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Miss Bingley’s reply to Jane’s letter arrives and indicates that they are all settled in London for the winter. Most of the letter cruelly speaks of Miss Darcy and her many attractions. Caroline also boasts about the growing intimacy between her and her brother Bingley, who is residing with Darcy. Elizabeth still feels that Bingley is being influenced by his sisters, who want to destroy his admiration for Jane. She criticizes Bingley for being so easily swayed and manipulated, but Jane will not listen to any criticism of Bingley, Caroline, or Mrs. Hurst.
After the arrival of Caroline’s letter, the mood at Longbourn is somber. Mr. Wickham’s frequent visits seem to alleviate some of the gloom. The entire Bennet family is told about Darcy’s alleged treatment of Wickham, and everyone accepts his account as factual. Even Jane condemns Darcy; but she still believes there may be extenuating circumstances that are unknown to them.
It is obvious that Caroline Bingley is being intentionally cruel in her letter and is trying to encourage a relationship between Miss Darcy and her brother. She definitely does not want to see Bingley in love with a Bennet girl. Elizabeth believes the Bingley is being manipulated, and she criticizes him for not standing up to his sisters. Bingley comes across as a lukewarm character, radically contrary to his assertive friend, Darcy.
Wickham’s visits at the Bennets become more frequent, and the whole family, especially Elizabeth, is attracted to his jovial and friendly manner. Since Darcy is away in London, Wickham sees no danger of his story being contradicted, so he openly shares it with everyone in the Bennet household. They all accept the story as truth, and even Jane is swayed in her opinion.