The Bennet household becomes thoroughly intrigued by the wealthy Charles Bingley. When Mr. Bennet reveals to Mrs. Bennet and his daughters that he has made their new neighbor’s acquaintance, they are overjoyed. Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, his brother-in-law, and a friend named Darcy attend a ball that the Bennet sisters also attend with their mother. The eldest daughter, Jane, dances with Bingley, but when Bingley suggests that Darcy dance with Elizabeth, Darcy refuses.
While Bingley’s sisters exchange visits with the Bennets in the hopes of befriending Elizabeth and Jane, Bingley continues to dote on Jane. Darcy has taken a liking to Elizabeth. 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. One night, a note arrives inviting Jane to Netherfield Park for a day, but when Jane arrives, she falls ill and is forced to remain at Netherfield. When Elizabeth goes to visit her, Jane insists that she stay. That night, Elizabeth and Darcy discuss Darcy’s opinion on what constitutes an “accomplished woman,” after which Elizabeth declares that Darcy is too demanding.
After Mrs. Bennet arrives with Lydia and Catherine to visit Jane, Elizabeth observes Miss Bingley attempting to flirt with Darcy, and once again Elizabeth refuses to dance with him. Elizabeth asks her mother to send the carriage as she and Jane are ready to return home, but when Mrs. Bennet refuses, Elizabeth insists on borrowing Bingley’s carriage and she and Jane leave Netherfield Park, much to Darcy’s pleasure as Elizabeth has attracted him more than he would have liked.
Mr. Bennet says that Mr. Collins, the man who will inherit Mr. Bennet’s property, will be arriving soon. That evening, Mr. Collins reads from a book of sermons, which bores Lydia. Mr. Collins is in search of a wife and fixes his sights on Elizabeth. After meeting one of Lydia’s officer friends, Mr. Denny, and his friend, Mr. Wickham, the sisters pay a visit to Mrs. Bennet’s sister, who throws a dinner party. Wickham proves to be the center of attention and even garners Elizabeth’s trust, especially after he tells her that Darcy is Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s nephew, and Elizabeth, as a result, decides that Darcy deserves nothing but contempt.
During a ball, Elizabeth finds herself dancing with Darcy. The two share an awkward conversation about Wickham. The next day, Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins’ marriage proposal, which infuriates Mrs. Bennet and pleases Mr. Bennet. Elizabeth introduces Wickham to her parents. Jane receives a letter from Miss Bingley informing her that Bingley plans to marry Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. Suddenly, news arrives that Mr. Collins has proposed to Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas. As no word from Bingley arrives in the following days, both Jane and Elizabeth’s marriage prospects begin to appear limited.
The Gardiners invite Jane to accompany them back to London, hoping that a change in scenery might raise Jane’s spirits. Mr. Collins returns for his wedding, and Elizabeth reluctantly promises to visit Charlotte afterward. Meanwhile, Jane sends a letter from London recounting how Miss Bingley was cold to her, and Jane suggests that Bingley’s sister views her as an obstacle to her brother’s marrying Georgiana. When Mrs. Gardiner writes to Elizabeth to ask about Wickham, Elizabeth replies that he has shifted his attention to Miss King, a girl who has just inherited a large fortune, convincing Elizabeth that he is only marrying for money.
Lady Catherine grills Elizabeth about her upbringing, deciding that the Bennet sisters have been poorly raised. Darcy’s cousin Fitzwilliam pays special attention to Elizabeth. After hearing from Fitzwilliam that Darcy claimed to have recently saved a friend from an imprudent marriage, Elizabeth believes Darcy broke up Jane and Bingley. Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth and admits that he sabotaged Jane’s romance with Bingley, leading Elizabeth to declare that Darcy is too proud and selfish for her to ever marry him.
In a letter, Darcy explains his reason for breaking up Bingley and Jane, suggesting that Bingley would be burdened by the Bennet family’s lack of both wealth and propriety. Elizabeth is further stunned to learn that Wickham tried to elope with Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, in the hopes of obtaining her fortune. Elizabeth tells Jane the truth about Wickham, and Lydia is invited to spend the summer in Brighton by the wife of a Colonel Forster. While accompanying the Gardiners on a tour of the Derbyshire countryside, Elizabeth agrees to take a tour of Darcy’s manor, Pemberley, after she learns that he is not home.
As Elizabeth tours Pemberley, Darcy suddenly arrives, and Elizabeth assures Darcy that she came only because she thought he was away. Darcy says he has arrived to prepare his home for guests, asking Elizabeth if she would like to meet Georgiana. When Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner later visit Pemberley, Miss Bingley is there and she criticizes Elizabeth and the Bennets. Darcy defends Elizabeth and his attraction to her.
After Elizabeth learns of Lydia’s elopement with Wickham, Darcy appears and she tells him that there has been no word from the couple, causing Elizabeth to panic. When Elizabeth returns home, she learns that her father has gone to London to search for Lydia and Wickham. A letter from Mr. Gardiner arrives saying that they have been found and that Wickham will marry her if the Bennets guarantee him a small income. Mrs. Bennet is overjoyed that Lydia will be married, but Mr. Bennet refuses to allow Wickham and Lydia to visit or to provide Lydia with money to purchase clothes.
When Lydia and Wickham come to stay with the Bennets, Elizabeth is amazed to learn that Darcy was at Lydia’s wedding, and when Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner for details, Elizabeth learns that Darcy was the one who found Lydia and Wickham. Darcy was also the one who paid Wickham the money that facilitated the marriage. Bingley returns to Netherfield, accompanied by Darcy, and Elizabeth accepts that Darcy will not ask her to marry again after she refused him once. Bingley inevitably proposes to Jane.
Lady Catherine visits the Bennets and says that she heard a rumor that Darcy plans to marry Elizabeth, a notion Lady Catherine finds ridiculous given Elizabeth’s low station in life. Elizabeth asserts her independence, and a furious Lady Catherine leaves. Elizabeth tells Darcy that her feelings toward him have changed and expresses her willingness to marry him. After Darcy asks Mr. Bennet for his consent to marry Elizabeth, Mr. Bennet needs Elizabeth to convince him that she does indeed care for Darcy. After the weddings, Bingley moves to an estate near Pemberley, allowing the Bennet sisters to visit each other frequently, and Elizabeth becomes great friends with Georgiana, and even Lady Catherine eventually accepts the marriage.