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Pride and Prejudice | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Chapter 20

Professor Bradley Greenburg of Northeastern Illinois University provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 20 of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 20 (Volume 1, Chapter 20) | Summary



Mrs. Bennet is extremely upset at the news of the thwarted marriage proposal. In her mind, a match with Mr. Collins would have been advantageous in securing her family's future at Longbourn. However, Mr. Bennet applauds Elizabeth's rejection of Mr. Collins. Even when Mrs. Bennet implores her husband to intervene, he refuses.

During this confusion in the Bennet family, Charlotte Lucas comes to visit. As the Bennets begin to relate the events of the proposal to Charlotte, Mrs. Bennet tries to recruit Charlotte to change Elizabeth's mind. Mr. Collins appears and announces that he is going to leave Longbourn shortly.


The various reactions to Elizabeth's refusal of the marriage proposal are amusing. For Mrs. Bennet, it is a tragedy, and her reaction is typically overwrought. Mr. Bennet, always happy to counter Mrs. Bennet, is amused by the situation. And although he makes a joke of his opposition to the marriage, he means it. He can see that though it seems desirable for a daughter to marry Collins, such a marriage would mean misery for Elizabeth. In fact, this bit of support may be one of his most responsible acts in the novel.

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