Pride and Prejudice: Reading Analysis 1

[General,Research] (02.06.09, 5:30 pm)

Reading analysis 1

This is my first reading analysis. It will be followed up later by a design. This step is intended to examine the subject material in the attempt to understand what is taking place, so that a design of a model may be possible. The task of analysis is dependent on the design, though. The analysis requires thinking of the text in terms of a system of structures. Design and analysis exist in a cyclic relationship.

To review a bit, this project is oriented toward creating a game adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In order to implement this project, we must develop a model of the story world, and be able to simulate that model. However, the process of constructing a model is an important and delicate task. Models can convey value systems, and choices in the model design may restrict the expressive capacity of the work. In computer science, the models of traditional AI have had philosophical baggage which has been carried into nearly every AI project for good or ill. It is not my goal in this discussion to critique other forms of models, but to analyze the text of Pride and Prejudice so that a model may be drawn. It is necessary to come to the table of analysis with something, however.

In my analysis, I would like to examine the text with some degree of freshness, but I must take some clear approach to my investigation. Firstly, I wish to analyze scenes with the understanding that they are subdivided into spaces, characters, and props. Things that happen in the scenes are actions, but it is more important to understand the actions in terms of the effects that they have to the characters and what is going on in the scene. It is furthermore important to understand these actions in terms of motivations.

I believe that the matter of “what is going on” will be best understood as situations. Characters participate in these situations, and within them, actions have special value. However, the matter of introducing and developing situations is far from clear. Do they change, how flexible are they, are they understood mutually, what are their boundaries, and so on.

It is also worthwhile to note that the goal of the project is not to adapt the text verbatim, but to adapt the world behind the text. The text is clearly necessary, but it gives an incomplete and partial picture. Furthermore, the text also makes use of narrative compression and portrays scenes generally. For a game which may not have the capacity to enact that kind of compression, those scenes will need to be filled out or made brief.

The scene I have chosen to analyze is the ball at Netherfield. This is an extended event which is divided into several distinct scenes. This is the event where Elizabeth’s family makes an embarrassing scene that leads to Darcy instrumenting Bingley’s withdrawal from his country estate. This is chapter 1.18. The transcription is provided by Project Gutenberg.

(The formatting came out kind of odd in moving this to WordPress. The rest of the document can be found via Google Docs here)



Till Elizabeth entered the drawing-room at Netherfield, and looked in
vain for Mr. Wickham among the cluster of red coats there assembled, a
doubt of his being present had never occurred to her. The certainty
of meeting him had not been checked by any of those recollections that
might not unreasonably have alarmed her. She had dressed with more than
usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for the conquest of all
that remained unsubdued of his heart, trusting that it was not more than
might be won in the course of the evening.
This is an internal monologue of Elizabeth’s thoughts. She has been looking forward to seeing Wickham and dancing with him at the ball.

The text conveys extra information about the scene: Elizabeth’s dress and spirits are more careful and elevated, and this is an indication of her positive expectations.

Elizabeth’s anxiety is a balance between hopefulness and disappointment. These emotional reactions may be seen as fitting neatly with Ortony, Clore, and Collins.

Wickham’s absence may also be seen as a reflection on his character, but this goes unnoticed by Elizabeth. Wickham had promised to come to the ball, and has retreated on such.

The last line of this suggests developing intentions on part of Elizabeth’s character, suggesting that her dress and spirits may also due to intention, rather than merely expectation.

But in an instant arose
the dreadful suspicion of his being purposely omitted for Mr. Darcy’s
pleasure in the Bingleys’ invitation to the officers; and though
this was not exactly the case, the absolute fact of his absence was
pronounced by his friend Denny, to whom Lydia eagerly applied, and who
told them that Wickham had been obliged to go to town on business the
day before, and was not yet returned; adding, with a significant smile,
“I do not imagine his business would have called him away just now, if
he had not wanted to avoid a certain gentleman here.”
Elizabeth first hypothesizes (suspects) that Wickham had been deliberately excluded from the invitation, which would explain both his absence and reinforce her negative feelings toward Darcy (as wreaking more harm against someone who she likes).

Elizabeth finds from officer Denny that Wickham is absent. The interaction with Denny is some form of motivated gossip.

Denny implicates Darcy, knowing of Darcy and Wickham’s antagonism. Sharing this with Elizabeth (who likes Wickham, and thus imaginably may be disposed against Darcy) is a form of bonding against a common enemy.

Wickham’s absence makes use of a conventional excuse, but one that may be cast as having an alternate motive (avoidance of Darcy).

The interplay of excuses is an important social mechanic.

This part of his intelligence, though unheard by Lydia, was caught by
Elizabeth, and, as it assured her that Darcy was not less answerable for
Wickham’s absence than if her first surmise had been just, every
feeling of displeasure against the former was so sharpened by immediate
disappointment, that she could hardly reply with tolerable civility to
the polite inquiries which he directly afterwards approached to make.
Attendance, forbearance, patience with Darcy, was injury to Wickham. She
was resolved against any sort of conversation with him, and turned away
with a degree of ill-humour which she could not wholly surmount even in
speaking to Mr. Bingley, whose blind partiality provoked her.
The context of this is that Elizabeth’s mood sours due to the absence of Wickham.

Elizabeth blames Darcy for this, projecting the same negativity as if Wickham had been excluded as per her suspicion. To extend her antagonism in this way is a form of blowing the circumstance out of proportion. Her attitude towards Bingley is reduced due to his friendship with Darcy. This is a manifestation of emotions by proxy.

