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|Introducing the Netherfield Party (long)
Written by Kathryn Ann
(4/13/2010 10:29 a.m.)
Since we are in the opening chapters of the novel, looking at how characters are described upon introduction is of interest to me. We have already heard about Mr. Bingley from Mrs. Bennet in Chapter 1, as discussed below on the board, but now we meet him, and his party.
And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five altogether -- Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man. A simple enough introduction that is expanded upon with a light stroke in the next paragraph, except for Mr. Darcy, who gets quite a bit of attention heaped upon him by the author. First he is determined to be “a fine figure of a man” etc. and yet in the very same sentence the “tide of his popularity” turns: Darcy is forbidding, disagreeable, unworthy.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. Bingley and Darcy are set apart from the others with more fulsome descriptions. The sisters and Hurst get very brief sketches at this point, Hurst's to his detriment!
The gentlemen pronounced him [Darcy] to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. Apparently, Darcy's looks are deceiving.
What makes Bingley so agreeable? Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend!
What turned the tide against Darcy? Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment, by his having slighted one of her daughters.
We haven't heard about that slight yet, but the author has set up Bingley - he is as good as he looks - in contrast to Darcy, who's character is decided by his behavior.
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