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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) | Summary

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Summary

The relationship between Jane and Elizabeth Bennet and the Bingley sisters progresses as the women of the two households make their customary visits. The Bingley sisters appear to approve of Jane, but they find Mrs. Bennet intolerable and the younger sisters dull.

At a party at Lucas Lodge, Sir William Lucas's estate, Charlotte and Elizabeth discuss Jane. While Elizabeth is pleased by Jane's modesty and discretion, Charlotte warns that Jane should make her feelings toward Bingley more obvious. After all, he needs some sign that his feelings are reciprocated.

Elizabeth does not change her initial impressions of Darcy. She does make an effort to speak with him at the party so that she does not "grow afraid of him." Later, she also performs some songs on the pianoforte, followed by her sister Mary. After the performance, when Darcy asks her to dance, she refuses, protesting that he is "all politeness." Darcy admits to Caroline that he finds Elizabeth attractive, and Caroline teases him about what a marriage to Elizabeth would entail—Mrs. Bennet as a mother-in-law.

Analysis

The conversation between Charlotte and Elizabeth about Jane highlights the fine line women of the day had to walk. They had to be discreet in courtship, protecting their ladylike reputation in order to remain marriageable, but they also had to somehow communicate their attraction to a prospective mate. As usual, Charlotte is the voice of practicality in this conversation; she is worried that Jane will lose her chance for an advantageous marriage. This discussion foreshadows a future conflict for Jane.

Elizabeth's refusal to dance with Darcy shows her self-control and her wit. She is not willing to jump at the first chance to dance with someone who had previously snubbed her, however wealthy he may be. Furthermore, she actively dislikes him. In calling Darcy "all politeness," she suggests playfully that he is only asking her out of a sense of propriety, not because of any real desire. In conversation with Caroline Bingley, Darcy reveals his changing attitude toward Elizabeth; he now finds her attractive. Caroline persists in denigrating the Bennets' lower status, probably because she is interested in the eligible Mr. Darcy for herself. Caroline Bingley's designs on Darcy will influence events to come.

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