Pride and Prejudice Chapter 10 - 13: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
In chapters 10-13 of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy and Jane conclude their prolonged stay at Netherfield, but not before Lizzy has a series of illuminating conversations with the household. Returning home, the eldest Bennet sisters find that they are themselves to receive a visit. Mr. Collins, nephew and heir to Mr. Bennet, turns up and turns out to be hilariously pompous.

Chapter 10: More Conversation, More Action

While poor Jane is still convalescing in her room, the rest of the household engages in ordinary evening occupations. Mr. Bingley is playing cards with his brother-in-law. Lizzy is reading, Mr. Darcy is writing a letter, and Caroline Bingley is flirting with him.

Through the group's conversation, we learn that Bingley is unafraid to tease Darcy. We also learn (unsurprisingly) that Mr. Darcy takes everything very seriously. Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, may not take things seriously enough. 'This is too much,' he exclaims, 'to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning!' Darcy reproaches Bingley for humble-bragging, even about things he shouldn't be proud of... like being ready to leave Netherfield on a whim.

This observation of Darcy's foreshadows important events in the plot and precipitates a debate between him and Lizzy. He thinks that Bingley's readiness to yield to persuasion demonstrates weakness. Lizzy, on the other hand, thinks that it can be a good thing to trust a friend even without a logical argument. For what kind of decisions does this apply? What kind of a relationship do you need to have with a friend you trust like that? Before Darcy and Lizzy can discuss all these questions in detail, Bingley heads them off. He doesn't like such debates, saying that they're 'too much like disputes.'

Darcy, detail of 1890s illustration
Mr. Darcy!

For both Darcy and Lizzy, such mental exercise is enjoyable. Even when they're disagreeing, and even though their temperaments are very different, they relish this kind of conversation. It's rare for Darcy, because everyone's intimidated by him. It's rare for Lizzy because, for one thing, she's usually the smartest person in the room; for another, having outspoken intellectual debates is definitely not on the list of desirable habits for marriageable young women. Darcy, though, is growing steadily more attracted to Lizzy. Typically, he expresses this by staring at her. Lizzy is disconcerted, thinking he dislikes her.

Chapters 11-12: Home Comforts?

In the eleventh chapter, Jane is finally well enough to come downstairs, and she and Bingley continue to be adorable. Bingley spends about half an hour arranging for the fire to be made larger so that Jane doesn't get chilled, and spends the rest of the evening talking to her. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Caroline take a walk around the room, and Darcy and Lizzy get into yet another philosophical discussion, this time about vanity and pride.

Caroline, flirting as usual, pretends to be outraged by Darcy's dry, perceptive observation that they either have secrets to share, or want to show off their figures for him. Caroline pretends to be shocked. She actually is shocked by Lizzy's suggestion that they tease him right back. Darcy expresses disapproval of turning everything into a joke. Lizzy assures him that she only laughs at foolishness; he says that he works to avoid foolish weaknesses of character. 'Such as vanity and pride?' asks Lizzy (teasing again.) Darcy argues that pride can't be counted as a fault, if well regulated. He confesses, though, that his chief fault is resentfulness; Lizzy gravely responds that she cannot laugh at that.

Chapter 12 covers the negotiations of the Bennet sisters to get home (Mrs. Bennet, of course, wants them to stay at Netherfield as long as possible.) Although the Bingleys politely ask them to stay, both the Bennet sisters want to get home. Austen observes that 'Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.' In this, Jane's temperament is contrasted with that of Bingley, who is equally sweet, but perhaps not so strong-minded. Bingley is the only one sorry to see the sisters go. Caroline will genuinely miss Jane, but is glad to get Lizzy out of the house. Darcy, too, is relieved by their departure; Austen tells us that Lizzy 'attracted him more than he liked.' Lizzy and Jane return home to find their two youngest sisters, Kitty and Lydia, obsessed by the officers currently in town. Their father is relieved to have them back, as it makes a change in conversation.

Chapter 13: Mr. Collins And The Infamous Entail

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