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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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One morning, about a week after Bingley's engagement with Jane had been formed, as he and the females of the family were sitting together in the dining-room, their attention was suddenly drawn to the window by the sound of a carriage; and they perceived a chaise-and-four driving up the lawn. It was too early in the morning for visitors, and besides, the equipage did not answer to that of any of their neighbours. The horses were post; and neither the carriage nor the livery of the servant who preceded it were familiar to them. As it was certain, however, that somebody was coming, Bingley instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery. They both set off, and the conjectures of the remaining three continued, though with little satisfaction, till the door was thrown open, and their visitor entered. It was Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

  • Bingley, having a non-confrontational personality, avoided the visitors.
  • Lady Catherine rushed to Elizabeth – a most impetuous foolish act.
  • She is not in a position to summon her.
  • The right thing is to contact Darcy. She is weak there.
  • Exercising authority where there is none indicates the vanishing authority. She does it foolishly, crudely, tactlessly. It shows her mission is foredoomed.
  • Bingley’s proposal raises Longbourn and that brings in Lady Catherine. Bingley escapes. (Pitch defiles. Once Elizabeth was given the patronage of Lady Catherine, she has an access to Elizabeth’s life.)
  • Lydia’s episode opens Elizabeth’s eyes to her low status. She then aspires to rise by Pemberley. Lady Catherine seems to sense that aspiration and tries to put her down

56 carriage Pride and Prejudice.jpg

They were of course all intending to be surprised; but their astonishment was beyond their expectation, and on the part of Mrs. Bennet and Kitty, though she was perfectly unknown to them, even inferior to what Elizabeth felt.

  • Entered the room with more than an ungracious air.
  • It always loses.
  • Made no reply to Elizabeth’s salutation.
  • In that case, she ensures no help will come of Elizabeth.
  • A sight inclination of the head.
  • Compare Elizabeth’s reception of her arguments to the inclination.
  • Entered the room with more than an ungracious air.
  • It always loses.
  • Made no reply to Elizabeth’s salutation.
  • In that case, she ensures no help will come of Elizabeth.
  • A sight inclination of the head.
  • Compare Elizabeth’s reception of her arguments to the inclination.

She entered the room with an air more than usually ungracious, made no other reply to Elizabeth's salutation, than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without saying a word. Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her mother on her ladyship's entrance, though no request of introduction had been made.

  • Introductions without request are no introductions.
  • She goes away without taking leave of her mother.

Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received her with the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said, very stiffly, to Elizabeth --

  • Amazement makes her speechless.
  • When she wanted to know from Elizabeth, Elizabeth was speechless – Did not tell her the fact.
  • Stiffness communicates, not the news.

"I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose, is your mother?"

  • It is an insult, precursor to Elizabeth’s insults.

Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was.


"And that, I suppose, is one of your sisters?"

  • Lady Catherine did not look at her.
  • Elizabeth did not countenance her arguments.

"Yes, madam," said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a Lady Catherine. "She is my youngest girl but one, my youngest of all is lately married; and my eldest is somewhere about the grounds, walking with a young man, who, I believe, will soon become a part of the family."

  • Mrs. Bennet is intrusive.
  • Appropriate reflection of the Lady’s intrusion.

"You have a very small park here," returned Lady Catherine, after a short silence.

  • Small Park.
  • Puts them down – went away put down by Elizabeth.

"It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare say; but, I assure you, it is much larger than Sir William Lucas's."


"This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening in summer: the windows are full west."


Mrs. Bennet assured her that they never sat there after dinner, and then added --


"May I take the liberty of asking your ladyship whether you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins well."


"Yes, very well. I saw them the night before last."


Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter for her from Charlotte, as it seemed the only probable motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was completely puzzled.

  • Elizabeth expected a letter.
  • They are all out of context, as the initiative of the Lady.

Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to take some refreshment; but Lady Catherine very resolutely, and not very politely, declined eating anything; and then rising up, said to Elizabeth --


"Miss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of your lawn. I should be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company."


"Go, my dear," cried her mother, "and shew her ladyship about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with the hermitage."

  • To abuse her she asks for a favour!

Elizabeth obeyed, and, running into her own room for her parasol, attended her noble guest downstairs. As they passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors into the dining-parlour and drawing-room, and pronouncing them, after a short survey, to be decent looking rooms, walked on.

  • Mrs. Bennet calls her home a hermitage!

