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Summary Chapter 16

The girls and Mr. Collins dine with Mr. Philips and his wife. Mr. Wickham has also accepted the invitation to dinner. Mrs. Philips is flattered by Mr. Collins’ compliments and very impressed by his social contacts, mainly Lady de Bourgh. The conversation bores the Bennet daughters.

Mr. Wickham livens things up when he arrives. Even Elizabeth admires him, and he in turn seems to favor her. This leaves Mrs. Philips as the main audience for Mr. Collins.

Elizabeth is very curious to learn about the trouble between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. He asks about how long Mr. Darcy has been staying at Netherfield. Elizabeth answers his question, then remarks that she doesn’t know Mr. Darcy well but finds him disagreeable. Mr. Wickham claims that he is biased, having known Mr. Darcy’s family for a long time. Her view of Mr. Darcy would not be popular in some circles.

Elizabeth explains that Mr. Darcy is not well-liked in town on account of his pride. Mr. Wickham replies that most people are impressed by his status or intimidated by him. He personally finds Mr. Darcy bad-tempered. They don’t get along and don’t like to see one another, but he has no intention of leaving town because of it.

Mr. Darcy’s father had been a great man and a good friend to him. Mr. Darcy has behaved badly to him, but he does not retaliate out of the memory of the late Mr. Darcy, Sr. Mr. Wickham then changes the subject, commenting on how pleased he is with the town. He hadn’t intended to enter the military life, having been brought up to enter the church. He claims that Mr. Darcy Sr. had provided for him, but his will was disregarded by his son. Mr. Wickham could do nothing since it had been an informal request. However, he refuses to ruin Mr. Darcy out of respect for his father’s memory.

Elizabeth is impressed by him. Mr. Wickham continues to say that Mr. Darcy is no doubt jealous of him. Mr. Wickham’s father had served Mr. Darcy’s father and had been a highly valued friend—so much so that Mr. Darcy Sr. agreed to provide for Wickham when his father died.

Mr. Wickham claims that though Mr. Darcy’s pride causes him to mistreat Wickham, he is very popular. He is generous to the poor and dotes on his sister. Elizabeth asks about what Miss Darcy is like. Mr. Wickham claims that she was very affectionate as a child and fond of him, but she has since become like her brother. She is very accomplished and handsome.

Elizabeth cannot understand how Mr. Darcy can be a friend of the good-natured Bingley. Mr. Wickham claims that Mr. Darcy can be charming when he desires to be.

Mrs. Philips beats Mr. Collins horribly at whist. He assures her repeatedly that he is well provided for and doesn’t mind losing the money.

Mr. Wickham is interested in learning that Mr. Collins is acquainted with Catherine de Bourgh. Elizabeth tells him she patronizes her cousin, but it hasn’t been a long acquaintance. Mr. Wickham reveals that de Bourgh is Mr. Darcy’s aunt. There is much hope that Mr. Darcy will marry Miss de Bourgh. Elizabeth thinks that this will be a blow to Miss Bingley.

Elizabeth says her impression of Lady Catherine is that she is arrogant and conceited. Mr. Wickham admits he finds her so. She is sensible and clever, though her attributes may be praised more than they deserve because of her status. She is a little dictator.

Mr. Wickham charms everyone, and Elizabeth is enchanted by him. Mr. Collins continues to say he doesn’t mind the money he lost.

Jane Austen