Facts in Pride and Prejudice
Facts Examples in Pride and Prejudice:
"Netherfield Park..." See in text (Chapter I)
Austen may have chosen the name “Netherfield” because the Bingleys are not truly aristocratic. They acquired wealth through trade, so they would have been considered nouveau riche: newly rich people who are not actually part of the aristocracy (the highest social class besides royalty). The nouveau riche were controversial in Austen’s time because, though they had a lot of money, they were not members of the noble landed gentry that passed down their wealth over centuries.
"Michaelmas..." See in text (Chapter I)
Michaelmas is the Christian Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (as it is traditionally named by the Anglican Church). St. Michael is one of the primary angelic warriors who fought against Satan and is considered a protector against the darkness of night. It was believed that evil, or at least negative energy, intensified in the dark. Families would therefore require strength during the darker months of the year, so Michaelmas is celebrated (in Western churches) on September 29—right as the days begin to noticeably shorten. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Feast usually celebrates Saints Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and the archangels.
"four thousand a year..." See in text (Chapter I)
Four thousand pounds a year is roughly equivalent to $400,000 US dollars. Trying to understand the current buying power of currency in Austen’s day is difficult. However, from a literary standpoint, buying power is not as important as Austen’s overall message that it is important to have a comfortable level of wealth.
"are to be in the house..." See in text (Chapter I)
Michaelmas is also one of the English quarter days—one of four days each year on which servants are hired and rents are due. The other three quarter days are Lady Day (March 25), Midsummer Day (June 24), and Christmas Day (December 25).
"forms of introduction,..." See in text (Chapter II)
In Austen’s day, there was a strict social hierarchy that determined how individuals would go about introducing themselves to one another. Since Mr. Bingley is a wealthy and upper-class man (even if he is not from a noble family), he is higher up on the social hierarchy than the Bennets. Therefore, it is important that they make a good impression—especially if they want him to marry one of their daughters. It would have been proper and decorous for one of the Bennets to facilitate the introduction between Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Long.
"assemblies,..." See in text (Chapter II)
Assemblies were public dances (balls) funded by subscription. This means that anyone who wanted to attend had to regularly pay a little bit of money in order to sponsor the assembly. Given that assemblies were public (anyone could go as long as they paid), they were not as respectable as the exclusive, private balls held by the wealthy. They were also held in public assembly rooms, as opposed to the ornate ballrooms of the upper class. Nevertheless, public assemblies were considered a major highlight of middle class social life.
"trimming a hat..." See in text (Chapter II)
In Austen’s day, it was common for middle and upper-class women to trim (add decorations to) hats in order to keep them in fashion—and avoid having to spend money on a new hat every season. Aside from being economical, trimming hats was a distinctly lady-like pastime, one of several feminine “accomplishments” that Austen highlights in Pride and Prejudice.
"Boulanger..." See in text (Chapter III)
The “Boulanger” was a dance that originated in France. Most of the dances during Pride and Prejudice’s time were lively and very active; they involved jumping, skipping, and kicking. The “Boulanger” would have lasted between 20 and 30 minutes.
" talked of giving one himself at Netherfield..." See in text (Chapter III)
Mr. Bingley offers to host a private ball, which differs from an assembly because the Bingleys can be selective about invitations. This not only makes the event quite exclusive, but it shows how unusual Mr. Bingley’s behavior is: he is inviting common people to an event they would not normally attend. Mr. Bingley’s conduct suggests that, while he is wealthy, he is not truly of an aristocratic class. Someone like Mr. Darcy, who comes from an ancient noble family, would know better. Still, Mr. Bingley’s apparent unawareness of social differences is one of the qualities people like most about him.
"Darcy..." See in text (Chapter III)
“Darcy,” which derives from the Norman French “d’Arcy,” is the name of several ancient baronages that had died out by the time Pride and Prejudice was written. The name—as well as the character of Mr. Darcy—is meant to be associated with the ancient aristocracy and contrasted with newly-monied families like the Bingleys.
