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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 15 (Volume 1, Chapter 15) | Summary

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Summary

The narrator describes Mr. Collins as "not a sensible man," an odd blend of "pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility." Collins tells Mrs. Bennet that he is interested in marrying one of her daughters and expresses an interest in Jane. However, Mrs. Bennet tells him she may soon be engaged. He then sets his sights on Elizabeth, the next oldest.

The sisters embark on a walk to Meryton, where militia officers are stationed. One of the officers is new on the scene, a handsome man named George Wickham. As the sisters are walking and conversing with the officers, Bingley and Darcy approach the group on horseback. Bingley is warm, but Darcy seems removed, and he avoids making contact with Elizabeth. Elizabeth also notices a tense nonverbal exchange between Wickham and Darcy that makes her curious. Moments later, the sisters arrive at the home of their aunt, Mrs. Phillips, who lives in town. She invites the whole group, including Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham, to supper the next evening.

Analysis

The facile shift in Mr. Collins's affections suggests that his interest in marrying is not motivated by love but by a desire to make a convenient arrangement with one of his cousins.

The narrator describes Wickham's appearance and manner as pleasing but says nothing of his character. The encounter that Elizabeth notices between Darcy and Wickham foreshadows intrigue to come. In describing Mrs. Phillips, Austen pokes fun at her nosiness and lack of gentility. It's clear that Mrs. Phillips is among the less dignified relatives from Mrs. Bennet's side of the family; her exchanges with the obsequious Mr. Collins provide comic relief.

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