 25 non-stop years. He went to call on Bingley to oblige his wife against his natural inclination. He would send Lydia to Brighton as he would not cross her wishes. When Bingley departed, she would not know whom to blame as life has not acted according to her wishes. She wanted it to rain when Jane was on her way to Netherfield. She gloated over her scheming when Jane fell ill and stayed at Netherfield. She would not send the coach to bring her back. She was a lady self-willed. In her own marriage she had her way. Now she expects everything to go her way. All of us are like that unless life checkmates. Here he puts his foot down and acts on his own and says he would not see Lizzy if she marries Collins as she says she would not see Lizzy if she refuses him. Had he shown that determination in refusing to send Lydia to Brighton, the catastrophe would not have happened
  • Till then, she did not bring the husband into the project. The family is hers, he is there as an instrument. This is the only view of any selfish person who senses a little scope.
  • Blindness to all others is selfishness.

20 mrb Pride and Prejudice.jpg

Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in the least altered by her communication.

  • Not to be affected by what she does is his lifelong discipline.

"I have not the pleasure of understanding you," said he, when she had finished her speech. "Of what are you talking?"

  • Mr. Bennet does not know of the project at all.

"Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to say that he will not have Lizzy."

  • Her thinking came to an end and she speaks the facts.

"And what am I to do on the occasion? -- It seems an hopeless business."

  • He draws a petulant joy besides being helpless.

"Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him."

  • For 25 years she was used to his not interfering; now she asks him to act as her docile instrument.

"Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion."

  • He gives her no promise.

Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library.


"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well -- and this offer of marriage you have refused?"


"I have, sir."


"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is not it so Mrs. Bennet?"

  • He reports to Elizabeth her mother’s opinion without comment.

"Yes, or I will never see her again."

  • Mrs. Bennet, encouraged by the turn of events, offers not to speak to her if she refuses.
  • Any power, real or illusory, finds total employment.

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

  • It is a moment of triumph for Mr. Bennet to thwart the wife.

Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs. Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively disappointed.

  • She does not sufficiently protest the action of Mr. Bennet.
  • Foolishness seeks support from the enemy.

"What do you mean, Mr. Bennet, by talking in this way? You promised me to insist upon her marrying him."

  • She said he had promised, while he had not.
  • His presence at home is a standing promise to do what she wants.
  • He never relates to her and she accepts his non-interference. It is the life of a helpless British husband not out of incapacity but out of choice.

"My dear," replied her husband, "I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be."


Not yet, however, in spite of her disappointment in her husband, did Mrs. Bennet give up the point. She talked to Elizabeth again and again; coaxed and threatened her by turns. She endeavoured to secure Jane in her interest; but Jane, with all possible mildness, declined interfering; and Elizabeth, sometimes with real earnestness, and sometimes with playful gaiety, replied to her attacks. Though her manner varied, however, her determination never did.

  • It is not in her to give up any point.
  • The physical cannot give up unless and until it is given up.
  • The mother and daughter each in her own way remain firm.
  • Authority accomplishes. Nothing else. Mr.Bennet refused to exert. In the absence of her husband’s authority, all her persuasions of Lizzy either draws a reply or a playful remark
  • Coaxing and threatening go together.

Mr. Collins, meanwhile, was meditating in solitude on what had passed. He thought too well of himself to comprehend on what motive his cousin could refuse him; and though his pride was hurt, he suffered in no other way. His regard for her was quite imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her mother's reproach prevented his feeling any regret.

  • A fool is always surprised at a failure since he contemplates only success because of the narrowness of the vision.
  • Foolishness arises out of self-sufficiency.

While the family were in this confusion, Charlotte Lucas came to spend the day with them. She was met in the vestibule by Lydia, who, flying to her, cried in a half-whisper, "I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here! What do you think has happened this morning? -- Mr. Collins has made an offer to Lizzy, and she will not have him." 20 charlotte arrives Pride and Prejudice.jpg

  • Confusion is the indecision of the energy. Charlotte is clear-headed about these things. Naturally she arrives there.
  • The first thought when Charlotte heard Lizzy would not have Mr. Collins is she can very well have him.
  • To Charlotte any bachelor is an eligible bachelor. Only that she feels no right to expect any man to take interest in her at the age of 27. she can long for a man, but it is not in the scheme of her things. The rule is even the weakest can accomplish if the circumstances favour and the object rises to the occasion with the right attitudes. Here Collins is disappointed and mortified, feels hurt and would act readily to save his honour. His personality has the energy of foolish intensity. Thus a favourable situation has arisen to Charlotte. She can with a strategy of patiently listening to Collins which highly gratified his wounded dignity. Circumstances favour Charlotte as she has good will to Elizabeth and is armed with common sense. She is the one who feels the man of money has the right to offend. Such an attitude right after the blunt refusal of Elizabeth will be soothing to the jangled nerves of Collins

Charlotte had hardly time to answer before they were joined by Kitty, who came to tell the same news; and no sooner had they entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs. Bennet was alone, than she likewise began on the subject, calling on Miss Lucas for her compassion, and entreating her to persuade her friend Lizzy to comply with the wishes of all her family. "Pray do, my dear Miss Lucas," she added in a melancholy tone, "for nobody is on my side, nobody takes part with me; I am cruelly used, nobody feels for my poor nerves."