This point Elizabeth’s emotional landscape is unilaterally against Darcy. Any form of support or positivity toward Darcy is perceived as against Wickham, and by extension herself (because she likes him). The actual network of emotions is complex here, that Elizabeth would be angry at Bingley. Not only do the emotions due to Wickham and Darcy extend across four agents- Elizabeth – Wickham – Darcy – Bingley, but they also overrule her other forms of relationships with him, albeit temporarily.

But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect
of her own was destroyed for the evening, it could not dwell long on her
spirits; and having told all her griefs to Charlotte Lucas, whom she had
not seen for a week, she was soon able to make a voluntary transition
to the oddities of her cousin, and to point him out to her particular
To recover her mood, Elizabeth meets up with her friend Charlotte Lucas, to whom she describes her grief. This is another form of motivated gossip, but its intention is to relieve the speaker of unhappiness by communicating it, and, presumably garnering support.

Elizabeth then continues to gossip about Mr. Collins, describing his “oddities”. The motivation of this gossip is arguably to continue relieving her spirits by making light of how Collins is outside of what she considers reasonable behavior. This serves to explain how she is distant to Collins, and that Collins is an outsider to polite social interaction.

The first two dances, however, brought a return of distress;
they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn,
apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being
aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable
partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from
him was ecstasy.
This marks an abrupt shift in circumstance, a form of narrative compression. Elizabeth has moved from speaking to Charlotte Lucas to dancing with Mr. Collins.

Even though this dance is highly undesirable, Elizabeth had promised to dance with Mr. Collins, and must follow through on such. Failure to do so would be extremely inappropriate.

We have a few nice details about Mr. Collins’ conduct: awkward, solemn, not-attending, unaware of his partner. The conduct over the course of a dance has symbolic meaning that indicates an impression of Mr. Collins’ character. Collins’ behavior is odd generally, but the behavior within a dance is specifically meaningful in the situation. It would not make sense to describe Collins as “apologising instead of attending” in other circumstances with quite the same meaning.

Interestingly, Collins’ awkward behavior fills Elizabeth not only with misery, but also with shame. The emotions of joy and misery may be linked to the idea of the dance being a pleasurable activity (with a good partner). However, the emotion of shame indicates a sense of self-responsibility for her circumstances, which is culturally normal, but not exactly logically appropriate.

The release of the dance is ecstatic because of the ending of an undesirable situation.

She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of
Wickham, and of hearing that he was universally liked.
When those dances
were over, …
This passage reflects an intermediary phase in which Elizabeth dances with an officer before returning to Charlotte Lucas. How this dance is initiated is not clear. These dances would represent a longer phase in a simulation, but is cut short and made very brief here.

Functionally, she talks to the officer of Wickham. Exactly what is said is not revealed, but it is indicated positively. Elizabeth learns that the officer likes Wickham, reinforcing her positive impressions.

she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with
her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy who took
her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that,
without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again
immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of
Elizabeth returns to Charlotte Lucas, indicating some pattern of her activity to the reader. Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth’s friend, and interaction with her forms a stable point in an otherwise turbulent situation. It is socially appropriate for them to spend time together. It is also appropriate for groups of ladies to be approached by men and asked for dances.

Darcy appears suddenly, creating surprise in Elizabeth especially. Darcy’s asking for her hand in a dance is a symbolic interaction that is very clearly established. Since Elizabeth is surprised, she is not able to form an excuse for replying in the negative, and thus accepts him. It would have been very rude to turn him down without an excuse. The interplay of politeness relates to a kind of social currency and power.

Elizabeth responds negatively after Darcy leaves, (as it would not be appropriate to do so while he was there), expressing something between shock and distress that she will need to dance with him. Such an interaction would require a confrontation and suppression of her antagonism to Darcy, which is undesirable to her.

Darcy’s asking of Elizabeth to dance is also a significant social gesture, as Darcy’s social status is so much higher than everyone else. If Elizabeth operated according to the expected social rules, she would be delighted to dance with Darcy, and make a positive impression on someone so important.

No indication is given to Darcy’s reaction, but he is imaginably pleased that Elizabeth accepted his offer.

Charlotte tried to console her:

“I dare say you will find him very agreeable.”

“Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find
a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an

When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her
hand, Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper, not to be a
simpleton, and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant
in the eyes of a man ten times his consequence. Elizabeth made no
answer, …

The social ramifications of this dance are emphasized by Charlotte Lucas who has an astute sense of social status.

The first thing Charlotte says is meant to gently assuage Elizabeth’s antagonism. Elizabeth responds very harshly and negatively. But she noticeably does not leave, indicating that this does not make her upset with Charlotte, but just with Darcy. Elizabeth’s response may be seen as a means of taking out her distress (regarding the impending dance) on Charlotte.

Elizabeth’s response also lays out a fear, of both liking (or at least, finding agreeable) Darcy, as well as hating him for his alleged wounds to Wickham. This is precisely the situation that evolves, though.

Before Darcy comes to lead her to the dance, Charlotte also continues to give Elizabeth advice. Charlotte’s advice can be considered motivated by genuine interest in Elizabeth’s happiness, and also by a desire to impress on her the model by which social status works, and the values therein.

Charlotte’s advice is precisely for Elizabeth to consider her antagonism due to her attraction to Wickham as less valuable than the social value of dancing with Darcy. This is precisely rational under the model where the girls would wish to marry well. Because Elizabeth does not abide by that model, her reception to Charlotte’s advice is limited.

