Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel is about an upper class family with five daughters, few connections and little money to tempt suitable husbands in a society where marriage is one of the few respectable options for women. The highlights of the Bennets’ social life in rural England include balls, gossip, and calling on friends and relatives. When Mr Bingley moves into the neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet hopes he will marry one of her daughters. Mr Bingley does show an interest in Jane, the eldest daughter. However, Jane conceals her feelings for him because of her sense of propriety. While Mr Bingley is an ideal gentleman, his friend Mr Darcy doesn’t exhibit social graces. When prompted to dance with Elizabeth, the Bennets’ second eldest daughter, he makes objections that she overhears. Elizabeth is a strong willed woman with little patience for such arrogance. The younger three Bennet girls behave inappropriately in public, especially the youngest, Lydia, who flirts openly with officers. Mrs Bennet sends Jane off to dinner with Mr Bingley’s sisters without the carriage in hopes she will spend the night if it rains thus spending more time with Mr Bingley. Jane falls ill from travelling in the rain and spends several days recovering at the Bingleys. Mr Darcy’s opinion of Elizabeth improves when she visits her sister. He starts to fall in love with her. Elizabeth prefers a charming officer called Mr Wickham who claims to have been ill treated by Mr Darcy. This strengthens her resolve not to marry the proud Mr Darcy despite his great fortune. She also refuses to marry Mr Collins, whose pathetic intellect and conversational skills are unsuitable for Elizabeth’s personality. Mr Collins promptly marries her best friend Charlotte Lucas. While visiting Charlotte, Elizabeth meets Lady Catherine, an opinionated, wealthy woman who intends to marry her sickly daughter to her nephew, Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy does not intend to follow his aunt’s wishes – he asks Elizabeth to marry him.
Elizabeth rejects him on the basis of his arrogance, his treatment of Mr Wickham and his part in preventing Mr Bingley from marrying Jane that she had just learned of. Mr Darcy tries to improve her opinion of him in a letter pointing out his objections to her family’s inappropriate behaviour, and explaining Mr Wickham wasn’t poorly treated – Mr Wickham had tried to elope with his younger sister with the aim of getting her large fortune. Elizabeth next meets Mr Darcy by chance when she is touring Derbyshire where he lives. He has improved the proud behaviour she complained about. She starts to believe Mr Darcy is a true gentleman and Mr Wickham is a fraud. Then learns in a letter from Jane that her youngest sister, Lydia, has eloped with Mr Wickham. She is still in shock when Mr Darcy calls on her - she tells him the details that could ruin her family’s reputation. Her family is surprised when Mr Wickham marries Lydia because she has no fortune. Elizabeth discovers Mr Darcy paid Mr Wickham to marry Lydia thus saving her family from great embarrassment. With Lydia married under such circumstances, the other sisters’ hopes of marriage seemed even further reduced. Yet, Lady Catherine, worried Mr Darcy might marry Elizabeth, asks her to promise not to marry Mr Darcy. When Lady Catherine complains to Mr Darcy that Elizabeth refused this request, he realises she might accept his proposal. Elizabeth agrees to marry Mr Darcy now that she is in love with him. Mr Bingley gets the courage to ask Jane to marry him. Mrs Bennet is proud to have three girls married.