Bennet establishes memorably one of the key tones of the entire novel: that of irony or satire. The famous first sentence - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" - is funny because however much the Mrs. Bennets of the world might wish it to be true (and thus by them, at least, it is a truth universally acknowledged), it is not in fact true. Throughout the novel, pay close attention to extreme language - words like "necessarily," "impossible," or "universally." Austen has a sophisticated view of the world's complexity, and characters in her novels who express themselves or their opinions in such unreserved and extreme terms are often guilty of confused or biased reasoning. You will see such faulty perspectives not just in the novel's comic characters, such as Mrs. Bennet; they also constitute the "prejudice" of the novel's title, from which any number o!.
f more generally reasonable and admirable characters suffer throughout the novel. Be on the lookout for examples of such prejudice as you continue reading. .
The first conversation in this section sets up Charlotte as Elizabeth's other confidante, a foil to Jane: Jane is physically beautiful, and has a somewhat simplistic, overly optimistic view of human nature; Charlotte is plain, and has a somewhat cynical view of humanity, particularly concerning the relations between the sexes. Both women have Elizabeth's ear, one at times more than the other; be aware of this shifting dynamic as you continue reading. .
Elizabeth's visit to Netherfield gives her the opportunity to observe Bingley, his sisters, and Darcy at their home for several days. Note that despite her apparently unshakeable dislike of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth is certainly capable of revising her views of others: on first meeting the Bingley sisters, she disliked them; then on seeing their concern for Jane, she comes to suppose them less objectionable; but finally, perceiving that their concern for Jane evaporates when they are not in the same room with her, Elizabeth returns to "the enjoyment of all her original dislike" (Ch.