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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 29 (Volume 2, Chapter 6) | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Collins diligently prepares his houseguests for the visit to Rosings. Lady Catherine takes command of the situation, expressing her opinions, none of which are questioned by Mr. Collins or by Charlotte's parents, Maria Lucas and Sir William Lucas. Lady Catherine freely criticizes Elizabeth's upbringing and education. Elizabeth is annoyed by the criticism. When Elizabeth challenges any of the pronouncements, Lady Catherine seems surprised and somewhat unnerved.

Analysis

This encounter with Lady Catherine is a preview of what will come. Unlike Charlotte's parents, who are intimidated by Lady Catherine, Elizabeth is not. This is interesting because Sir Thomas Lucas, as a knight, is closer in status to Lady Catherine.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is almost as comic as Mr. Collins. However, while Collins is a mixture of self-importance and obsequiousness, she is all pomposity. In Lady Catherine, Austen satirizes the concept of condescension. In Austen's class-based society, to "condescend" simply means to willingly deal with someone of lower rank. But there is good condescension and bad condescension. Lady Catherine's manner of condescension, obviously meant to inflate her own sense of self-importance, is the worst kind. She personifies the negative sense of the word as readers know it today.

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