Chapter 3 – The Ball
Mr. Bingley returns Mrs. Bennett’s visit, but the girls
are absent, and they will not get the chance to meet him until the next Ball is held in the neighborhood.
There is much gossip in the neighborhood as to the extent and content of
Bingley’s party at the forthcoming Ball. At the end, he brings himself, his two sisters, his brother-in-law and a friend, Mr. Darcy.
It is clear that Darcy finds the Ball disagreeable, and those there consider him to be haughty and proud. Elizabeth overhears Bingley encouraging Darcy to ask Elizabeth to dance, but he refuses to take up Bingley’s suggestion.
Mrs. Bennett notices that Bingley danced with Jane twice - more than with
any other lady present. Mrs. Bennett hopes, “If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for.”
It has been a successful night for Jane, but Elizabeth feels offended at
Austen makes the point of emphasizing the gossip that
is prevalent in this small town society. There seems to be more delight in making up stories, than establishing the truth of any situation. If you don’t know the facts – make them up!
We also, in this Chapter, get an insight into the characters of Jane and
Jane is placid and accepts the situation she is in. This is perhaps part of her charm in that she is beautiful and demure, and these are qualities that make her noticeable to Bingley. Elizabeth, however, is more forthcoming, and ready to speak her mind, and as will be shown later on, she is protective of her family, in particular Jane. She criticizes Jane for always seeing the best in people, and turning a blind eye to their faults. This is ironic for Elizabeth is blind to her own pride and prejudice, as will be revealed later.
We are made aware of the Bennett’s’ neighbors, the Lucas family, in particular Charlotte Lucas, who will
have an important part to play later.11