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Mrs. Bennet and her daughters visit the Lucas Family the day after the Meryton ball to discuss the events of the previous night. Charlotte Lucas has overheard Bingley remark that Jane is pretty and that he likes her very much. Everyone unanimously approves of Bingley, but they are in disagreement about Darcy. Most of the women criticize his standoffish behavior and haughtiness; but Charlotte defends Darcy by saying that his ‘pride’ is an inevitable corollary to his position in society as a "fine young man with a family fortune". Elizabeth agrees with her partially and says that she could have easily pardoned Darcy’s pride if he had not affronted hers. Mary philosophically muses about the distinction between ‘pride’ and ‘vanity’.
The chapter also gives a brief account of the Lucas family--Sir William Lucas was a tradesman formerly and was knighted when he was a mayor. He is friendly and courteous. His wife is a kind soul, but too dull. They have many children, the eldest of whom is Charlotte, a sensible, intelligent, and practical girl.
Chapter V is important for developing the Themes of the novel. The theme of appearance versus reality is clearly depicted. Society in the novel greatly values social manners and bearings. Conduct is of primary importance to them, but good conduct does not necessarily reflect good character. Jane Austen seems to warn about this. She points out that appearances are not reality. In fact, appearances help people to hide their true personalities. If one is blindly led by appearances, it can prove to be dangerous. This fact is later proved by Wickham. He has all the outward appearances of charm and openness, but these traits hide his wickedness. Even Elizabeth, who is intelligent and sensible, is entirely charmed by his courtly manners. Darcy’s outward pride also hides the goodness that is innate in him.
The original title of the novel was First Impressions. In truth, Pride and Prejudice shows the folly of trusting one’s first impressions, which need to be corrected by keen observation and mature understanding in order to make a correct final judgment of character. Darcy’s manners are disagreeable and arrogant, but as the novel progresses, he proves to be superior in understanding and character. In fact, his character has a greater depth than Bingley’s. But Darcy also has the weakness of judging people by first impressions and outward behavior. At first, he sees nothing so attractive about Meryton or Elizabeth. Later, he values Elizabeth’s frankness and spirit much more than her outward appearance.
Jane Austen also frowned on snobbery and false sophistication. Her portrayal of Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh proves the truth of this. Even her brief analysis of the Bingley sisters bristles with irony and mockery of the false values by which they live. The Lucas family also acts with snobbery, even though they are only of middle class. In this chapter, they tell of snooping on the conversation of others and then gossiping it as fact.
The conclusion of chapter V gives, for the first time, some outward views on pride. Charlotte Lucas believes that if a person has the advantages of money, social position, and good looks, he has a right to be proud. Elizabeth somewhat agrees with this view. Mary ridiculously tries to distinguish between pride and vanity. But the author seems to make no distinction between the two, as she criticizes both in the novel.
It is important to remember that the major idea of the book is "pride" and "prejudice", and both have come into play by this point in the book. Elizabeth’s pride (her hurt feelings over Darcy’s insult of her) prevents her from seeing any good in Darcy; she is totally prejudiced against him. Likewise, the proud Darcy is prejudiced against Elizabeth’s look and cannot see her good and spirited character underneath.