Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where that was the case, and with equal sincerity could add, that she firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic comforts. She was not sorry, however, to have the recital of them interrupted by the entrance of the lady from whom they sprung. Poor Charlotte! it was melancholy to leave her to such society! But she had chosen it with her eyes open; and though evidently regretting that her visitors were to go, she did not seem to ask for compassion. Her home and her housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, had not yet lost their charms.

This paragraph belongs to chapter 38. I somehow could not manage to understand what the bold sentence actually means. Does that exemplify her detest towards Lady Catherine de Bourgh? Or that just shows Elizabeth's concern over her friend any one confirm that?

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    I think you might be being confused by the use of the word "lady". Although "Lady" with a capital "L" is an honorific title the word "lady" can be, and frequently is, applied to women of any social standing. In Austen's time it was not usually applied to working class women but middle class women were almost always referred to as "ladies". Calling a middle class lady a "woman" in public would have been seen as quite rude. – BoldBen Sep 3 '20 at 9:36
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    Hi and welcome to English Language and Usage Stack Exchange. I have noticed that this question has been cross-posted to Literature Stack Exchange. This is usually not appreciated on Stack Exchange. – Tsundoku Sep 3 '20 at 11:44
  • @Tsundoku actually I posted this question in here in the first place then I find there is an another SE site which is more appropriate like others said so flagged the post for the moderator's attention but as they are not likely doing anything so I posted there. – rudra sarkar Sep 3 '20 at 12:42
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    Well, migration flags can only be handled by moderators, and moderators need some time to respond to flags; it is just one of several of their tasks. – Tsundoku Sep 3 '20 at 12:45
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    The question calls for a clarification of a particular passage in a work of literature, which is unlikely provide any general insight into English language and usage. – jsw29 Sep 6 '20 at 21:25

Mr Collins, her cousin, is described in the book as being a rather objectionable character by Elizabeth, particularly his fawning and obsequious manner. Mr Collins had at this point married Charlotte, and was living in their house near Rosings.

In this particular chapter, Mr Collins is talking about how happy he is, that he lives near Lady Catherine, has Charlotte as a wife, and has the life he has.

Elizabeth is clearly uncomfortable with him saying all this -

Words were insufficient for the elevation of his feelings; and he was obliged to walk about the room, while Elizabeth tried to unite civility and truth in a few short sentences.

But he doesn't take the hint and carries on:

Only let me assure you, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that I can from my heart most cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage. My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in everything a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us. We seem to have been designed for each other.

Rather awkward to hear from a man about his wife, particularly one that proposed to Elizabeth previously!

The quote you highlight means that Mr Collins was in the middle of talking about his wife, when his wife walked in so he had to stop. Elizabeth had wanted him to stop but hadn't been able to tell him politely, so she was glad that finally he had stopped.

She was not sorry, however, to have the recital [by Mr Collins] of them [his 'home comforts'] interrupted by the entrance of the lady [Charlotte, his wife] from whom they sprung.

  • Thanks that explanation really helps as I'm not a native speaker and the structure of the sentence is quite strange to me(like "she was not sorry, however" , using " from whom they sprung" instead "to whom they sprung". I was struggling to find its meaning. and I may also post some of the ambiguous lines I found in P&P and very much wish to hear from you. I find P&P is a tough read btw – rudra sarkar Sep 3 '20 at 12:56
  • Good on you for trying! It's quite old-fashioned English, and I think some native speakers would struggle with parts of it. – marcellothearcane Sep 3 '20 at 13:02

I might have read Pride and Prejudice - and I think I have; if I have, it's so long ago that I don't recall it and so I'm going simply by the extract that you're concerned with.

It looks as though Elizabeth 'rejoiced' in her 'domestic' ease and 'comforts' (presumably earlier in the narrative she lacked this domestic ease) but now yearned for the excitement and adventure that was represented to her by the 'entrance of the lady from whom they sprung' - that is real and living society - and this is why she 'evidently regretted that her visitors were to go'.

What she was unhappy with was the quietness of her life in her domestic sphere, the 'house-keeping', the 'parish' and the 'poultry' (one can almost imagine the author is not too happy about this either in her sympathy for Elizabeth's situation) and this is why the author says 'it was melancholy to leave her in such society.'

The word 'recital' in the bolded text sounds a little odd to contemporary ears in this context. But it merely refers to how she could 'recite' to someone her creature comforts. That is to narrate or to say. It's simply a turn of phrase. Like the one I just used, 'creature comforts' and which doesn't refer to any actual creature.


The extract, by the way, is not in Chapter 38. It's also very strange the way that the extract jumps from Elizabeth in the first part of the text to Charlotte in the second part. Jane Austen is too careful a writer, in my opinion to make such a careless 'mistake' ...

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    Elizabeth believes in his (Mr. Collins) domestic comforts, not her own. She is a visitor in his and Charlotte's home. – Kate Bunting Sep 3 '20 at 8:01
  • You viewed it from a different angle. Thanks! – rudra sarkar Sep 3 '20 at 13:15

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