Less than three days after Mr Collins' proposal to her, Elizabeth is shocked to discover that he has been accepted by her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth cannot believe Charlotte can demean herself so, but her friend tells her that she cannot afford to be choosy and Mr Collins is a good catch. The marriage is to be soon, but Charlotte begs her to visit them at Hunsford Parsonage in March.
- At the end of the previous episode Mr. Collins had proposed to Lizzie, and she had rejected him, and he had left Longbourn to stay with the Lucas family.
Now news comes to Longbourn that Mr. Collins, fresh from his rejection, has proposed to Charlotte Lucas, and that she has accepted. Lizzy is very disappointed that her very good friend has accepted such a shallow man. When she visits Charlotte, Charlotte explains that a comfortable living is as important to her as love, and that she believes that she will have a satisfactory life with Mr. Collins. Back at home, Lizzy expresses to Jane how upset she is that Charlotte is making such a choice.
A letter arrives for Jane from Netherfield, written by Caroline Bingley, saying that the entire party--Charles Bingley, his sisters Caroline and Louisa, and Louisa's husband Mr. Hurst, are leaving Netherfield for London, permanently. The reason she gives is the demands of business, but she also says that everyone looks forward to Bingley marrying Darcy's sister Georgiana. Jane assumes the worst--that Bingley does not care for her. Lizzy tries to persuade her that this is a plot by Caroline to take her brother away from Jane to procure a marriage that she, Caroline, would prefer. Lizzy tries to reassure Jane that Bingley is in love with her, and that Caroline is simply plotting to take him away. She predicts that Bingley will return within two weeks.
Lizzy, Kitty, and Lydia go into Meryton, where they happen upon the military officers: Wickham, Denny, and Carter. The latter two are particular friends of Kitty and Lydia. Lizzy talks with Wickham, asking about his absence from the Netherfield ball. He explains that he stayed away because the friction between him and Darcy might have created a scene. Lizzy and Wickham are quite friendly at this point. She invites him, along with Denny and Carter, to have dinner at Longbourn to and meet her parents.
Another letter arrives from Caroline. Bingley is not coming back.
Lizzy comes up with a plan that ought to save Jane's relationship with Charles Bingley: Jane could go into London for a few months, staying with the Gardiners, who are their Aunt and Uncle. The idea is that, when it becomes known that Jane is in town, Bingley will surely call on her.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner (Tim Wylton, Joanna David) arrive for Christmas, and they all go to a party at the Lucas's, with singing, dancing, and gossip. Wickham, Denny, and Carter are there. Charlotte Lucas will be going away to Kent soon, to begin her married life with Mr. Collins. She asks Lizzy to come and visit her in the spring.
Wickham spends some time with Lizzy, but he also spends some time with a certain Mary King, who they hear has just inherited £10000.
After the Christmas party, the Gardiners take Jane back to London with them. It then comes out that Wickham has stopped being interested in Lizzy, and is pursuing Mary King. Some of the Bennets suspect that this is because of her wealth.
In London, Jane visited Caroline, and was treated rather coldly. Caroline said she would come and visit Jane at the Gardiner's house. Three weeks passed, and Caroline finally showed up. She is very dismissive toward Jane, and tells her that Bingley in fact knows about Jane's presence, and that he is pursuing Darcy's sister Georgiana. This will turn out to be a lie. Jane concludes that Bingley no longer cares for her.
Lizzy, along with Charlotte's sister Maria and her father Mr. Lucas, travel down to Hunsford Parsonage, in Kent, Charlotte's new home. Mr. Collins carries on as usual, in his extremely exaggerated way, about the wonderful things Lady Catherine de Bourge does for them, how incredibly grand Lady Catherine's nearby estate of Rosings is, and how fortunate he is to have the condescension and patronage of such an exalted and illustrious person.
Lizzy and Charlotte spend some time talking in private, and Charlotte says that she and William do not see very much of each other, which suits her just fine. In fact, she encourages William's activities that do not include her.
There is a great commotion, in keeping with William Collins's exaggerated awe of all things de Bourge, when Lady Catherine's carriage comes by, but carrying only Anne de Bourge (Nadia Chambers), Catherine's daughter. Lizzy is pleased to see how sickly she appears, since she is presumably the person that Darcy will marry.
The Hunsford party gets invited to have dinner at Rosings, where they meet the exalted Lady Catherine (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) herself. She is utterly imperious, dominating everyone, and Mr. Collins is totally subservient and obsequious toward her. Whenever she interrupts him, which is frequently, he instantly stops speaking and puts his hand up to his mouth.
Mr. Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam (Anthony Calf) come to Hunsford. Fitzwilliam engages in lively conversation with Lizzy, explaining that he has heard much about her. Mr. Darcy, as is his usual practice, sits off by himself, saying nothing. At one point Lizzy notices that Darcy seems to be staring at her, and mentions this. Darcy comes over to her and tries to make conversation, but it is awkward.
Later, while Lizzy is out walking, Darcy rides over to her on his horse, says absolutely nothing, and rides away.
Back at the house, Lizzy is playing the piano for Fitzwilliam. Darcy comes over, and there are some sharp words. Lizzy tells Fitzwilliam that Darcy's behavior at the dance had been quite anti-social. Darcy explains that he does not have the facility of conversing with strangers. Lizzy tells him that he should practice that skill, just as one practices the piano. Darcy appears to be hurt by this encounter.
The next morning, Darcy comes to visit with Lizzy in her room. He attempts to make small conversation. He is not very good at it, but he is practicing. He leaves.
On her next outdoor walk, Fitzwilliam joins her. He mentions that Darcy managed to keep Charles Bingley from entering into an imprudent marriage with someone. Lizzy knows that this refers to Jane; Fitzwilliam does not. Lizzy suddenly ends the walk and heads home, complaining of a headache.
The next day, Darcy calls on her again in her room. He is quite tongue-tied; it takes him a while to build up his courage. He proposes to her. It does not go at all well. He begins by explaining that his superior social status means that such a declaration goes against the judgment of all his family and even himself. She explodes with anger, explaining that she could not possibly accept the man that took Bingley away from her sister Jane. She also brings up his treatment of Wickham, reducing him to poverty. Darcy does not express any regret for either of these actions. Lizzy explains that Darcy's behavior, from the moment she met him, impressed her with his "arrogance, conceit, and disdain for the feelings of others." "I had not known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world that I could ever marry." She even says that the nature of his proposal was so insulting that she felt no guilt about being rude in return: "The mode of your declaration merely spared me the concern I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner." Darcy leaves.