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Chapters 17, 18, and 19

Chapter 17

Elizabeth relates Wickham's story to Jane the next day. Jane decides that, without the whole story, they cannot choose a side. Lizzy argues that it is much more believable that Bingley has been deceived than that Wickham is lying. The bickering girls are then interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Bingley and his sisters, who invite them to a ball at Netherfield. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst dote on Jane, but pay no attention to anyone else, not even Lizzy. Mrs. Bennet is pleased Bingley invited them personally, Jane can only think of Bingley himself, and Lizzy is busy picturing several dances with Wickham and the stunned look it will induce on Darcy's face. Mr. Collins surprises Lizzy by announcing that he will also attend the ball, and that he is requesting Lizzy's hand for the first two dances. She is crestfallen, but agrees. It finally dawns on her that Mr. Collins has decided that she, from among the Bennet daughters, will make the best wife and mistress of Hunsford Parsonage.

Chapter 18

Upon entering the ball, Elizabeth is disappointed to find that Wickham is not there, and thinks it may because Darcy purposely did not invite him. Mr. Denny, however, explains that Wickham had been called to town on business, but hints that his absence might also have something to do with avoiding Darcy. So angry with Mr. Darcy, Lizzy vows not to speak a word to him that evening, and finds it hard to talk even with Bingley. She awkwardly dances the first two dances with Mr. Collins. Suddenly, she is approached by Darcy, who asks her to dance. Stunned, she agrees, and the instant he walks away, she regrets her acceptance. Thinking it will pain him to be forced to talk, she begins conversation. Darcy mentions the Bennet sisters' walks to Meryton, and Lizzy takes the opportunity to announce her recent acquaintance with Wickham. Darcy only angers, and says that Wickham is not good at keeping friends. Sir Lucas waltzes by, and mentions that they will all soon be dancing again at Bingley and Jane's wedding. Later, Miss Bingley rushes up to Lizzy and says that she has heard Lizzy and Wickham have become close friends. She relates that she knows Wickham says bad things about Darcy, but that they are not true; in fact, the situation is almost entirely to the contrary. Lizzy does not seem to believe this side of the story, answers Miss Bingley rudely, and the woman leaves her. Jane relays Bingley's side of the story, which echoes what his sister has already offered Lizzy. She adds only that Bingley thinks the money was offered only conditionally, and that Wickham had not met the conditions. After Jane goes off with Bingley, Lizzy is joined by Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Collins excitedly offers that he has heard a relative of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's is in attendance, and he feels he must introduce himself. Lizzy begs him not to, but Mr. Collins insists on talking with Mr. Darcy, who gives little care to Collins' introduction. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet talks openly of the marriage she foresees for Jane. Lizzy warns her mother that Mr. Darcy may have overheard, but Mrs. Bennet is unconcerned. The rest of her evening is spent in embarrassment, as each member of the family engages in imprudent behavior - Mary in hogging the piano, Mr. Bennet in publicly scolding her, Mr. Collins for delivering his lengthy speeches, and Mrs. Bennet for nearly everything that comes out of her mouth.

Chapter 19

The next day, Mr. Collins decides it is time to ask Lizzy for her hand in marriage. As Collins begins his proposal, Elizabeth must hold back laughs. He explains that he wants to marry because it is expected of men in the church, that it will add to his happiness, and that Lady Catherine de Bourgh told him to. He then expounds on the virtues of Lady Catherine yet again. Finally, he says that it is important for him to take a Bennet daughter as a wife because he is set to inherit their father's estate. Lizzy interrupts Mr. Collins and declines his proposal. Undaunted, Mr. Collins says he knows some women reject the first, second, and even third proposals, but eventually accept, so he is not surprised or disappointed. Lizzy tells him that he is wrong, that she will not accept his proposal. Mr. Collins expresses his views to the contrary, but Lizzy is resolute. The matter, she says, is settled. Mr. Collins is still undaunted, and declares that he will ask her again. He protests that his connections with the Bennet family and Lady Catherine, his profession, and the fact that Lizzy is likely never to be proposed to again should make his offer valuable. Lizzy again refuses him and he again says he will not give up, and will instead go to her parents.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 ,10, and 11
Chapters 12, 13, and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17, 18, and 19
Chapters 20, 21, and 22
Chapters 23, 24, and 25
Chapters 26, 27, and 28
Chapters 29, 30, and 31
Chapters 32, 33, and 34
Chapter 35
Chapters 36, 37, and 38
Chapters 39 and 40
Chapters 41 and 42
Chapters 43 and 44
Chapters 45 and 46
Chapters 47 and 48
Chapters 49 and 50
Chapters 51 and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56 and 57
Chapters 58 and 59
Chapters 60 and 61


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