It is worthwhile to note that no one in the room would suspect that by dancing with Darcy, the two would develop a fondness for each other and marry, but instead it is a tremendous contextual raising of Elizabeth’s social stature. To have had danced with Darcy, Elizabeth would stand a better chance of marrying well, because of her associations with high society.

and took her place in the set, amazed at the dignity to which
she was arrived in being allowed to stand opposite to Mr. Darcy, and
reading in her neighbours’ looks, their equal amazement in beholding
it. They stood for some time without speaking a word; and she began to
imagine that their silence was to last through the two dances, and at
first was resolved not to break it; till suddenly fancying that it would
be the greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she made
some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was again
The social consequences of standing next to Darcy in the dance are immediate, evidenced by attention and looks from the neighbors in the room.

The issue of conversation versus silence in a dance is a matter of social awkwardness versus comfortability. I do not know what the conventions are in dancing regarding conversation. Silence is comfortable to Elizabeth, and she suspects that it would be comfortable to Darcy as well. Valuing his lack of comfort above her own, she decides to speak. This is not an indication of any plan on her part, but a spontaneous decision aimed at inflicting awkwardness and grief.

The actual conversation that occurs is not revealed to us, only its trivial nature. The important aspect about this conversation is not its content, but the circumstantial value of having conversation within the dance in the first place.

After a pause of some minutes, she addressed him a second time
with:—”It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked
about the dance, and you ought to make some sort of remark on the size
of the room, or the number of couples.”

He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be

“Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and by I may
observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. But
now we may be silent.”

In continued conversation, Elizabeth is indicating that Darcy is failing to complete the contract of conversation. This suggests that conversation has the form of A: observation, B: response, B: observation, A: response.

This also has the form of ribbing Darcy, threatening him in the matter of his social graces, but albeit as lightly and with some jest. Elizabeth’s suggestion suggests in jest that Darcy does not know the rules of proper social conduct.

Darcy responds to this (following the rule of proper conversational manners) not by responding directly to Elizabeth’s allegations, as that would lend them some form of credence, but is able to suggest that if Elizabeth is to be the authority on conversational manners, then she may complete the response herself. This is done briefly and lightly. This makes light of Elizabeth’s sudden interest in conversation and its order. This enables Darcy to dodge the threat that Elizabeth poses in her retort.

Thinking generally, other possible conversation options that Darcy might have would have been to follow along and actually say what Elizabeth suggests that he say, but that would lower himself immensely, granting her a great deal of power over him. He could attempt to deny her authority by dismissing her address, which would put Elizabeth down, but he would come off as extremely rude, which is not appropriate for him.

Elizabeth’s response again dodges Darcy’s suggestion that she should fill out his share of the conversation herself, by claiming that his response was sufficient. She then continues the conversation game suggesting that she might say something generally. She concludes by saying that only now may they be silent, eliciting a kind of power grab. She manages to dismiss Darcy’s actual response by pretending it is a move in her conversation game (and a bad one at that), and then asserts authority on whether they may be silent or not.

This retort amounts to something of a significant power grab in their interaction. Doing so enables her to keep on her toes and maintain social power against Darcy who otherwise simply outclasses her.

“Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing?”

“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be
entirely silent for half an hour together; and yet for the advantage of
some, conversation ought to be so arranged, as that they may have the
trouble of saying as little as possible.”

After that, the conversation has the effect of questions or statements by Darcy and then responses by Elizabeth.

Darcy aims to hold power by refusing to be silent when Elizabeth claimed to allow silence (maintaining silence would be humbling on his part). His question inquires as to Elizabeth’s current conversational behavior, continuing to question her self-designated authority of dance conversations. The use of the term “by rule” is telling, because it suggests an inquiry into the model she uses for her conduct. This question may thus be seen as an effort to maintain power, continue conversation, and also perform genuine inquiry into her character.

Elizabeth’s response is partially genuine, explaining that a set of dances without conversation is awkward, which would be lowering herself. She then suggests that some (gently indicating Darcy) may prefer to have no conversation at all. This subtly hints that Darcy may has an anti social disposition. The actual statement is quite ambiguous, though. This does amount to a effort to gain power by lowering Darcy, but the threat is vague and indirect.

Elizabeth could make a few responses instead of this one. She could reply flatly, giving some sort of yes or no (the no would be very provocative). She could leave off at the mention of awkwardness, but that would be leave her vulnerable to attack. She could make a more direct threat to Darcy, which may be rude. She might actually respond by raising Darcy, suggesting that she might have thought that he would like conversation, which would be supplicating.

“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you
imagine that you are gratifying mine?”

“Both,” replied Elizabeth archly; “for I have always seen a great
similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial,
taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say
something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to
posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”

Darcy’s response to Elizabeth’s vague threat is to clarify it. This is threatening because it both turns the threat to her, and implies that she must expose the threat to him, bringing it out behind its shield of vagueness. This is threatening because if she were to bring out a threat, then it would be rude.

Elizabeth’s response is brilliant. Like all of the conversational moves so far, it misdirects the original assault. Instead of claiming that either she or Darcy might be antisocial, she unites the threat against both of them, which implies a certain commonality and unity between them. She also does so in a way that pokes fun at both of them, indicating that both of them are kind of ridiculous. This effectually lowers both, but in comparing herself to Darcy raises her to be closer to his level all the same.

Elizabeth could have easily turned the threat onto herself, suggesting that she were gracing or entertaining Darcy for his own benefit, which would be like a false raising of his status.

“This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure,”
said he. “How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You
think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.”

“I must not decide on my own performance.”

He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down
the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often
walk to Meryton. She answered in the affirmative,

This reaction is actually a direct response to Elizabeth’s last statement. Darcy contradicts Elizabeth’s allegation toward herself, which ostensibly serves to raise her. The contradiction undercuts her claim, though. Darcy then goes on to challenge her assessment of him. He neither supports nor denies her claim, but instead asserts that she believes it faithfully. This implicitly denies the allegation, but weakly. Darcy’s reaction on the whole here is rather abrupt in halting their banter.

