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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 20

Summary

Soon after Elizabeth leaves the room, Mrs. Bennet enters and congratulates Collins on the most happy prospect of his becoming her son-in-law. Mr. Collins accepts her good wishes and gives her the particulars of what has happened with Elizabeth. He explains his belief that Elizabeth’s refusal stems from her "bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy of her character". Mrs. Bennet, who knows her outspoken daughter very well, does believe that her denial is meant as shy encouragement. She explains to Mr. Collins that Elizabeth is headstrong and foolish, but assures him that her daughter will be brought to reason. When Collins hears Mrs. Bennet’s assessment of Elizabeth’s personality, he doubts whether he has chosen the correct daughter and voices his concern. A flustered Mrs. Bennet, who sees a marriage opportunity slipping away, contradicts her prior statements about Elizabeth. She then hurries to tell her husband, asking him to advise Elizabeth to accept Mr. Collins’ proposal. Mr. Bennet tells Elizabeth that her mother will never see her face again if she does not marry Collins, but at the same time, he will not see her face again if she does marry Collins.


Mr. Collins’ pride is finally hurt by Elizabeth’s refusal. He has truly wanted to find an amiable companion among the Bennet daughters and convinced himself that a marriage to one of them would be an advantage to all the Bennet family. He says he is sorry that he is misunderstood and apologizes if he has been rude in any way.

Notes

Mrs. Bennet is upset with Elizabeth’s refusal to marry Collins and promises him that she will bring her daughter to reason about the marriage. As always, she is anxious to have all her daughters married, especially the older ones. She does not care that Mr. Collins is foolish and an unsuitable husband, especially since Elizabeth is not her favorite child. It should be remembered that she told Mr. Collins that Jane was unavailable to him, for she hopes for better things for her and believes that she will marry Bingley. On the other hand, Mr. Bennet fully understands and agrees with Elizabeth’s refusal. He humorously states that if she had married Collins, he would disown her.

Mr. Collins’ resignation to Elizabeth’s rejection, ‘inevitable evils’ as he calls it, is as pompously worded as his proposal. Although Mr. Collins assumes a resentful silence after his rejection, he does not shorten his visit.

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