In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, chapters 18 and 19 are very different but, however they both have the importance of contributing to the establishment of Elizabeth’s state of mind at this point of the story. Chapter 18 is lengthy and very serious with a string of events, whereas Chapter 19 is brief and very comic.
In Chapter 18, Elizabeth’s attitude towards Mr. Darcy is very cold and uncivil whereas Mr Darcy’s behaviour is very pleasant and even goes to the extent of inviting her to dance. Elizabeth also tries to provoke Darcy into telling her more information, by dragging the topic of Mr. Wickham up from underneath the dusty rug. By doing this Elizabeth brings to Darcy’s knowledge that she believes him to have behaved and acted in a very unreasonable manner towards Mr. Wickham. Even after she has received several accounts of Wickham’s character from Miss Bingley and Mr Bingley and she has been given further reason to doubt Wickham, but however refuses to change what she thinks.
Elizabeth trusts that Miss Bingley’s opinion of Wickham as prejudiced when, Elizabeth, her own regard for Mr. Wickham is prejudiced towards him and against Mr. Darcy. This is very paradoxical and ironic. During the evening at the Netherfield Ball, Elizabeth is continuously embarrassed by her family. Firstly by Mr. Collins, whom she is obliged to dance with. During the two dances, Mr. Collins shows his clumsy and insensible character with his blundering steps and movements, portraying Elizabeth with a very undesirable dancing partner. Later on during the Ball, Mr. Collins feels it is his duty that he should introduce himself to Mr. Darcy, after he is aware to the fact that he is the nephew of his dear Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Considering the time period of this novel, it was very rude and ignorant of Mr. Collins to attempt to acquaint himself with Mr. Darcy without a formal introduction. Elizabeth was highly embarrassed as the reception that was received by Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy was shocked and astounded by this introduction resulting in very abrupt and arrogant answers given to Collins. Further on Elizabeth was appalled by the presence of her family as her mother, Mrs. Bennet, decides to broadcast her happiness on the progressing relationship of Jane and Mr. Bingley. She also depicts her hopeful beliefs on their possible marriage, in the close proximity of Mr. Darcy. Also Mary Bennet accepts an invitation of singing and playing at the piano, and is insensitive towards Elizabeth’s subtleties that she should reject. The evening at the Netherfield Ball was very embarrassing and upsetting for Elizabeth.
In Chapter 19, Elizabeth’s state of mind is taken further onto more of a negative route due to Mr. Collins marriage proposal. During his proposal Mr. Collins, indirectly and absent-mindedly insults Elizabeth, “Let her be and active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way.” He uses Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s words to describe his perfect wife and refers to Elizabeth. In this quote Mr. Collins says that Elizabeth is from a low-class background and has a small amount of money to her. Elizabeth refuses his proposal for marriage, and says, “You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so.” Mr. Collins does not accept Elizabeth’s refusal and classifies it as a “game” played by woman, to conceal their true feelings towards a man “whom they secretly desire.” However in Elizabeth’s case, this is not the truth, but Mr. Collins keeps on pushing Elizabeth.
Both the events and conversations in these two chapters contribute to Elizabeth’s state of mind in a very large manner. Elizabeth’s state of mind is very negative and prejudiced. Her embarrassments induced by her relations have caused her mind to be in a negative status. Also the proposal by Mr. Collins simply added to Elizabeth’s dismay and embarrassment of what happened the previous evening at the Netherfield Ball. Chapter 19 was relatively humorous due to Mr. Collins proposal and multiple speeches. Chapter 18 was rather serious as a result of heated discussions between Darcy and Elizabeth, the embarrassment of Mr. Collin’s introduction to Darcy, the performance given by her younger sister Mary and of course, the manner of Mrs. Bennet’s talks to the society about Jane and Mr. Bingley’s hopeful marriage. These two chapters were not a good time for Elizabeth.