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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 17 (Volume 1, Chapter 17) | Summary

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Summary

The next day, Elizabeth shares with Jane the story she has heard about Darcy. Jane is skeptical and thinks that perhaps there was some kind of misunderstanding. As one who tends to look for the best in people, Jane questions why Darcy would be so intentionally unfair. Elizabeth makes fun of Jane for being so kind and for always believing in the goodness of others. Elizabeth believes that Wickham is probably telling the truth.

Bingley and his sister extend a personal invitation to a ball at Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet is especially excited because she thinks that this is a promising sign of Bingley's interest in Jane. Elizabeth is excited about the ball and the prospect of spending more time with Wickham there. Mr. Collins, who is also planning to attend, asks Elizabeth if she will reserve the first two dances for him.

Analysis

Once again, Elizabeth's lack of awareness about her own imperfect judgment contrasts sharply with her criticism of others on the same count. While she faults Jane for defending Darcy, she fails to hold herself to the same standard when it comes to believing Wickham.

Showing the variety of reactions among her characters is a hallmark of Austen's technique; with a few swift strokes, she paints a complete and vivid picture. The characters at Longbourn have different reasons for being excited about the upcoming ball. Elizabeth is most excited about the prospect of continuing her relationship with George Wickham, but Mr. Collins's request to engage her for the first two dances foreshadows his upcoming proposal.

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