"Hertfordshire..." See in text (Chapter III)
Hertfordshire is a county located in the south of England. Most of the action in Pride and Prejudice takes place there. Austen possibly chose Hertfordshire because of its proximity to London. Every year, during the “London Season” (which usually took place after Easter), wealthy families would leave their country estates for the most fashionable neighborhoods of London. One of the highlights of the London Season involved what was essentially a massive marriage market: young ladies would “come out” to high society and try to find a wealthy husband—a central goal in the novel.
"“If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled..." See in text (Chapter III)
Mrs. Bennet’s obsession with marrying off her daughters is a classic example of the Marriage Plot—a popular storyline in 19th-century British novels. The Marriage Plot, as the name suggests, always ends in marriage and also involves a strong emphasis on the pursuit of marriage.
"Nothing could be more delightful. ..." See in text (Chapter III)
This section is an example of “free indirect discourse,” which blends third and first-person points of view so the narrative is more colloquial than usual. Third-person point of view is told by an outside narrator, so it’s more objective but offers limited access to characters’ thoughts and feelings. First-person point of view is narrated by a single character, so it’s more exclusive (we have access to thoughts that a third-person narrator likely can’t give us) but not nearly as objective. Free indirect discourse gives us the best of both worlds: exclusive access to characters’ thoughts while still remaining objective.
"ten thousand a year..." See in text (Chapter III)
“Ten thousand a year” amounts to approximately $1,000,000 per year in today’s (US) dollars. Mr. Darcy is among the 400 wealthiest families in England (at the time) and is the wealthiest man at the assembly.
"the Boulanger..." See in text (Chapter III)
According to the *Austen Papers, 1704-1856 *(1942), the Boulanger may have been called the *Baker's Wife *in England.
"liberty of a manor..." See in text (Chapter IV)
“Liberty of manor” refers to the right to shoot game (wildlife), predominantly pheasants. Shooting and hunting were very popular among the middle and upper classes, and hunting season began around August 12 (the end of the London social season). Mr. Bingley has apparently come to Netherfield to hunt.
"respectable family..." See in text (Chapter IV)
In Austen’s time, social status was a common preoccupation of the middle class. Aristocrats like Mr. Darcy were far more secure in their positions as the dominant leaders of society; people like the Bingleys, however, often tried to prove their superiority by putting others down. Original readers of Pride and Prejudice would have likely found Austen’s portrayal of the snobby middle class to be quite humorous.
"a fortune of twenty thousand pounds;..." See in text (Chapter IV)
Twenty thousand pounds breaks down to about 800–1,000 pounds a year, which is roughly $35,000–45,000 in today’s dollars. Compared to the Bennet sisters’ paltry 1,000 pounds (in a lump sum), the Bingley sisters are far more likely to find wealthy husbands.
"private seminaries..." See in text (Chapter IV)
A seminary is a place of education (college, university, or some other school) for people destined for a particular vocation. In Austen’s world, private seminaries were institutions for female education. Women did not usually receive a formal education; instead, they accrued “accomplishments” like painting,dancing, and piano-playing. The Bingley sisters received a formal education, however, and it appears to have made them arrogant and superficial. Austen clearly questions whether formal female education is worthwhile.
"Do you often dance at St. James'?..." See in text (Chapter VI)
St. James’s Court was the royal court of the Sovereign of England (the king or queen). At the time of Pride and Prejudice (~1790s), men and women were not allowed to dress fashionably if they wanted to dance at St. James’s Court. Queen Charlotte, who dictated the rules of courtly dress, was old-fashioned. Dancers wore what their parents and grandparents would have worn. For women, that meant outdated panniers (hoops worn under skirts) and ostrich feathers.
"If my vanity had taken a musical turn..." See in text (Chapter VI)
Playing the piano was one of several acceptable feminine accomplishments in Austen’s day. Women’s musical talents were meant to be mostly frivolous and entertaining as opposed to skillful or artistic. The modern, mass-produced pianoforte—which is what we are familiar with today—was a staple in the middle and upper-class home.