Elizabeth’s response is also abrupt and has the effect of a last word.

The witty repartee reaches a pausing point, effectively concluding this line of conversation. On the whole, it seems like Darcy was the one to halt the flow of it, effectively leaving Elizabeth on top in terms of social skills.

Darcy’s question that follows this is non offensive and is relatively innocuous inquiry. This is absent of any power manoeuvrings, leaving the power relationship as it is. Darcy knows of Elizabeth’s fondness for walking, so his question seems indicative of a some potential affinity.

Elizabeth’s quick positive response is relatively neutral.

and, unable to resist
the temptation, added, “When you met us there the other day, we had just
been forming a new acquaintance.”

The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his
features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself
for her own weakness, could not go on.

The remark that follows is due to a quick internal debate within Elizabeth. She was unable to resist the temptation of bringing up Wickham. Exactly the nature of the the sides of the debate are unclear, but it is generally a matter of whether to offend Darcy. This is a concrete choice.

Offending him would put him down and cause some suffering on his part, satisfying some Elizabeth’s earlier emotional state. It would also serve to demonstrate to Darcy her found sympathy and support for Wickham. To do so would also assuredly provoke some form of negative reaction from Darcy, which would cause her social standing to suffer after they parted.

Darcy’s actual reaction to hearing of Wickham provokes a change that is visibly evident. The reaction could be due to either just thinking of Wickham (antagonism, disgust), or it could be to think of him and Elizabeth as close and associated, which would produce an effect of distancing himself from her. The actual essence of what is going on here is very ambiguous, and indicates the distance of both the reader and Elizabeth to Darcy’s inner thoughts.

An adaptation of this scene would need to be able to successfully convey not only Darcy’s physical reaction, but also the ambiguity of it.

Elizabeth is not comfortable with this reaction, and notably regrets having mentioned it. The power relationship between the two is unclear. Darcy could be in power because of his distance, or alternately Elizabeth could be in power because she made Darcy uncomfortable. The situation is awkward for both parties, and Elizabeth is unable to continue the conversation, leaving a conversational gap that is indicative of a moment of transgression in the dialogue.

At length Darcy spoke, and in a
constrained manner said, “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners
as may ensure his making friends—whether he may be equally capable of
retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,” replied Elizabeth
with emphasis, “and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all
his life.”

Darcy made no answer, and seemed desirous of changing the subject.

Darcy makes a sarcastic response about Wickham, targeted not at Elizabeth herself, but at Wickham primarily. He indicates that Wickham has strong social skill at garnering positive first impressions (making friends), but is unreliable and cannot be depended on (retaining them). This statement is given plainly, but can be read as a warning toward Elizabeth’s affection or relation to Wickham. This also supports accounts of Darcy’s history with Wickham as well, that they were once friends but lost their friendship in a nasty manner.

Elizabeth, who likes Wickham, is put on the defensive due to Darcy’s line. Her response is hostile and accusatory, emphasizing the suffering experienced by Wickham at the loss of his friendship with Darcy. The gist of this response is that Darcy is to blame for their loss of friendship as well as Wickham’s injury.

Again, Darcy’s response, or lack thereof, is significant, but ambiguous. His silence does not oppose Elizabeth’s claim, but it does not tacitly support it either. Darcy is clearly made uncomfortable by discussing Wickham. Functionally it serves to distance himself from the conversation, but it also suggests that Darcy is considering knowledge which he is not interested in divulging.

The effect of Darcy’s silence is an awkward pause, which would be embarrassing, and likely awkward unless it was interrupted.

that moment, Sir William Lucas appeared close to them, meaning to pass
through the set to the other side of the room; but on perceiving Mr.
Darcy, he stopped with a bow of superior courtesy to compliment him on
his dancing and his partner.

“I have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear sir. Such very
superior dancing is not often seen. It is evident that you belong to the
first circles. Allow me to say, however, that your fair partner does not
disgrace you, and that I must hope to have this pleasure often repeated,
especially when a certain desirable event, my dear Eliza (glancing at
her sister and Bingley) shall take place. What congratulations will then
flow in! I appeal to Mr. Darcy:—but let me not interrupt you, sir. You
will not thank me for detaining you from the bewitching converse of that
young lady, whose bright eyes are also upbraiding me.”

The awkward moment and the dance between Elizabeth and Darcy are interrupted by Sir William Lucas, who appears suddenly.

William Lucas is present due to a circumstantial motive, to pass to the other side of the room, but when present, greets the dancers. This is a polite gesture under the circumstances. William Lucas’s introduction is somewhat over-polite and gregarious.

William Lucas compliments the two and remarks on their performance as dancers. Dancing is indicated to be a pleasurable activity, not only for the participants but also for the spectators. This serves to elevate both Darcy and Elizabeth. Furthermore, in suggesting that they both belong in the first circles, elevates Elizabeth to be very close to Darcy. This is followed by a supplication of sorts (a self-effacing formality) that Darcy is not disgraced by Elizabeth. He requests that they repeat the act of dancing and appearing together. This entreaty is a request to Darcy to please socialize more with Elizabeth. The conversation is not provoked by anything, and comes across as quite earnest. The indication of this is partly a reflection on William Lucas’s character and personality, that he is interested in introducing people and having them be tightly knit and happy.

He continues, and refers to an expectation of something taking place between Jane and Bingley. The expected event is imaginably a proposal, followed by a wedding and ostensibly more balls. This is primarily an indication that they will become engaged and celebrations will follow. William Lucas’s telling of this information may be considered emotionally motivated, that it will make Darcy and Elizabeth happy (as it has made him happy), experiencing joy at positive news.

