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By Ruth Goode

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Additional resources for Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice

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And Elizabeth can tell that Jane is falling in love with Bingley. The two friends, Elizabeth and Charlotte, talk privately about the effect the newcomers are having on the neighborhood. Elizabeth, always on the lookout for Jane’s happiness, mentions to her friend that Jane seems to be falling in love with Bingley but is hiding it well. Elizabeth’s view is that a young woman can’t let on that she is interested in a man until he openly expresses his interest in her by proposing marriage. If he doesn’t, the humiliation of having shown her feelings for him would be too much to bear.

She sets the stage for a chase—either by the young man in search of a bride, or by young women in pursuit of him as a husband. As we all know from reading adventure stories or watching slapstick movie comedies, a chase can be one of the most entertaining forms of narrative. Jane Austen seemed to know that too, because from the opening scene that follows her first sentence, the chase is on. Mrs. Bennet tells her husband that a single young man, Mr. Bingley, has rented the nearby manor house of Netherfield.

Sir William Lucas, Charlotte’s father compliments them both on their dancing. He then refers to a coming desirable event and pointedly looks at Bingley and Jane, who stand talking, their heads close together. Miss Bingley approaches Elizabeth and rather insolently warns her against taking an interest in Wickham, since he is low-born. She also understands that he has behaved badly to Darcy, although she does not know the details. In softer terms, Bingley has told Jane much the same thing, also by hearsay.

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