  • Three people giving the news of Lizzy’s refusal is invitation enough for her to think of herself in Lizzy’s place.
  • Mrs Bennet asks Miss Lucas to persuade Lizzy to comply with the wishes of all the family. All the family to her is herself. We cannot call Mrs Bennet selfish as it is an attitude of a person who sees two attitudes and chooses the one that is selfish. She is a strong dynamic physical self who knows only herself. Even at that level, her passion for the marriage of her daughters is answered three fold. Charlotte has the vital resourcefulness that at once figures out an advantage for itself. She is not cunning or artful. It is a master stroke for her to see in one glance the opportunity for her. She has already qualified for this gift by her good will expressed to Elizabeth and Jane. She is endowed with mercenary common sense. What she gets in Collins is what she is exactly. It is worth noting that Elizabeth and Kitty persuade her to take Collins home as she has persuaded Elizabeth and Jane earlier. She is humble and self-effacing too. She tells Jane that she must let Bingley know of her liking. Now she has an opportunity to practise it herself. It worked successfully in 24 hours. Our study will be complete if we understand her marriage in the light of every attitude and action of hers since the beginning of the story
  • The fool thinks he is universally approved. Only when he fails even out of his own folly, he thinks everyone has deserted him.

Charlotte's reply was spared by the entrance of Jane and Elizabeth. 20 charlotte Pride and Prejudice.jpg

  • Three people gave the news of Lizzy’s refusal. Charlotte is prevented from replying by the arrival of two people. She marries Collins. Here is a clue.

"Ay, there she comes," continued Mrs. Bennet, "looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way. But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy -- if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all -- and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead. I shall not be able to keep you -- and so I warn you. I have done with you from this very day. I told you in the library, you know, that I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my word. I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful children. Not that I have much pleasure, indeed, in talking to anybody. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can have no great inclination for talking. Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied."

  • “I shall not be able to keep you” says Mrs Bennet to Elizabeth. It is Elizabeth who rights the wrong done by Mrs Bennet by having Lydia married. It is a rule that those who are obliged to others will speak as if the others are obliged to them. It is Mrs.Bennet who is obliged to Elizabeth. She talks as if Elizabeth is taken care of by her
  • Mrs. Bennet offered not to speak to Lizzy, said she has done with her and she is unable to go to Pemberley.

Her daughters listened in silence to this effusion, sensible that any attempt to reason with or sooth her would only increase the irritation. She talked on, therefore, without interruption from any of them, till they were joined by Mr. Collins, who entered with an air more stately than usual, and on perceiving whom she said to the the girls, "Now, I do insist upon it, that you, all of you hold your tongues, and let Mr. Collins and me have a little conversation together."

  • Parental authority is great.
  • Mother and four daughters with Charlotte receiving Mr. Collins seems to offer her to him.
  • “Any attempt to reason with or sooth her would only increase her irritation”. Attention is energizing. Trying to reason will energise Mrs Bennet. She is irritation. This energy will only increase the irritation she is. It is a great rule, “Mr.Collins, whose enquiries after herself and all her family were very minute”. Here Collins takes after Lady Catherine whose condescension takes this form

Elizabeth passed quietly out of the room, Jane and Kitty followed, but Lydia stood her ground, determined to hear all she could; and Charlotte, detained first by the civility of Mr. Collins, whose inquiries after herself and all her family were very minute, and then by a little curiosity, satisfied herself with walking to the window and pretending not to hear. In a doleful voice Mrs. Bennet thus began the projected conversation: -- "Oh! Mr. Collins!"

  • Lydia stood her ground with Charlotte.
  • Lydia is the link between Collins and Charlotte.
  • Charlotte was not ashamed of overhearing.
  • Those were days in England when overhearing was the fashion.
  • Charlotte overhears Collins withdrawing from Mrs Bennet’s family. Now, she sees, the field is open to her. This is a rule of accomplishment by which the least person can substantially accomplish in the right circumstances by the right approach. Collins was stung. He craves for attention. Charlotte offers him venerable solicitude. He readily falls for her saying she was made for him

"My dear madam," replied he, "let us be for ever silent on this point. Far be it from me," he presently continued, in a voice that marked his displeasure, "to resent the behaviour of your daughter. Resignation to inevitable evils is the duty of us all; the peculiar duty of a young man who has been so fortunate as I have been in early preferment; and I trust I am resigned. Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt of my positive happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in our estimation. You will not, I hope, consider me as shewing any disrespect to your family, my dear madam, by thus withdrawing my pretensions to your daughter's favour, without having paid yourself and Mr. Bennet the compliment of requesting you to interpose your authority in my behalf. My conduct may, I fear, be objectionable in having accepted my dismission from your daughter's lips instead of your own. But we are all liable to error. I have certainly meant well through the whole affair. My object has been to secure an amiable companion for myself, with due consideration for the advantage of all your family, and if my manner has been at all reprehensible, I here beg leave to apologise."

  • Charlotte hearing firsthand Collins’ opinion, the coast was clear to her.
  • Collins is pompous. His entry was pompous. Now his withdrawal is ceremonies. We see in the stupidity of Collins a certain animal intelligence of shrewdness that readily knows where its advantage lies
  • His speech to Mrs. Bennet is a proposal to Charlotte in the subtle plane.

20 collins leaves Pride and Prejudice.jpg

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