He then politely excuses himself, raising Darcy by thanking him, and complimenting Elizabeth.

The latter part of this address was scarcely heard by Darcy; but Sir
William’s allusion to his friend seemed to strike him forcibly, and his
eyes were directed with a very serious expression towards Bingley and
Jane, who were dancing together. Recovering himself, however, shortly,
he turned to his partner, and said, “Sir William’s interruption has made
me forget what we were talking of.”

“I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have
interrupted two people in the room who had less to say for themselves.
We have tried two or three subjects already without success, and what we
are to talk of next I cannot imagine.”

The information exposed (the happy event) activates a change in Darcy, and a moment of his thinking is indicated, though not illustrated. Darcy’s reaction is significant, an indication of his concern regarding Bingley and Jane. If Darcy does not form his plan to separate the two at this point, this at least contributes to it.

That moment of thinking is distracting from the current situation, and whether he tells the truth about forgetting the topic of conversation, it allows a moment for conversational shift, giving power and responsibility to Elizabeth to lead the conversation once more.

Elizabeth makes negative comment toward prior conversation. This indicates that if conversation is to resume, it requires a topic. This counts as an offer to Darcy to determine a topic.

“What think you of books?” said he, smiling.

“Books—oh! no. I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same

“I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be
no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions.”

Darcy makes a positive offer that is ostensibly friendly, and is accompanied with a friendly gesture. The topic of books is acceptable and learned, but mundane and innocuous. This is also posed as a way of making closer his association with Elizabeth, because it is a topic that they both are interested in.

Elizabeth seems to reject the offer, acknowledging her fondness for books, but creating a distance between her and Darcy’s interests. This asserts that his interest and hers are different in nature.

Darcy presses, putting the difference Elizabeth posed in a positive light. This indicates that, while there may be a difference, that is reason for learning more. This is an offer indicative at surface of a broad mind (uncharacteristic of other impressions of Darcy). Because he presses in the positive, it is arguable that he is emotionally positive and engaged.

While they are not as witty and sparring in this exchange, it still reflects an evasiveness on Elizabeth’s part to not curry favor with Darcy. This is in contrast to the traditional values of the period, which would have her eagerly returning conversation.

“No—I cannot talk of books in a ball-room; my head is always full of
something else.”

“The present always occupies you in such scenes—does it?” said he,
with a look of doubt.

At the surface, Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s offer still, citing as excuse the context of the situation. Balls are not generally occasions for discussing books.

This snippet of conversation suggests that Elizabeth is engaged in
thought. It is also posed as an intrigue: what is occupying her so? This could be the state of the situation (the dancing), or something else (gossip, drama).

Darcy responds with an inquiry that Elizabeth is concerned with the present situation, but doubtfully. This effaces her statement, and counts as lowering.

“Yes, always,” she replied, without knowing what she said, for her
thoughts had wandered far from the subject, as soon afterwards appeared
by her suddenly exclaiming, “I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy,
that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was
unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being

“I am,” said he, with a firm voice.

“And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?”

“I hope not.”

Elizabeth affirms Darcy’s inquiry, which subjects herself to the lower. She is written as distracted, though what by is not given. The suggestion is that she is thinking of Wickham, and comparing Darcy’s positive demeanor to her earlier antagonism, producing an inconsistency.

Elizabeth makes a very direct inquiry to Darcy regarding his character. She recalls his statement about having unappeasable resentment, and poses that he is cautious in creating resentment. This comes across as an inquiry (asking if he is), and a threat, suggesting that if he is not, then that is a negative indication of his character.

This inquiry is a direct placement of Darcy’s character against Wickham’s. If Darcy is honorable (moral, or gentlemanly), then he will be (and was) cautious in creating his resentment, and conversely, Wickham would have made a severe indiscretion. Alternatively, Darcy could be an immoral character (as Elizabeth was thinking earlier) and his resentment was created incautiously. Were the latter the case, then he would lie or could not be trusted with his response to this question. Everything in Elizabeth’s interaction with Darcy in this conversation has suggested that Darcy has a sound moral standing.

Either case in estimation of Darcy’s character would produce the same conversational result, the response that he gives. However, the element of significance is conduct of his statement, the firmness of his voice.

The manner of this conversation so far is very direct on both parties. Elizabeth is asking questions in a very assertive manner as well.

“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion,
to be secure of judging properly at first.”

“May I ask to what these questions tend?”

“Merely to the illustration of your character,” said she, endeavouring
to shake off her gravity. “I am trying to make it out.”

“And what is your success?”

She shook her head. “I do not get on at all. I hear such different
accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.”

Elizabeth responds to Darcy’s assertion in his last line, and reemphasizes it with a threat, that he better be certain of his opinion. The subject of this threat is Darcy’s character, which has been the subject of intrigue.

Darcy detects the hostility in the statement and inquires as to Elizabeth’s motivations.

Elizabeth expresses that she is attempting to understand Darcy’s character, but it is unclear. The fact that she experiences this contradictory evidence requires not having an evaluation of Darcy’s character, but rather treats it as a confused entity, which is both negative and positive simultaneously. Elizabeth’s state of confusion is significant and has a strong effect on her disposition.

Darcy asks her success in determining his character and Elizabeth relates her confusion.

“I can readily believe,” answered he gravely, “that reports may vary
greatly with respect to me; and I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were
not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to
fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either.”

“But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another

“I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,” he coldly replied.

Darcy requests to Elizabeth that she not judge his character. This poses that his character is currently in a state undesirable to him. Were Darcy ostensibly more honorable, his character would not be admittedly vulnerable. His following suggestion that it would not reflect well on either of them comes across as a threat, though the material is less clear. This is a very defensive conversational move, acknowledging attack.

