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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 31 (Volume 2, Chapter 8) | Summary

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Summary

As Easter approaches, Mr. and Mrs. Collins, Elizabeth, and Maria Lucas are invited to dine at Rosings. Lady Catherine at first attends mainly to her nephew, Darcy. Elizabeth and the Colonel have a lively chat. He asks her to play the pianoforte. Darcy and Elizabeth soon get involved in a spirited conversation that ranges from music to his shyness around people he does not know well. Elizabeth suggests that he simply needs more practice, just as she must practice the pianoforte. Darcy replies, "We neither of us perform to strangers."

Analysis

This chapter gives us another look at Elizabeth and Darcy's spirited repartee, which seems to give both of them pleasure. Their conversation touches on a theme about the importance of social conventions; Elizabeth's chiding of Darcy shows how important she thinks these conventions are, but by comparing his lack of practice in social interaction to her own in piano, she softens the criticism. Darcy's reply seems to play off of her piano comparison while taking the meaning in another direction. Perhaps in this conversation, they are "performing" for each other.

The chapter also shows a rather pathetic side of Lady Catherine, who fantasizes about how well her daughter would have played the pianoforte "had her health allowed her to learn."

Though the dialogue between Elizabeth and Darcy reveals an unspoken attraction, Elizabeth seems to go to great lengths to deny it. In fact, when she sees that Darcy has no attraction to Miss de Bourgh, she feels relieved for Caroline Bingley, her nemesis, because Caroline may yet have a chance with Darcy.

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