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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 3 (Volume 1, Chapter 3) | Summary

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Summary

Mrs. Bennet continues to plot how to introduce her daughters to Mr. Bingley. When the young man does call on Mr. Bennet, the sisters glimpse him from a window but do not actually meet him. Bingley declines to stay for dinner that night. Mrs. Lucas, a neighbor of the Bennets, reports that Bingley is on his way to London but will be present at a ball that will soon take place in the neighborhood.

Mr. Bingley attends the Meryton ball with his unmarried sister, Caroline Bingley, as well as with his married sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst. A friend of his, Mr. Darcy, accompanies him. The charming Mr. Bingley makes an immediate good impression on the Bennets. He seeks out Jane and dances with her twice. In contrast, Mr. Darcy seems aloof and disagreeable. Bingley encourages his friend to dance because male partners are in short supply at the ball. When Bingley urges him to dance with Elizabeth in particular, she overhears Darcy describe her as "tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me." Mr. and Mrs. Bennet discuss Darcy's rudeness and proceed to solidify their negative impression of him.

Analysis

The ball at Meryton brings together for the first time some of the key couples that readers will follow through the course of the novel. Elizabeth and Darcy have their first encounter, and their first impressions establish one of the main threads of the plot. Readers will note Darcy's snobbery as he speaks insultingly of the guests in general and Elizabeth in particular. She is immediately prejudiced against Darcy, both for his superior attitude and aloofness.

Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet's first encounter is much more pleasant. However, as the plot unfolds, they will have misunderstandings paralleling those between Elizabeth and Darcy.

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