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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 7 (Volume 1, Chapter 7) | Summary

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Summary

The chapter opens with details about Bennet's finances, including the entail of the estate to a male Bennet heir, which will prevent any of the Bennet's daughters from inheriting it. Mrs. Bennet's family had lived comfortably on her father's income as an attorney, but her money alone will not provide much for her grown children.

The latest news from the nearby town of Meryton is the arrival of the militia, whose presence fuels the excitement of the younger Bennet sisters.

Jane is invited to visit Netherfield, the Bingleys' home. Mrs. Bennet sends Jane on horseback rather than in a carriage. The weather turns rainy, which delights Mrs. Bennet. Her ulterior motive was to ensure that if the weather turned bad, Jane would have to stay longer at Netherfield. Then the Bennets receive a letter saying that Jane is ill. Elizabeth becomes worried about her sister and goes to Netherfield in order to check on her. Her three-mile trek results in Elizabeth arriving with muddy skirts. Although the Bingley sisters are polite, Elizabeth senses their disapproval of her appearance. Darcy, however, is struck by her bright complexion, the result of her vigorous walk.

Elizabeth finds Jane to be quite ill and makes arrangements to stay at Netherfield to take care of her.

Analysis

Details about Mrs. Bennet's family paint a fuller picture of the Bennets' status in society. Mr. Bennet is a member of the landed gentry, though not a very wealthy one. Mrs. Bennet's family is respectable but not landed gentry, which gives fuel to Caroline Bingley's disapproval of her—ironic, given that the Bingleys themselves, though wealthy, are not landed gentry either. In fact, they merely rent Netherfield and do not own an estate.

The arrival of the militia reflects the novel's setting at a time when England feared a French invasion. These concerns are far from the minds of the Bennet daughters, however, who are more interested in the sudden supply of young men in town.

This chapter reveals the lengths to which Mrs. Bennet will go to ensure her daughters' marriages. Mrs. Bennet likes the idea of Jane being stuck at Netherfield, in proximity to Charles Bingley.

Elizabeth is genuinely concerned about her sister. This reaction reveals the devotion and love that Elizabeth feels for Jane. Elizabeth's appearance on the scene is not good news for Caroline Bingley, who is predisposed to not approve of Elizabeth because of her own growing jealousy in regard to Darcy.

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