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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 13 (Volume 1, Chapter 13) | Summary

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Summary

Soon after Jane and Elizabeth arrive back home, they learn that a cousin, Mr. Collins, will be visiting. According to a legal arrangement called an entail, Mr. Collins will inherit Longbourn when Mr. Bennet dies. Because of some past disagreements, Collins wrote in a letter that he wants to make a personal visit to try to repair the relationship. He also explains that he was recently ordained as a rector in the parish of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is his patroness. Mrs. Bennet does not completely understand the entailment and reluctantly prepares herself for the arrival of their houseguest. Mr. Collins's arrival is awkward. He behaves pompously and manages to insult Mrs. Bennet by mistakenly assuming that she cannot afford a cook.

Analysis

Mr. Collins is the closest male relative that Mr. Bennet has and is thus the heir to Longbourn. Entailment was a common legal arrangement meant to make sure that estates remained within the family and would not go to outsiders. This arrangement offers little comfort to the Bennet women, however, who stand to gain nothing from the arrangement. Furthermore, in the tone and substance of his letter—wordy, and full of pomposity and clichés—it's clear that Mr. Collins is an arrogant fool.

As Mr. Collins looks around the house and notices its furnishings, the reader can see that he is imagining himself among them as the future master of the home. His insult to Mrs. Bennet touches on one of her points of pride—her family's ability to employ a cook.

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