"Vingt-et-un better than Commerce..." See in text (Chapter VI)
Vingt-et-un (meaning 21 in French) and Commerce were popular card games in 19th-century England. Vingt-et-un is Blackjack, which involves drawing random cards in order to get as close to 21 as possible, and Commerce entails aggressive card-trading (and therefore more strategy) to obtain the best hand.
" has since dined in company with him four times...." See in text (Chapter VI)
In Austen’s time, young couples rarely had the opportunity to speak together in private. It would have been scandalous for Jane and Mr. Bingley to spend much time together without others present. They had to settle for getting to know each other in groups, which makes Jane’s “task” of subtly indicating her romantic interests all the more difficult.
"The visit was returned in due form...." See in text (Chapter VI)
Women often called on each other during Austen’s time, but never on men (at least alone). The Bingleys likely returned the Bennets’ visit out of politeness, not genuine regard or interest.
"You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half-hour..." See in text (Chapter VI)
Austen herself was an avid and accomplished dancer. Like Elizabeth, she had her preferred dance partners. Unlike Elizabeth, however, she was likely more diplomatic about avoiding men she didn't like.
"very unwillingly said so...." See in text (Chapter VII)
People in polite society usually visited one another between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Elizabeth feels obligated to leave once the clock strikes 3 p.m., but she wants to stay longer to look after Jane. Fortunately, the Bingley sisters invite her to stay for a few days.
"apothecary..." See in text (Chapter VII)
The apothecary, Mr. Jones, is like a local pharmacist who can perform basic surgery and give medical advice. Apothecaries were cheaper than physicians, so it is telling that the Bingleys hired Mr. Jones to care for Jane. They may not think she is worth the expense, but it is more likely that they don’t think her cold is serious.
"breakfast parlor..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Breakfast parlours were recent, fashionable additions to country houses at the time of Pride and Prejudice. In the country, breakfast was usually eaten early (9 a.m. or 10 a.m. at the latest). The Bingleys, however, eat their breakfast at 11 a.m. or 12p.m. This was common among the fashionable families in London because they usually stayed out very late at symphonies, balls, and operas. The Bingleys are dining so late that Elizabeth has had time to finish her own breakfast at Longbourn, have a discussion with her parents, and walk three miles to Netherfield.
"My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the officers...." See in text (Chapter VII)
Miss Bingley’s letter suggests that she and her sister only want Jane to visit because they will be bored by themselves. Women of leisure (in the middle and upper classes) were expected to stay mostly indoors and occupy themselves with frivolous tasks like embroidery or painting. Artistic pursuits were usually imitative: women would paint simple objects or imitate existing artwork by male painters.
"My Dear Friend:..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Pride and Prejudice was originally written in epistolary form. Epistolary form involves narration through letters between characters. For example, if Pride and Prejudice were still an epistolary novel, we might learn about the action in letters exchanged between Jane and Elizabeth.
"Clarke's library...." See in text (Chapter VII)
Clarke’s Library was a circulating library, very similar to libraries today. People would pay a subscription to borrow books, which were quite expensive at the time. Circulating libraries were very popular among the middle and upper-classes—they were as much a place to meet and gossip as they were to read. The officers standing around Clarke’s Library are probably there for social reasons, not to borrow books.
"five or six thousand a year..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Mrs. Bennet seems a little disconnected from reality. No colonel would make more than perhaps 3,000 pounds per year—more likely close to 2,000. Mr. Bingley, for comparison, receives 4,000 pounds per year. It would be have been very uncommon for a military man to earn more than a man like Mr. Bingley.
"ensign..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Patriotism was strong at the time of Pride and Prejudice, and the military was particularly popular. The military uniform was very fashionable because of its attractive cut and associations with heroism.
"the recent arrival of a militia regiment..." See in text (Chapter VII)
The militia were England’s reserve troops, and they trained only a few days per year. They were also mobile, moving from location to location to address fears of invasion. In Pride and Prejudice, the militia are posted in Meryton to defend England from a potential French invasion during or leading up to the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).
