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"This part of his intelligence, though unheard by Lydia, was caught by Elizabeth, and, as it assured her that Darcy was not less answerable for Wickham's absence than if her first surmise had been just, every
feeling of displeasure against the former was so sharpened by immediate disappointment, that she could hardly reply with tolerable civility to
the polite inquiries which he directly afterwards approached to make." (Austen, 1813, p. 68)
Elizabeth had been eagerly awaiting Mr. Wickham's arrival to the ball. She was dressed especially elegantly. After Denny tells her Wickham has been sent to London and will not be attending the ball. Her mood drops and is worsened by the two lousy dances with Collins.
"When those dances were over, she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that,
without knowing what she did, she accepted him." (Austen, 1813, p. 68)
Elizabeth had been fond, in a mysterious way, of Darcy through the entire novel and had always wished to dance with him. After Wickham's absence, Elizabeth was gloom and didn't expect to be asked to dance. Eventually Darcy, almost reluctantly, asked for Elizabeth's hand and being extremely surprised, she accepted without really processing what had just happened.
"They stood for some time without speaking a word; and she began to imagine that their silence was to last through the two dances, and at first was resolved not to break it; till suddenly fancying that it would
be the greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she made some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was again
silent. After a pause of some minutes, she addressed him a second time with: 'It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked
about the dance, and you ought to make some sort of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.'" (Austen, 1813, p. 69)
The entire encounter between Elizabeth and Darcy during their dances was extremely tense and awkward. It was difficult for the two to even speak for awhile. Even after they started talking, Elizabeth made it more awkward by bring up Wickham to Darcy which was clearly a sore subject and was not in the interest of Darcy to be discussed.
"Let me recommend you, however, as a friend, not to give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for as to Mr. Darcy's
using him ill, it is perfectly false; for, on the contrary, he has
always been remarkably kind to him, though George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner." (Austen, 1813, p. 72)
Miss. Bingley has been portrayed through the entire novel as a spiteful, overly-prideful, and judgmental and this is only confirmed in her warning to Elizabeth about the character of Mr. Wickham. There is no reason or evidence behind her argument and is only perceived by Elizabeth to have been originated out of spite based on the opinions of Darcy.
"In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother's words, or persuade her to describe her felicity in a less audible whisper; for, to her inexpressible vexation, she could perceive that the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for being nonsensical." (Austen, 1813, p. 75)
Elizabeth was embarrassed by her mother's aloofness to her loudness. Mrs. Bennet was making a remark about how Elizabeth and Darcy were destined to marry but didn't realize she was loud enough for half to the room to hear her. She was embarrassed even further when her sister Mary sung to the entire ball and made a horrible impression for the family with her horrid performance.
"You are too hasty, sir," she cried. "You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without further loss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than to decline them." (Austen, 1813, p. 81)
Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth soon after the ball much to the amusement of Elizabeth. She rejects him because she is nowhere near to seeing him fit to suit her as a husband. Mr. Collins does not understand the seriousness of her rejection and insists she will say yes after her parents persuasion.
"But, depend upon it, Mr. Collins," she added, "that Lizzy shall be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it directly. She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not know her own interest but I will make her know it." (Austen, 1813, p. 83)
Mrs. Bennet is extremely upset and disappointed in Elizabeth's decision to reject Collins' proposal and she insists she will do for it is in the best interest of the family and more importantly, Mrs. Bennet herself. She tells Elizabeth she will never speak to her again if she refuses his marriage.
8. Lost Hope
"I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my dearest friend;
but we will hope, at some future period, to enjoy many returns of that delightful intercourse we have known, and in the meanwhile may lessen the pain of separation by a very frequent and most unreserved correspondence." (Austen, 1813, p. 88)
Bingley informs Jane that he will be leaving Netherfield Park to return to London and they will not see each other for awhile. This causes her to lose hope of ever obtaining a relationship and marriage with Bingley.
"The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure
and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained." (Austen, 1813, p. 92)
Mr. Collins, only a week after insisting Elizabeth will marry him, decides to propose to Charlotte Lucas. This makes Mrs. Bennet very angry at her daughter for not accepting Collins' proposal.
"Mr. Collins, to be sure, was neither sensible
nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune,
and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want." (Austen, 1813, p. 92)
Charlotte Lucas accepts Collins' proposal on strictly rational reasoning. She isn't particularly attracted to Collins but she finds him fit to be a good husband and is wealthy enough for her to marry. She isn't ecstatic but she is contempt.