Her carriage remained at the door, and Elizabeth saw that her waiting-woman was in it. They proceeded in silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse; Elizabeth was determined to make no effort for conversation with a woman who was now more than usually insolent and disagreeable.

  • Any appreciation of any kind will make an abusive mission lose.

"How could I ever think her like her nephew?" Said she, as she looked in her face.

  • Determined to make no conversation.
  • Right decision.
  • Lady Catherine brought them virulence and disagreeableness.
  • She took them back.

As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began in the following manner: --

  • Lady Catherine’s definition of sincerity is “I am right”. In other words, the aristocracy is right and “I represent aristocracy”. A weak person can use effectively his strong position is the false idea. The truth of life is in such a situation life offers the opposite result. Here that is the case
  • Elizabeth’s answers to Lady Catherine are characterised by courage, resourcefulness and a release of the energy of her abusive genius. Her mother’s effusions of illiberal intensity have transformed in her as abusive genius. Her polite patience at Rosings are the seeds for her unbridled eloquence at Longbourn

56 lady Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"You can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason of my journey hither. Your own heart, your own conscience, must tell you why I come."

  • The ball is in her court, she tries to pass it on to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked with unaffected astonishment.


"Indeed, you are mistaken, madam. I have not been at all able to account for the honour of seeing you here."

  • Rightly Elizabeth did not take it, as she could not.

"Miss Bennet," replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, "you ought to know that I am not to be trifled with. But, however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this I shall certainly not depart from it. A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would in all likelihood be soon afterwards united to my nephew -- my own nephew -- Mr. Darcy. Though I know it must be a scandalous falsehood -- though I would not injure him so much as to suppose the truth of it possible, I instantly resolved on setting off for this place, that I might make my sentiments known to you."

  • For Elizabeth not knowing her intention the Lady asks her not to trifle with her.
  • She fights an opposition that is not there, as she has come to contradict a non-existent rumour.
  • She was annoyed that Elizabeth and Charlotte had known Darcy. That is her possessiveness.
  • Here is a question of fact of Elizabeth not knowing, where is the question of sincerity?
  • The report is out of the resourcefulness of Mr. Collins and the Lucases.
  • Lady Catherine’s anger is like them, empty fury, only that it is bumptious.
  • The report is out of the resourcefulness of Mr. Collins and the Lucases.
  • Lady Catherine’s anger is like them, empty fury, only that it is bumptious.
  • Even Jane’s marriage alarms her. Perhaps her status is threatened.
  • She came to make Elizabeth talk and finds herself talking.
  • Even Jane’s marriage alarms her. Perhaps her status is threatened.
  • She came to make Elizabeth talk and finds herself talking.

"If you believed it impossible to be true," said Elizabeth, colouring with astonishment and disdain, "I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far. What could your ladyship propose by it?"

  • Scandalous falsehood – used a second time.
  • My sentiments known to you – Has no other purpose than letting off steam.
  • Elizabeth points out the Lady is childish by coming there.

"At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted."


"Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family," said Elizabeth coolly, "will be rather a confirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence."

  • She wants to contradict by visiting Elizabeth.
  • The Lucases see a possibility and want it to be scotched even now. Having invited Elizabeth, as usual, Charlotte regrets the possibility.
  • Good Will is often half-hearted. In that case, it contradicts.
  • Invitation is subconscious, irritation is conscious.
  • The surface is irritated by a good subconscious urge.

"If! Do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? Has it not been industriously circulated by yourselves? Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad?"


"I never heard that it was."


"And can you likewise declare, that there is no foundation for it?"


"I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer."


"This is not to be borne! Miss Bennet, I insist on being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of marriage?"


"Your ladyship has declared it to be impossible."


"It ought to be so; it must be so, while he retains the use of his reason. But your arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his family. You may have drawn him in."

  • When her commands were disregarded, she seeks gratitude and finally descends to slander, the route of defeated strength

"If I have, I shall be the last person to confess it."


"Miss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been accustomed to such language as this. I am almost the nearest relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all his dearest concerns."

  • Lady Catherine’s threat will certainly work with timid girls.

But you are not entitled to know mine; nor will such behaviour as this ever induce me to be explicit."


"Let me be rightly understood. This match, to which you have the presumption to aspire, can never take place. No, never. Mr. Darcy is engaged to my daughter. Now, what have you to say?"


"Only this: that if he is so, you can have no reason to suppose he will make an offer to me."

