Mr. Collins is more than pleased that he’ll be able to show off the favor of his patroness to his visitors. He had expected an invitation to tea, but not so soon. He didn’t expect an invitation for the whole group to dine at Rosings.
Mr. Collins prepares them so they will not be so unnerved. He tells Elizabeth to wear her best dress but not to be dismayed that it is not as elegant as her hostess’s. Lady Catherine will not judge her and likes the obvious differences in rank.
Mr. Collins does rush them to prepare, for Catherine de Bourgh does not like to be kept waiting for her meal. Maria Lucas becomes frightened. Even Sir William is nervous. Elizabeth is not easily impressed and keeps her courage.
Charlotte introduces the party to Lady Catherine, Miss de Bourgh, and Mrs. Jenkinson. Sir William bows but is unable to speak. Maria is also struck dumb.
Elizabeth finds Lady Catherine to be just what Mr. Wickham said she’d be—a woman full of self-importance who liked people to be aware of their inferior rank. Miss de Bourgh is pale, thin, and sickly. Mrs. Jenkinson, who is focused on the girl, is also unremarkable.
Lady Catherine is gratified by the admiration of Mr. Collins and Sir William. Elizabeth finds it difficult to speak to either Charlotte or Miss de Bourgh, whom she is seated between. Charlotte is listening to Lady Catherine. Mrs. Jenkinson is busy inducing Miss de Bourgh to eat. Maria is still silent.
Lady Catherine speaks her opinion about many things, and it is obvious she is not used to being contradicted by anyone. She asks Charlotte about her household and gives her plenty of advice.
She then questions Elizabeth about herself and her family, which Elizabeth finds rude but answers politely. Lady Catherine is glad that Charlotte will inherit the Longbourn estate, but she generally does not approve of that type of succession that was stated in the will.
Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth about her and her sisters’ accomplishments. She is shocked that not all of them were instructed on how to play and sing. She is critical that Mrs. Bennet never had them taught how to draw. Elizabeth says her father was more responsible for that, as he hated London—where they would have received instruction.
Lady Catherine is also shocked that they had no governess. Elizabeth tells her that they had tutors and were always encouraged to read—though some of her sisters proved to be idle. Lady Catherine comments that a governess would have prevented that.
Lady Catherine is stunned that all the Bennet girls are out in society before the eldest are married. Elizabeth says that it is ridiculous to keep her younger sisters back when the eldest daughters have no desire to marry. It would cause disharmony.
Lady Catherine remarks that Elizabeth is opinionated for one so young. Elizabeth refuses to give her age when asked.
Lady Catherine, the Collinses, and Sir William play quadrille. Lady Catherine is full of anecdotes and likes to point out mistakes in game play. Miss de Bourgh plays cassino with Maria, Elizabeth, and Mrs. Jenkinson. Mrs. Jenkinson fusses over Miss de Bourgh’s comfort, and nobody talks except over game play.
Lady Catherine provides coaches for the ride home. Elizabeth gives a more favorable account of the affair than she really feels for Charlotte’s sake.