Elizabeth presses in her pursuit of Darcy’s character, suggesting (threatening?) that she will not be able to do so in the future. This suggests that the two will not have the chance to know each other better, and comes across as very finalistic.

Darcy responds directly, but negatively. This treats Elizabeth’s previous line as an attack, which was directly confronted. His mood is soured by the exchange.

She said no more, and they went down the other dance and parted in
silence; and on each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree,
for in Darcy’s breast there was a tolerable powerful feeling towards
her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed all his anger against
This narrative segment indicates an intermediary phase. The dance ends, and the two leave on silent, and thus awkward and uncomfortable terms. The mood of each is given as dissatisfied, indicating mutual negativity.

An insight into Darcy’s mind is given that he redirects his mental antagonism elsewhere and restores a positive attitude toward Elizabeth. The subject of his antagonism is presumably Wickham (but this is not specified).

They had not long separated, when Miss Bingley came towards her, and
with an expression of civil disdain accosted her:

“So, Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham!
Your sister has been talking to me about him, and asking me a thousand
questions; and I find that the young man quite forgot to tell you, among
his other communication, that he was the son of old Wickham, the late
Mr. Darcy’s steward. Let me recommend you, however, as a friend, not to
give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for as to Mr. Darcy’s
using him ill, it is perfectly false; for, on the contrary, he has
always been remarkably kind to him, though George Wickham has treated
Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner. I do not know the particulars, but
I know very well that Mr. Darcy is not in the least to blame, that he
cannot bear to hear George Wickham mentioned, and that though my brother
thought that he could not well avoid including him in his invitation to
the officers, he was excessively glad to find that he had taken himself
out of the way. His coming into the country at all is a most insolent
thing, indeed, and I wonder how he could presume to do it. I pity you,
Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite’s guilt; but really,
considering his descent, one could not expect much better.”

Miss Bingley approaches Elizabeth and opens up on a rant. The conversation appears to be private, so the purpose could not be embarrassment in social company. The exact motive behind this is unclear but could be towards lowering Elizabeth in relation to Miss Bingley, or towards instilling embarrassment in Elizabeth’s fondness of Wickham.

Miss Bingley’s text can be broken into several elements (all of them gossip): Revealing that she knows Elizabeth’s fondness to Wickham; revealing the sister’s asking questions (a social indiscretion; since Wickham is a tainted character); revealing of Wickham’s family relations to Darcy; asserting that Darcy was kind to Wickham (before indiscretion) — raising his status; that Wickham performed infamous indiscretion; that Bingley wished to avoid inviting Wickham; that there was relief in his absence; that Wickham’s appearance nearby was insolent.

The final lines are a clear lowering (I pity you), an implication of guilt on Wickham and on Elizabeth through association. It also conveys a strong allegiance to the associativity of social status to morality.

“His guilt and his descent appear by your account to be the same,” said
Elizabeth angrily; “for I have heard you accuse him of nothing worse
than of being the son of Mr. Darcy’s steward, and of that, I can
assure you, he informed me himself.”

“I beg your pardon,” replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer.
“Excuse my interference—it was kindly meant.”

“Insolent girl!” said Elizabeth to herself. “You are much mistaken
if you expect to influence me by such a paltry attack as this. I see
nothing in it but your own wilful ignorance and the malice of Mr.

(the rest of the analysis is incomplete so far)
She then sought her eldest sister, who has undertaken to make
inquiries on the same subject of Bingley. Jane met her with a smile of
such sweet complacency, a glow of such happy expression, as sufficiently
marked how well she was satisfied with the occurrences of the evening.
Elizabeth instantly read her feelings, and at that moment solicitude for
Wickham, resentment against his enemies, and everything else, gave way
before the hope of Jane’s being in the fairest way for happiness.
“I want to know,” said she, with a countenance no less smiling than her
sister’s, “what you have learnt about Mr. Wickham. But perhaps you have
been too pleasantly engaged to think of any third person; in which case
you may be sure of my pardon.”

“No,” replied Jane, “I have not forgotten him; but I have nothing
satisfactory to tell you. Mr. Bingley does not know the whole of
his history, and is quite ignorant of the circumstances which have
principally offended Mr. Darcy; but he will vouch for the good conduct,
the probity, and honour of his friend, and is perfectly convinced that
Mr. Wickham has deserved much less attention from Mr. Darcy than he has
received; and I am sorry to say by his account as well as his sister’s,
Mr. Wickham is by no means a respectable young man. I am afraid he has
been very imprudent, and has deserved to lose Mr. Darcy’s regard.”

“Mr. Bingley does not know Mr. Wickham himself?”

“No; he never saw him till the other morning at Meryton.”

“This account then is what he has received from Mr. Darcy. I am
satisfied. But what does he say of the living?”

“He does not exactly recollect the circumstances, though he has heard
them from Mr. Darcy more than once, but he believes that it was left to
him conditionally only.”

“I have not a doubt of Mr. Bingley’s sincerity,” said Elizabeth warmly;
“but you must excuse my not being convinced by assurances only. Mr.
Bingley’s defense of his friend was a very able one, I dare say; but
since he is unacquainted with several parts of the story, and has learnt
the rest from that friend himself, I shall venture to still think of
both gentlemen as I did before.”