  • As she has no strength of position, she resorts to an argument.

Lady Catherine hesitated for a moment, and then replied --


"The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family! Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends -- to his tacit engagement with Miss De Bourgh? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy? Have you not heard me say, that from his earliest hours he was destined for his cousin?"

  • The Lady’s argument is like every establishment trying to survive when its life is lost.

"Yes, and I had heard it before. But what is that to me? If there is no other objection to my marrying your nephew, I shall certainly not be kept from it by knowing that his mother and aunt wished him to marry Miss De Bourgh. You both did as much as you could, in planning the marriage; its completion depended on others. If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?"

  • Elizabeth, as when she abused Darcy, is in her elements.

"Because honour, decorum, prudence -- nay, interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised by every one connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us."

  • Lady Catherine has no single argument in her favour.

"These are heavy misfortunes," replied Elizabeth. "But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine."


"Obstinate, headstrong girl! I am ashamed of you! Is this your gratitude for my attentions to you last spring? Is nothing due to me on that score?


"Let us sit down. You are to understand, Miss Bennet, that I came here with the determined resolution of carrying my purpose; nor will I be dissuaded from it. I have not been used to submit to any person's whims. I have not been in the habit of brooking disappointment."


"That will make your ladyship's situation at present more pitiable; but it will have no effect on me."


"I will not be interrupted! Hear me in silence. My daughter and my nephew are formed for each other. They are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and on the father's, from respectable, honourable, and ancient, though untitled families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connexions, or fortune. Is this to be endured? But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up."


"In marrying your nephew I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter: so far we are equal."


"True. You are a gentleman's daughter. But who was your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not imagine me ignorant of their condition."


"Whatever my connexions may be," said Elizabeth, "if your nephew does not object to them, they can be nothing to you."


"Tell me, once for all, are you engaged to him?"


Though Elizabeth would not, for the mere purpose of obliging Lady Catherine, have answered this question, she could not but say, after a moment's deliberation, "I am not."


Lady Catherine seemed pleased.


"And will you promise me never to enter into such an engagement?"


"I will make no promise of the kind."


"Miss Bennet, I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a more reasonable young woman. But do not deceive yourself into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away till you have given me the assurance I require."

  • To be reasonable for Lady Catherine is to do what she says.

"And I certainly never shall give it. I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable. Your ladyship wants Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the wished-for promise, make their marriage at all more probable? Supposing him to be attached to me, would my refusing to accept his hand make him wish to bestow it on his cousin? Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application have been as frivolous as the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you have certainly no right to concern yourself in mine. I must beg, therefore, to be importuned no farther on the subject."

  • Lady Catherine’s asking for a promise not to accept a proposal of Darcy shows the ‘proposal’ has strength.

"Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all: that the young man's marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncle. And is such a girl to be my nephew's sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father's steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth -- of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?"

  • When there is no strength, she moves to arguments and finding they are of no avail, she resorts to abuse.

"You can now have nothing farther to say," she resentfully answered. "You have insulted me in every possible method. I must beg to return to the house."


And she rose as she spoke. Lady Catherine rose also, and they turned back. Her ladyship was highly incensed.

  • It is right Elizabeth walked away.

"You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connexion with you, must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?"


"Lady Catherine, I have nothing farther to say. You know my sentiments."


"You are then resolved to have him?"


"I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me."


"It is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude. You are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world."


"Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude," replied Elizabeth, "has any possible claim on me in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment's concern -- and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn."


"And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but depend upon it, I will carry my point."


In this manner Lady Catherine talked on till they were at the door of the carriage, when, turning hastily round, she added --


"I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased."


Elizabeth made no answer, and, without attempting to persuade her ladyship to return into the house, walked quietly into it herself. She heard the carriage drive away as she proceeded up stairs. Her mother impatiently met her at the door of the dressing-room, to ask why Lady Catherine would not come in again and rest herself.


"She did not chuse it," said her daughter; "she would go."


"She is a very fine-looking woman! And her calling here was prodigiously civil! For she only came, I suppose, to tell us the Collinses were well. She is on her road somewhere, I dare say, and so, passing through Meryton, thought she might as well call on you. I suppose she had nothing particular to say to you, Lizzy?"

  • Her abuse is prodigiously civil to Mrs. Bennet.

Elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of their conversation was impossible.

56 elizabeth Pride and Prejudice.jpg

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