"four thousand pounds...." See in text (Chapter VII)
4,000 pounds, roughly $265,000 in today’s US dollars, breaks down to 160–200 pounds per year. In Austen’s time, a family could live comfortably on 300 pounds per year for each member of the family. Mrs. Bennet and her unmarried daughters, however, will only have a maximum of 200 pounds per year to support them after Mr. Bennet dies—they definitely won’t be living comfortably. Mrs. Bennet is afraid of being poor, so she’s obsessively trying to marry off her daughters.
"attorney at Meryton..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Mrs. Bennet comes from a middle-class family. Mr. Bennet is a member of the landed gentry, so he married beneath himself when he married Mrs. Bennet. The marriage, which would have been looked down upon by upper-class individuals, is an example of Mr. Bennet’s foolishness and refusal to take things seriously.
"entailed,..." See in text (Chapter VII)
An entail legally restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate. Longbourn has been left (entailed) to a male heir, so Mr. Bennet can’t leave it to his daughters. When he dies, all of the Bennet women will be poor.
"an estate of two thousand a year..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Mr. Bennet’s income of 2,000 pounds per year would have amounted to roughly $133,000–$300,000 in US dollars today. He could be living very comfortably if he didn’t have five daughters and poor money-management skills.
"extensive reading..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Mr. Darcy thinks that an accomplished woman must be well-read. Women were not generally encouraged to read in Austen’s time, and female education was hotly contested. Critics opposed to women’s reading argued that the minds of susceptible young ladies could be filled with improper and potentially dangerous ideas—especially if they read novels.
"paint tables, cover screens, and net purses...." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Painting tables, covering screens, and netting (finely knitting) purses are all particularly frivolous and unfulfilling feminine accomplishments. Upper-class ladies (who did not run the household like their mothers typically did) were often bored with these superficial tasks.
"accomplished..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Female accomplishments are often debated in Pride and Prejudice. Genteel young ladies were supposed to be charming and entertaining so they could attract a husband. However, their accomplishments were not particularly productive or stimulating. It was considered improper for a woman to play a masculine instrument like the violin or the cello. Ladies were not supposed to create in general: they used watercolours and pastels to copy pictures, but they did not usually paint or sculpt like male artists. Elizabeth, who enjoys reading and engaging in rigorous physical activities like walking for three miles, is not the typical accomplished woman.
"What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Books were very expensive in Austen’s time, so private libraries suggested great wealth. Mr. Darcy’s old library—”the work of many generations’”—underscores how old and noble his family is. He emphasizes, intentionally or not, the difference in status between the Darcys and the Bingleys.
"loo..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Loo was a popular card game in Austen’s time. It involved gambling with money, which is what the Bingleys and Hursts and Mr. Darcy are doing. Elizabeth does not want to participate, either because she disapproves or gambling or simply does not have the money to join in.
"Cheapside...." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Cheapside is a street in London and, both today and in Austen’s time, the financial center of the city. It was considered unfashionable to live anywhere near Cheapside because of its association with trade. The Bingley sisters’ snobbery is hypocritical because their family’s wealth originated in trade.
"AT FIVE O'CLOCK the two ladies retired to dress, and at half past six Elizabeth was summoned to dinner...." See in text (Chapter VIII)
“Dinner” here is actually lunch. The Bingleys have their dinner fashionably late, as they did in London. Instead of eating at 1 p.m., for example, they are eating at 6:30 p.m. Meals were eaten later during the London Social Season because people stayed out until two or three in the morning.
"Such a countenance, such manners, and so extremely accomplished for her age. Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite.”..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
The pianoforte was a fashionable and controversial instrument during the time of Pride and Prejudice. Most middle- and upper-class families owned pianofortes, which were heavily advertised by famous pianists (also called virtuosos). Wealthy people would attend concerts and, later on, purchase the same piano that the pianist played. People were uncomfortable with how machine-like the pianoforte became, however; it was outfitted, for example, with iron in order to support an expanded keyboard. Major critics of the pianoforte referred to it as the “musical steam engine” and argued that modern pianists were more like mechanics or technicians instead of musicians.
