Causing immediate excitement among Mrs. Bennet and her five daughters, Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young gentleman, has rented a nearby country estate, Netherfield. He arrives in town accompanied by his fashionable sister and his good friend, Mr. Darcy. While Bingley is well-received in the community, Darcy begins his acquaintance with smug condescension and proud distaste for all the “country” people. Bingley and Jane Bennet begin to grow close despite Mrs. Bennet’s embarrassing interference and the opposition of Bingley’s sister, who considers Jane socially inferior. Elizabeth is stung by Darcy’s haughty rejection of her at a local dance and decides to match his coldness with her own wit.
Elizabeth begins a friendship with Mr. Wickham, a militia officer who has a history with Darcy. Wickham claims that Darcy seriously mistreated him. Elizabeth immediately seizes upon this information as another reason to hate Darcy. Ironically, but unbeknownst to her, Darcy finds himself gradually drawn to Elizabeth.
Just as Bingley appears to be on the point of proposing marriage to Jane, he moves away from Netherfield, leaving Jane confused and upset. Elizabeth is convinced that Bingley’s sister has conspired with Darcy to separate Jane and Bingley.
Mr. Collins, a distant relative of the Bennets, makes an unexpected visit. He is a recently ordained clergyman employed by the wealthy Lady Catherine de Bourgh. On his way to visit his patron, Collins makes a visit, intending to find a wife from among the Bennet sisters. At first, he pursues Jane; however, when Mrs. Bennet mentions she is involved with Mr. Bingley, he turns to Elizabeth. He soon proposes marriage to Elizabeth, who refuses him, much to her mother’s distress. Collins quickly recovers and proposes to Elizabeth’s close friend, Charlotte Lucas, who immediately accepts him. Their marriage takes place soon after.
In the spring, Elizabeth joins Charlotte and Mr. Collins at his parish in Kent. The parish is adjacent to Rosings Park, the grand manor of Mr. Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, where Elizabeth is frequently invited. While calling on Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy encounters Elizabeth. She discovers from Darcy’s cousin that it was he who separated Bingley and Jane, as she suspected. Soon after, Darcy admits his love of Elizabeth and proposes to her. Elizabeth refuses him. When he asks why she should refuse him, she confronts him with his sabotage of Bingley’s relationship with Jane and his history with Wickham. Darcy responds with a long letter justifying his actions.
Thus, everything is set up to bring to conclusion the various love affairs—happily, or perhaps unhappily. Whatever the various resolutions, Darcy, Bingley, Jane, Elizabeth, as well as others, will need to overcome their pride and prejudices if they are to find love in the midst of these uncertain and complex relationships.