She then changed the discourse to one more gratifying to each, and on
which there could be no difference of sentiment. Elizabeth listened with
delight to the happy, though modest hopes which Jane entertained of Mr.
Bingley’s regard, and said all in her power to heighten her confidence
in it. On their being joined by Mr. Bingley himself, Elizabeth withdrew
to Miss Lucas; to whose inquiry after the pleasantness of her last
partner she had scarcely replied, before Mr. Collins came up to them,
and told her with great exultation that he had just been so fortunate as
to make a most important discovery.
“I have found out,” said he, “by a singular accident, that there is now
in the room a near relation of my patroness. I happened to overhear the
gentleman himself mentioning to the young lady who does the honours of
the house the names of his cousin Miss de Bourgh, and of her mother Lady
Catherine. How wonderfully these sort of things occur! Who would have
thought of my meeting with, perhaps, a nephew of Lady Catherine de
Bourgh in this assembly! I am most thankful that the discovery is made
in time for me to pay my respects to him, which I am now going to
do, and trust he will excuse my not having done it before. My total
ignorance of the connection must plead my apology.”
“You are not going to introduce yourself to Mr. Darcy!”

“Indeed I am. I shall entreat his pardon for not having done it earlier.
I believe him to be Lady Catherine’s nephew. It will be in my power to
assure him that her ladyship was quite well yesterday se’nnight.”

Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme, assuring him
that Mr. Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction
as an impertinent freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt; that
it was not in the least necessary there should be any notice on either
side; and that if it were, it must belong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in
consequence, to begin the acquaintance.

Mr. Collins listened to her
with the determined air of following his own inclination, and, when she
ceased speaking, replied thus:

“My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world in
your excellent judgement in all matters within the scope of your
understanding; but permit me to say, that there must be a wide
difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity,
and those which regulate the clergy; for, give me leave to observe that
I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with
the highest rank in the kingdom—provided that a proper humility of
behaviour is at the same time maintained. You must therefore allow me to
follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion, which leads me to
perform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting to
profit by your advice, which on every other subject shall be my constant
guide, though in the case before us I consider myself more fitted by
education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young
lady like yourself.”

And with a low bow he left her to attack Mr.
Darcy, whose reception of his advances she eagerly watched, and whose
astonishment at being so addressed was very evident. Her cousin prefaced
his speech with a solemn bow and though she could not hear a word of
it, she felt as if hearing it all, and saw in the motion of his lips the
words “apology,” “Hunsford,” and “Lady Catherine de Bourgh.” It vexed
her to see him expose himself to such a man. Mr. Darcy was eyeing him
with unrestrained wonder, and when at last Mr. Collins allowed him time
to speak, replied with an air of distant civility. Mr. Collins, however,
was not discouraged from speaking again, and Mr. Darcy’s contempt seemed
abundantly increasing with the length of his second speech, and at the
end of it he only made him a slight bow, and moved another way. Mr.
Collins then returned to Elizabeth.
“I have no reason, I assure you,” said he, “to be dissatisfied with my
reception. Mr. Darcy seemed much pleased with the attention. He answered
me with the utmost civility, and even paid me the compliment of saying
that he was so well convinced of Lady Catherine’s discernment as to be
certain she could never bestow a favour unworthily. It was really a very
handsome thought. Upon the whole, I am much pleased with him.”
As Elizabeth had no longer any interest of her own to pursue, she turned
her attention almost entirely on her sister and Mr. Bingley; and the
train of agreeable reflections which her observations gave birth to,
made her perhaps almost as happy as Jane. She saw her in idea settled in
that very house, in all the felicity which a marriage of true affection
could bestow; and she felt capable, under such circumstances, of
endeavouring even to like Bingley’s two sisters. Her mother’s thoughts
she plainly saw were bent the same way, and she determined not to
venture near her, lest she might hear too much. When they sat down to
supper, therefore, she considered it a most unlucky perverseness which
placed them within one of each other; and deeply was she vexed to find
that her mother was talking to that one person (Lady Lucas) freely,
openly, and of nothing else but her expectation that Jane would soon
be married to Mr. Bingley. It was an animating subject, and Mrs. Bennet
seemed incapable of fatigue while enumerating the advantages of the
match. His being such a charming young man, and so rich, and living but
three miles from them, were the first points of self-gratulation; and
then it was such a comfort to think how fond the two sisters were of
Jane, and to be certain that they must desire the connection as much as
she could do. It was, moreover, such a promising thing for her younger
daughters, as Jane’s marrying so greatly must throw them in the way of
other rich men; and lastly, it was so pleasant at her time of life to be
able to consign her single daughters to the care of their sister, that
she might not be obliged to go into company more than she liked. It was
necessary to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure, because on
such occasions it is the etiquette; but no one was less likely than Mrs.
Bennet to find comfort in staying home at any period of her life. She
concluded with many good wishes that Lady Lucas might soon be equally
fortunate, though evidently and triumphantly believing there was no
chance of it.
In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother’s
words, or persuade her to describe her felicity in a less audible
whisper; for, to her inexpressible vexation, she could perceive that the
chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat opposite to them. Her
mother only scolded her for being nonsensical.

“What is Mr. Darcy to me, pray, that I should be afraid of him? I am
sure we owe him no such particular civility as to be obliged to say
nothing he may not like to hear.”

“For heaven’s sake, madam, speak lower. What advantage can it be for you
to offend Mr. Darcy? You will never recommend yourself to his friend by
so doing!”