"Such a countenance, such manners, and so extremely accomplished for her age. Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Accomplished ladies often learned popular music on the piano so they could reproduce the same performances that their families attended during the London Season. Music for the piano became increasingly technical and complicated as the expanded, iron-clad pianoforte gained in popularity. Miss Darcy’s playing is probably quite impressive.
"my daughters are brought up differently...." See in text (Chapter IX)
Genteel young ladies would not be raised to cook and clean like housemaids; instead, they would be trained to oversee households and engage in ladylike activities like dancing and playing the piano. Mrs. Bennet strongly (and tactlessly) implies that the Lucases are inferior to the Bennets because the Lucas girls have to do things like bake mince pies. The Bennets probably can’t afford to hire a cook, but Mrs. Bennet is so concerned with appearances that she’s willing to stretch their budget.
"mend pens..." See in text (Chapter X)
The ends of quill pens often had to be re-cut because they split or broke during writing. Split or broken pens caused ink to spill instead of flow evenly.
" loo-table..." See in text (Chapter X)
A loo-table was an 18th- and 19th-century table used for playing loo, a popular card game in Austen's time. The loo-table was usually round or oval and broke down easily for storage. It was not usually a permanent piece of furniture in the middle- and upper-class parlor.
"piquet..." See in text (Chapter X)
Piquet is a trick-taking game for two players that originated in the 16th-century. A trick-taking game is a card or tile game centering on a series of finite rounds (called tricks). Each trick or round has a winner, who is determined at the end of that round.
"hug..." See in text (Chapter XI)
In Austen's day, to "hug" oneself simply means to congratulate oneself for being superior: getting the best of someone, winning an argument—winning in general.
"white soup..." See in text (Chapter XI)
White Soup was typically served at balls. It consisted of meat stock (often veal), egg yolks, ground almonds and cream, and negus (hot sweetened wine with water).
"nothing to do..." See in text (Chapter XI)
All of the pettiest, most arrogant members of the party are notably lazy in this passage. Laziness was a common complaint about the upper classes in Austen's time; they were accused of being entitled, unproductive members of society. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst in particular represent this extreme laziness.
"And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.” “And yours,” he replied, with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Jane Austen documented her ideas about moral failings in her personal writing. She disapproved of thinking highly of oneself while feeling disdain for others, as the Bingley sisters undoubtedly do.
"thorough-bass..." See in text (Chapter XII)
A thorough-bass is a bass part extending throughout a piece of concerted music. Figures are written beneath the music to indicate the kind of harmony to be played with it. It is usually accompanied by a cello or viola.
"Lydia..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Lydia Bennet's name and character may have been based on Richard Sheridan's play, The Rivals (1775). In the play, Lydia Languish uses Fordyce's Sermons to distract her guardian's attentions from the novels her maid brought her from a circulating library—and shows her disdain for the Sermons by using its pages as curling papers. Lydia Languish also has a penchant for soldiers, as Lydia Bennet does.
"novels..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Novels were very popular at the time, but they were looked down upon as frivolous or low literature. Conservative critics also expressed concern about novels encouraging immoral behavior in young women.
"circulating library..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Books from circulating libraries usually had labels to mark them as the library's property. Middle-class families often borrowed from circulating libraries because books were prohibitively expensive; it therefore makes sense that the financially-strained Bennets borrow books. Circulating libraries often carried sensational or frivolous novels (often marketed toward women), too; Mr. Collins likely looks down upon this book because it is considered to be low literature.
"presented..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Upper-class young ladies were presented at court when they came of age (usually at age 17 or 18). A young debutante could only be presented by a lady who had been presented in her youth; this ensured exclusivity. Being presented at court indicated a young woman's readiness for marriage.
"phaeton and ponies...." See in text (Chapter XIV)
A phaeton was an open, four-wheeled carriage drawn by two horses. Phaetons were considered highly fashionable and even sporty because, on high-mounted phaetons, it was easy to spur horses to run very quickly. Young men often drove recklessly, sometimes even to scare their female passengers, and accidents were not entirely uncommon.
