The Bennets’ neighbors are Sir William Lucas, his wife, and their children. The eldest of these children, Charlotte, is Elizabeth’s closest friend. The morning after the ball, the women of the two families discuss the evening. They decide that while Bingley danced with Charlotte first, he considered Jane to be the prettiest of the local girls. The discussion then turns to Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth states that she will never dance with him; everyone agrees that Darcy, despite his family and fortune, is too proud to be likable.
Bingley’s sisters exchange visits with the Bennets and attempt to befriend Elizabeth and Jane. Meanwhile, Bingley continues to pay attention to Jane, and Elizabeth decides that her sister is “in a way to be very much in love” with him but is concealing it very well. She discusses this with Charlotte Lucas, who comments that if Jane conceals it too well, Bingley may lose interest. Elizabeth says it is better for a young woman to be patient until she is sure of her feelings; Charlotte disagrees, saying that it is best not to know too much about the faults of one’s future husband.
Darcy finds himself attracted to Elizabeth. He begins listening to her conversations at parties, much to her surprise. At one party at the Lucas house, Sir William attempts to persuade Elizabeth and Darcy to dance together, but Elizabeth refuses. Shortly afterward, Darcy tells Bingley’s unmarried sister that “Miss Elizabeth Bennet” is now the object of his admiration.
The reader learns that Mr. Bennet’s property is entailed, meaning that it must pass to a man after Mr. Bennet’s death and cannot be inherited by any of his daughters. His two youngest children, Catherine (nicknamed Kitty) and Lydia, entertain themselves by beginning a series of visits to their mother’s sister, Mrs. Phillips, in the town of Meryton, and gossiping about the militia stationed there.
One night, while the Bennets are discussing the soldiers over dinner, a note arrives inviting Jane to Netherfield Park for a day. Mrs. Bennet conspires to send Jane by horse rather than coach, knowing that it will rain and that Jane will consequently have to spend the night at Mr. Bingley’s house. Unfortunately, their plan works out too well: Jane is soaked, falls ill, and is forced to remain at Netherfield as an invalid. Elizabeth goes to visit her, hiking over on foot. When she arrives with soaked and dirty stockings she causes quite a stir and is certain that the Bingleys hold her in contempt for her soiled clothes. Jane insists that her sister spend the night, and the Bingleys consent.
That night, while Elizabeth visits Jane, the Bingley sisters poke fun at the Bennets. Darcy and Mr. Bingley defend them, though Darcy concedes, first, that he would not want his sister ever to go out on such a walking expedition and, second, that the Bennets’ lack of wealth and family make them poor marriage prospects. When Elizabeth returns to the room, the discussion turns to Darcy’s library at his ancestral home of Pemberley and then to Darcy’s opinions on what constitutes an “accomplished woman.” After he and Bingley list the attributes that such a woman would possess, Elizabeth declares that she “never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united,” implying that Darcy is far too demanding.