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Chapters 11 and 12
When Jane is feeling better, Elizabeth takes her to the Netherfield drawing room. Mr. Bingley is delighted to see her. Darcy is immersed in a book, and Miss Bingley seems more interested in peeking in his book rather than reading hers. Darcy tries to ignore her; exasperated, she tries to draw Darcy’s attention by walking around the room, but Darcy does not even look up. Caroline invites Elizabeth to walk with her and invites Darcy to go along. Darcy and Elizabeth enjoy a good-humored conversation, and Darcy, progressively enchanted by her, begins to feel the danger of paying the young lady too much attention. The next morning Elizabeth is determined to leave and asks to borrow Mr. Bingley’s carriage for the purpose. She and Jane depart the next day. As they leave, Darcy avoids Elizabeth, and Miss Bingley is noticeably polite to her. Mr. Bennet is happy to have his daughters back, but his wife does not seem to share his happiness and is not very cordial in her welcome.
In this chapter, Darcy and Elizabeth verbally joust with one another. Referring to Elizabeth, Darcy says that the wisest men are made the greatest fool by a person whose first object in life is a joke. Elizabeth retorts that follies, nonsense, and whims entertain her. She also points out that Darcy is devoid of these things. She then proceeds to prick his ego by harping on vanity and pride, which she knows are implicit weaknesses of his personality. Darcy remarks that everyone has a defect in character which often makes a person blind to the good qualities of others. This remark rings true for all the characters in the novel with the exception of Jane, who never sees any faults in other people. Elizabeth tells Darcy, "Your defect is a propensity to hate everybody." Darcy retorts, "And yours..... is willfully to misunderstand others". It is obvious that pride and prejudice are still getting in the way of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. It is ironic that Elizabeth, who is usually practical and insightful, cannot see beyond her prejudice at this point in the novel
Besides being entertaining, the rich and sparkling dialogue advances the plot. Darcy is bewitched by Elizabeth’s wit and feels it is dangerous to pay her more attention. As a result, he decides to avoid her, as evidenced when she and Jane depart.
Mr. Bennet is delighted at the return of Jane and Elizabeth. Their mother, however, does not seem very pleased. She would have preferred them to stay at Netherfield longer, in order to advance their chances with Bingley and Darcy.