"pool of quadrille..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Quadrille, or the "pool of quadrille" Mr. Collins refers to, was a complex card game for four players. It originated in France in the 18th century as an adaptation of the popular three-player game Hombre (or Ombre, the English version). Though a favorite at court in the 18th century, Quadrille lost its popularity by the middle of the 19th century.
"supper..." See in text (Chapter XV)
Supper was the last and lightest meal of the day, usually served around 10 p.m. The Bingleys would likely have supper around midnight, as fashionable people often did in London.
"best living..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
Mr. Darcy's father left his vicarage and its lands to Mr. Wickham. As a priest, Mr. Wickham could gain income from both the land and the tithes from his congregation.
"indifferent imitations of china..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
Painting imitations of objects (such as fruit or china or famous artwork) was a common accomplishment for young ladies during the time of Pride and Prejudice. Women were generally not encouraged to paint from imagination; it was only acceptable for male painters to do such things.
"dance with him again..." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
Dancing multiple times with a partner signified preference, so Elizabeth doesn't want to dance with Mr. Collins a second time. She cannot easily refuse him, however, because rejecting a dance partner was considered highly rude.
"out of her power to dance with others...." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
It was considered highly offensive for a woman to refuse to dance with a specific partner unless she was ill, tired, or otherwise indisposed. Therefore, Elizabeth cannot keep dancing if she refuses to dance with Mr. Collins.
"four-percents..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
The "four-percents" are government bonds that yield 4% per year in interest. Though people in late 18th- and early 19th-century England were more forward about their earnings (and inheritance) than we might be accustomed to today, it is incredibly rude of Mr. Collins to reduce Elizabeth's worth down to her modest annual earnings—especially in the middle of a proposal.
"entail away an estate from one's own daughters..." See in text (Chapter XXIII)
Mrs. Bennet is incorrect; Longbourn was probably entailed long before Mr. Bennet's lifetime. The Bennets have no sons, so the estate cannot be inherited by any of the Bennets' children—Mr. Bennet, therefore, did not "entail away an estate" from his daughters.
"pay his respects..." See in text (Chapter XXIV)
In Austen's day (and during the time during which Pride and Prejudice was set), decorum dictated that one must always take leave of one's friends before departing on a long journey—or moving away permanently. The fact that Mr. Bingley didn't "pay his respects" before leaving Netherfield strongly suggests that he did not intend to leave, and that he was pressured to stay in London upon his arrival.
"preparations for the reception of his bride..." See in text (Chapter XXV)
During the time in which Pride and Prejudice was set, a man expecting to get married customarily made his house ready "for the reception of his bride." This could include making repairs and buying furniture.
"Grosvenor Street...." See in text (Chapter XXVI)
Grosvenor Street is in the fashionable Mayfair area of London. Many of the most powerful and wealthy families of London lived on Grosvenor Street, so it makes sense for the Bingleys to stay there, especially if they aspire to the upper class.
"Their first subject was her sister;..." See in text (Chapter XXVII)
Talking during a play was common during the time in which Pride and Prejudice was set. Actors often had to shout to be heard over the murmuring of the audience. The theatre was just as much a place to be seen and observe others in attendance as it was a place to watch a play.
"almost promised to answer her letter...." See in text (Chapter XXVII)
During the time of Pride and Prejudice, writing letters was a crucial part of maintaining social and business connections. Mr. Bennet's frequent neglect of letter-writing suggests a strong detachment from his familial responsibilities, especially considering he is the head of the household.
"You ought all to have learned...." See in text (Chapter XXIX)
Lady Catherine is astounded by the Bennet daughters' lack of a proper female education. An accomplished young lady of good breeding would have been taught to draw, paint (watercolors), play the piano, and dance. The fact that not all of the Bennet sisters have acquired these accomplishments suggests neglect on the part of their parents—especially Mrs. Bennet.
"gentlemen cannot always be within doors..." See in text (Chapter XXXII)
Gentlemen here are allowed to become restless with indoor activities and find amusement outside. Women, however, were expected to remain indoors—no matter how bored or restless they became. The life of a lady of good breeding was often boring.
