Chapters 6 and 7 – Matchmaking Plot
Netherfield Hall receives more and more visits from Jane and Elizabeth.
Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst become fond of Jane, and the relationship
between Jane and Bingley continues to blossom.
Although Elizabeth thinks that Bingley will be a very good match for her sister, she still regards Bingley’s two sisters as self-centered and superior. Her view of Mr. Darcy remains unaltered, still thinking that he has not changed his views about her.
Darcy has the ability to conceal his feelings and is becoming increasingly
concerned about the attraction he feels for Elizabeth. Miss Bingley senses this, and never fails to take the opportunity of bringing Elizabeth down in Darcy’s eyes.
One day, Jane receives a formal request to come to Netherfield for dinner,
and Mrs. Bennett sees the opportunity to do some serious matchmaking in order to clinch an engagement between Jane and Bingley.
She advises Jane to travel on horseback to Netherfield as it looks as if it might rain, and she will be forced to spend the night rather than ride home in bad weather. The plot works better than expected as Jane arrives soaked at Netherfield and as a result comes down with a cold. Mr. Bennett chides his wife for her over-zealous matchmaking and says to her, “If your daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness – if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley and under your orders.” Mrs. Bennett replies, “Oh! I am not at all afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds. She will be taken good care of. As long as she stays there, it is all very well.” Mrs. Bennett seems content that her ploy has worked, but Elizabeth is concerned about her sister’s welfare and decides to walk the three miles to Netherfield to see how Jane is faring.
When Elizabeth arrives at Netherfield, Jane is sicker than she imagined, and
Miss Bingley reluctantly invites Elizabeth to stay with Jane. The Bingley’s were somewhat surprised at Elizabeth’s entrance.
Elizabeth is fast becoming the most interesting
character in the novel. While her older sister Jane has beauty, her character is rather dull. She is just what Bingley is looking for – a beautiful, but obedient partner. In contrast, Elizabeth is
outspoken and adventurous – rare qualities in women of this Regency period, and these very qualities are what attract Darcy.
He is not looking for a subservient mate, but one who will challenge him intellectually. Elizabeth demonstrates vibrancy, intelligence, and courage by staying with people who consider her to be inferior, but the bond with her ill sister is stronger. One of Elizabeth’s most redeeming features is her dark eyes, whose spark mirrors her intelligence.