Jaar van uitgave: 1958
Aantal pagina’s: 388 pages
Indeling: There are 61 chapters and they all have a number. Before the chapters there is an introducing by A.C. Ward.
Vormgeving: There are no pictures in the book
The title refers to the gradual union of Fitzwilliam Darcy, held back by unconquerable pride, and Elizabeth Bennet, blinded by unreasonable prejudice.
Samenvatting It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. This was proved by the excitement that spread through the village of Longbourn when, about the close of the eighteenth century, a rich young bachelor named Charles Bingley established himself at Netherfield Park. He was accompanied by his sisters Louisa and Caroline, Louisa’s husband Mr Hurst, and Bingley’s friend Fitzwilliam Darcy. Among those who looked forward to the ball at which Mr Bingley and his party were to be present, were the Bennet family, consisting of the cynical, reserved Mr Bennet, his foolish wife whose sole purpose in life was to get her daughters married, and their five girls. They were among the prominent families of Longbourn, but as Mr Bennet’s estate was entailed, for lack of male heirs, on his distant relation the Rev. Willliam Collins, his daughters had but small portions. At the ball Mr Darcy turned out to be a strikingly handome, but arrogant and disagreeable young man, whose attitude suggested that he thought the Longbourn people far below the dignity of his old name and huge fortune. His easy-going, kindly friend Bingley enjoyed every dance, but Darcy confined himself to the ladies of his own party, declining to be introduced to any other girl. When Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of high spirit and courage, wit and gaiety, overheard Darcy’s remark to Bingley that he did not think Elizabeth pretty enough to tempt him, the first seed of prejudice against him was sown into her heart. This did not spoil her natural playfulness, however, and she was pleased to notice that her good-natured, sweet-tempered, timid elder sister Jane and Mr Bingley felt attracted to each other. In course of time Mrs Bennet managed to bring about a kind of uncertain relationship between the Bennets and the Bingleys, in the hope that Charles Bingley would eventually propose to Jane. But his sisters turned up their noses at the vulgar Mrs Bennet, ridiculed her empty-headed man-hunting daughters Lydia and Kitty, despised the pedantic Mary and envied Elizabeth’s beauty and spirit. Besides, Caroline Bingley had noticed that Darcy, in spite of himself, was beginning to be interested in Elizabeth and, having her eye on him herself, considered Elizabeth a dangerous rival. Jane was the only Bennet girl who found some favour with Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst. Jane was invited to stay at Netherfield Park, but Jane suddenly fell in and therefor Elizabeth has to come too. During this stay the four ladies got on together well enough, so that the prospects for a closer relationship seemed favourable. Caroline Binley, who had meanwhile gathered from Darcy’s reactions that Elizabeth left him cold, grew more friendly and when the girls parted se even shook hands with Elizabeth, while she was definitely cordial towards Jane.
A few days after their homecoming the Bennets were visited by the humourless, pompous clergyman William Collins, whose outward piety and humility of manner was a cloak hiding the self-conceit of his rather weak head. Mr. Collins, was the person, when Mr Bennet was dead, may turn the girls all out of the house as soon as he pleases. He owed his position as a rector to Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a tyrannous old woman who ruthlessly exercised the privileges of her class. Mr Collins had decided to choose a wife for him and he meant to confer this honour on one of the Bennet girls in order to make amends for his inheriting their father’s estate. His reason to marry were, first, that he must set the example of matrimony. Secondly, it will do him a great happiness and thirdly it was an advice and recommendation of the very noble lady. This plan seemed extremely generous and disinterested on his own part, so that he was highly pleased with himself. When he promptly proposed to Elizabeth, however, she convinced him with some difficulty that she could not become his wife. Therefor Mrs. Bennet was really in as most pitiable state. Mr Collins at once shifted his affection to Elizabeth’s best friend Charlotte Lucas, who accepted him for practical reasons. About this time Elizabeth made the acquaintance of Mr Wickham, a good-looking, smooth-spoken, charming army officer who succeeded in winning her sympathy. Wickham told her that his father had faithfully served old Mr Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s father, for many years and that the latter had made provisions in his last will in favour of young Wickham, which Fitzwilliam Darcy had refused to execute on the ground of a legal formality. He also tells that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy were sisters, so she is an aunt to the present Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth, whose head was by now full of Wickham, believed every word he said and felt her antipathy against Darcy growing. Some time later, when Wickham shifted his interest to a richer girl. Elizabeth remained on good terms with him, while her low opinion of Darcy continued as before.
On a Monday, Mrs Bennet had the pleasure of receiving her brother and his wife Gardiner, who came as usual to spend the Christmas at Longbourn. A few days later they left them and Jane went with them to London, where Mr. Bingley also was. There, Jane found out that Miss Bingley wasn’t so friendly. Elizabeth already knew that.