Nothing that she could say, however, had any influence. Her mother would
talk of her views in the same intelligible tone. Elizabeth blushed and
blushed again with shame and vexation. She could not help frequently
glancing her eye at Mr. Darcy, though every glance convinced her of what
she dreaded; for though he was not always looking at her mother, she was
convinced that his attention was invariably fixed by her. The expression
of his face changed gradually from indignant contempt to a composed and
steady gravity.
At length, however, Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady Lucas, who
had been long yawning at the repetition of delights which she saw no
likelihood of sharing, was left to the comforts of cold ham and
chicken. Elizabeth now began to revive.
But not long was the interval of
tranquillity; for, when supper was over, singing was talked of, and
she had the mortification of seeing Mary, after very little entreaty,
preparing to oblige the company. By many significant looks and silent
entreaties, did she endeavour to prevent such a proof of complaisance,
but in vain; Mary would not understand them; such an opportunity of
exhibiting was delightful to her, and she began her song. Elizabeth’s
eyes were fixed on her with most painful sensations, and she watched her
progress through the several stanzas with an impatience which was very
ill rewarded at their close; for Mary, on receiving, amongst the thanks
of the table, the hint of a hope that she might be prevailed on to
favour them again, after the pause of half a minute began another.
Mary’s powers were by no means fitted for such a display; her voice was
weak, and her manner affected. Elizabeth was in agonies. She looked at
Jane, to see how she bore it; but Jane was very composedly talking to
Bingley. She looked at his two sisters, and saw them making signs
of derision at each other, and at Darcy, who continued, however,
imperturbably grave.
She looked at her father to entreat his
interference, lest Mary should be singing all night. He took the hint,
and when Mary had finished her second song, said aloud, “That will do
extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other
young ladies have time to exhibit.”

Mary, though pretending not to hear, was somewhat disconcerted; and
Elizabeth, sorry for her, and sorry for her father’s speech, was afraid
her anxiety had done no good. Others of the party were now applied to.

“If I,” said Mr. Collins, “were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I
should have great pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company with an
air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion, and perfectly
compatible with the profession of a clergyman. I do not mean, however,
to assert that we can be justified in devoting too much of our time
to music, for there are certainly other things to be attended to. The
rector of a parish has much to do. In the first place, he must make
such an agreement for tithes as may be beneficial to himself and not
offensive to his patron. He must write his own sermons; and the time
that remains will not be too much for his parish duties, and the care
and improvement of his dwelling, which he cannot be excused from making
as comfortable as possible. And I do not think it of light importance
that he should have attentive and conciliatory manner towards everybody,
especially towards those to whom he owes his preferment. I cannot acquit
him of that duty; nor could I think well of the man who should omit an
occasion of testifying his respect towards anybody connected with the
family.” And with a bow to Mr. Darcy, he concluded his speech, which had
been spoken so loud as to be heard by half the room.
Many stared—many
smiled; but no one looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself, while his
wife seriously commended Mr. Collins for having spoken so sensibly,
and observed in a half-whisper to Lady Lucas, that he was a remarkably
clever, good kind of young man.

To Elizabeth it appeared that, had her family made an agreement to
expose themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would
have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit or
finer success; and happy did she think it for Bingley and her sister
that some of the exhibition had escaped his notice, and that his
feelings were not of a sort to be much distressed by the folly which he
must have witnessed. That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should
have such an opportunity of ridiculing her relations, was bad enough,
and she could not determine whether the silent contempt of the
gentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were more intolerable.

The rest of the evening brought her little amusement. She was teased by
Mr. Collins, who continued most perseveringly by her side, and though
he could not prevail on her to dance with him again, put it out of her
power to dance with others. In vain did she entreat him to stand up with
somebody else, and offer to introduce him to any young lady in the room.
He assured her, that as to dancing, he was perfectly indifferent to it;
that his chief object was by delicate attentions to recommend himself to
her and that he should therefore make a point of remaining close to her
the whole evening. There was no arguing upon such a project. She owed
her greatest relief to her friend Miss Lucas, who often joined them, and
good-naturedly engaged Mr. Collins’s conversation to herself.
She was at least free from the offense of Mr. Darcy’s further notice;
though often standing within a very short distance of her, quite
disengaged, he never came near enough to speak. She felt it to be the
probable consequence of her allusions to Mr. Wickham, and rejoiced in
The Longbourn party were the last of all the company to depart, and, by
a manoeuvre of Mrs. Bennet, had to wait for their carriage a quarter of
an hour after everybody else was gone, which gave them time to see how
heartily they were wished away by some of the family. Mrs. Hurst and her
sister scarcely opened their mouths, except to complain of fatigue, and
were evidently impatient to have the house to themselves. They repulsed
every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and by so doing threw a
languor over the whole party, which was very little relieved by the
long speeches of Mr. Collins, who was complimenting Mr. Bingley and his
sisters on the elegance of their entertainment, and the hospitality and
politeness which had marked their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said
nothing at all. Mr. Bennet, in equal silence, was enjoying the scene.
Mr. Bingley and Jane were standing together, a little detached from the
rest, and talked only to each other. Elizabeth preserved as steady a
silence as either Mrs. Hurst or Miss Bingley; and even Lydia was too
much fatigued to utter more than the occasional exclamation of “Lord,
how tired I am!” accompanied by a violent yawn.
When at length they arose to take leave, Mrs. Bennet was most pressingly
civil in her hope of seeing the whole family soon at Longbourn, and
addressed herself especially to Mr. Bingley, to assure him how happy he
would make them by eating a family dinner with them at any time, without
the ceremony of a formal invitation. Bingley was all grateful pleasure,
and he readily engaged for taking the earliest opportunity of waiting on
her, after his return from London, whither he was obliged to go the next
day for a short time.
Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied, and quitted the house under the
delightful persuasion that, allowing for the necessary preparations of
settlements, new carriages, and wedding clothes, she should undoubtedly
see her daughter settled at Netherfield in the course of three or four
months. Of having another daughter married to Mr. Collins, she thought
with equal certainty, and with considerable, though not equal, pleasure.
Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the
man and the match were quite good enough for her, the worth of each
was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and Netherfield.

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