"madam..." See in text (Chapter XXXV)
Addressing a woman as "madam" is highly formal, respectful, and businesslike. Mr. Darcy uses this address to emphasize his intentions; that is, that he intends to defend his actions, not to renew "'those sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you.'" Mr. Darcy is likely still resentful of her harsh rejection, but he appears equally interested in clearing his name.
"Will you do me the honor of reading that letter..." See in text (Chapter XXXV)
During the time in which Pride and Prejudice was set, it was highly improper for an unmarried woman to correspond with a man she was not engaged or married to (unless they were related, of course). Mr. Darcy respectfully spares Elizabeth from potential scrutiny when he delivers his letter in person instead of sending it through the post.
"“Oh! Your uncle! He keeps a man-servant, does he?..." See in text (Chapter XXXVII)
Lady Catherine snobbishly assumes that Mr. Gardiner, though of solid middle-class status, cannot afford a male servant—for male servants were more expensive than female servants.
"Brighton..." See in text (Chapter XXXIX)
Brighton was a popular (and fashionable) seaside resort in the city of Brighton, which is in East Sussex. Though lauded for its health benefits, Brighton was associated with debauchery and other indulgent, immoral behaviors. The encampment of troops near Brighton (as well as the development of characters like Mr. Wickham) suggests concern about the presence of the British military in English civil society.
"On applying to see the place..." See in text (Chapter XLIII)
Visiting country estates like Pemberley was a common pastime in late 18th-century England—there were even tour guides. Large country estates were designed for show; touring an estate gave visitors a chance not only to marvel at the possessions of the wealthy, but also to take note of the latest fashion in architecture, furniture, etc.
"finest fruits..." See in text (Chapter XLV)
Fruit was not commonly available to most people in 18th-century England; instead, it was primarily enjoyed by members of the upper class—such as the Darcys and the Bingleys.
"Gretna Green,..." See in text (Chapter XLVI)
Gretna Green, a village in Scotland, was a popular place for elopements during the time of Pride and Prejudice. Though marriages in Scotland were not considered valid in England, many young people eloped there because they could wed without parental consent.
"gone off to Scotland..." See in text (Chapter XLVI)
During the time in which Pride and Prejudice was set, marriages that took place in Scotland were not legally valid. According to the Marriage Act of 1753, or "An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage," marriages must be performed in a church after the publication of banns (an notice of the intended marriage that was announced in church on three successive Sundays) or after the couple acquired a license. Licenses had to be approved by parents for anyone under the age of 21. Banns did not require parental consent, but the marriage couldn’t happen if parents objected.
"no brothers to step forward..." See in text (Chapter XLVII)
The brother of a jilted young lady would traditionally "step forward" to force (or try to) the guilty bridegroom to marry her. Lydia, however, has only sisters—and a father who isn't inclined to take matters seriously.
"you must go lower,..." See in text (Chapter LI)
During the time of Pride and Prejudice, the eldest daughter always had the privilege of sitting next to her father, who was always seated at the head of the table. If a younger daughter married, however, the eldest daughter must relinquish her seat. Therefore, Lydia insists that she sit in Jane's usual spot because she's married—however shamefully.
"coveys..." See in text (Chapter LIII)
A "covey" is a small flock of birds, usually partridges or quail. Mrs. Bennet urges Mr. Bingley to visit often, assuring him that Mr. Bennet would likely be happy to let him shoot the best families of birds.
"Scarborough..." See in text (Chapter LIV)
Scarborough is a large borough in Yorkshire. It is seated atop a steep rock that is nearly inaccessible on every side. There is a little well of fresh water at the top of this rock, and people often visited to sea-bathe (Scarborough was also called "Scarborough Spa").
"sportsmen..." See in text (Chapter LIV)
Sport hunting in 18th-century England was a predominantly upper-class, gentlemanly pastime. Society's finest would retire to the countryside (usually after the fashionable London Season ended) to shoot birds recreationally, as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley have done upon their return to Netherfield Park.