During a visit in March with Sir William and his second daughter Elizabeth paid to the newly married Collinses. First they made a stop in London. She met Darcy, whom she had now come to hate because a first cousin of Darcy’s, who greatly admired her, had told her that it was Darcy who had persuaded Bingley to break with Jane. Elizabeth’s astonishment was be4yond expression when Fitzwilliam unexpectedly confessed that he loved her against his will and asked her hand in marriage, at the same time adding that her family revolted him so strongly that he had to overcome a feeling of degradation. He concluded by saying that he had found his love for her impossible to conquer and that he now expected to be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand and name. Elizabeth, roused to resentment by his language, lost all her composure and indignantly rejected him, accusing him of having spoilt her sister’s happiness, and flinging his cruel behaviour towards Wickham into his face. Darcy hurriedly left for London, leaving Elizabeth a letter which he gave it by himself in which he justified his conduct towards Jane by pleading ignorance as to her love for Bingley, and called Wickham a lying scoundrel who had tried to seduce Darcy’s sister Georgiana. Having read the long, convincing letter Elizabeth began to see things in a different light and she grew thoroughly ashamed of herself. The five weeks, which she had passed in Kent, were nice and she had met Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her ill daughter several times. Now she left them with the second old daughter of Sir William. They went to London and there were Kitty and Lydia and of course Jane. All of them went home. Lydia told that the sires have left Meryton and she tells that Wickham didn’t marry Mary King.
Father Bennet decides to send Lydia to Brighton where the sires were. Elizabeth didn’t think that that was a great idea. The tour of Elizabeth to the Lakes was now the object of her happiest thoughts, but that was cancelled, because Mr Gardiner had to work longer than expected. Therefore they went to Pemberley in Derbyshire, where Mr Darcy lives. The children of the Gardiner family stay at Longbourn. They made a trip to Darcy’s home. She was not persuaded to come with them until they had assured her that the owner was absent. Darcy’s old housekeeper surprised Elizabeth by the praise she heaped on her master. All at once Darcy himself returned from London and he and Elizabeth were cautiously establishing more friendly terms, when misfortune once more descended upon Elizabeth in the form of a letter which informed her that Lydia had eloped with Wickham. But first Elizabeth was introduced to the sister of Darcy and went to a party from Darcy. There she met Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley again. They weren’t nice to each other.
Elizabeth went home and they told her that Colonel Forster is following Lydia and Mr Wickham and they hope the marriage had placed already. Her father is going to London with Colonel Forster to try to discover Lydia. Mother is ill and she doesn’t leave her dressing room. In that time aunt Philips came to Longbourn and Lady Lucas was very kind. They had received a letter from Mr. Collins for their father. He paid his sympathy. Father came home.
Darcy took also action on behalf of the Bennets without Elizabeth’s and Mrs Bennet’s knowledge. He persuaded Wickham to marry Lydia by paying him a large sum of money and buying him a commission in the regular army. >From her father’s conduct in the affair and stray pieces of information Elizabeth drew the conclusion, which was later confirmed by a letter from her aunt, that it was Darcy who had been their good angel. She felt ashamed at seeing her mother, who was kept in the dark, treat him disdainfully. Lydia and Mr Wickham married and went of.
Mr Bingley had meanwhile returned to Netherfield Park and renewed his courtship of Jane, to whom he soon became engaged. Mr Darcy was also in Netherfield Park, but also left again.
A week after their engagement Elizabeth was surprised by a visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who arrogantly tried to extract a promise from her that she would not marry her nephew Darcy. But Lady Catherine achieved the opposite result, for she roused Elizabeth to stubborn opposition and when Lady Catherine told her nephew of Elizbeth’s obstinacy, he lost not time in proposing to Elizabeth once more, this time successfully. He told her that she had taught him a lesson to be not selfish and overbearing. That night she opened her heart to Jane and Jane first reacts not very exciting, but later well. The other day Mr. Darcy went to father to ask the hand of his daughter. Off course he said yes, because Darcy is a rich man, but he also asks to Elizabeth is she really want it. Elizabeth said she does, does like him and she told the story what Mr. Darcy had done for Lydia. Thus Mrs. Bennet was to her great satisfaction provided with three sons-in-law, among whom Wickham remained her favourite.
The Collinses were come to Longbourn, because Charlotte was anxious for Lady Catherine. She gets away till the storm was blown over.
Jane and Elizabeth lived only thirty miles of each other. Kitty was most of the time with them and Mary stayed home with her books. Pemberley was now Georgiana’s home and they were able to love each other. Lady Catherine’s resentment gave way. With the Gardiners, Darcy and Elizabeth were always on the most intimate terms. They really loved them and they were the means of uniting them, because they went to Derbyshire.
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