In the Bennett family's household in the village of Longbourn, a heated discussion is taking place about the arrival of Mr Bingley, a wealthy bachelor who is renting the property at nearby Netherfield Park. Mrs Bennet wants him to marry one of her five daughters and urges her husband to pay Bingley a visit as soon as he arrives. Mr Bennet jokes about his wife’s desperation and teases her by saying he sees no need to visit Bingley. He mentions that Elizabeth is his favourite daughter because she is more intelligent than the others, but Mrs Bennett mostly seems focused on her children's looks.
Without telling his family, Mr Bennet pays a visit to Bingley. Later, he has the satisfaction of informing his wife about the visit and continues to tease her and his daughters.
Mr Bennet refuses to give his family any details about Mr Bingley, so Mrs Bennet gains some information from their neighbour, Lady Lucas. Mr Bingley also comes to see Mr Bennet, but the women in the family are not present. Bingley is invited for dinner, but he refuses as he needs to pick up friends from London to attend the upcoming ball in Meryton, the local town.
At the ball, the sisters and Mrs Bennet finally meet Bingley as well as his two sisters and his friend Mr Darcy. The Bennet sisters find Darcy arrogant because he refuses to dance. When Bingley suggests that Darcy dance with Elizabeth, Darcy refuses and makes an offensive remark about her. Elizabeth overhears him and is outraged by his attitude, but is able to laugh about it with her friends afterwards.
Everyone likes Bingley, all the more when he ends up dancing most of the night with Jane Bennet. At home, Mrs Bennet excitedly tries to describe the ball to Mr Bennet, who quickly gets irritated by her descriptions of such trivia.
In confidence, Jane admits to Elizabeth that she likes Bingley. Elizabeth approves, but warns her against being too naïve and seeing only the good in people. Elizabeth also talks about how snobbish the Bingley sisters are, but Jane prefers to see them as charming.
The narrator reveals that Bingley is very wealthy and a long-time friend of Darcy. However, while Bingley is open and sociable, Darcy is more reserved. Darcy disliked the ball and even argues that Jane smiled too much. However, Bingley’s sisters seem to approve of Jane.
We are introduced to the Lucas family, who live near Longbourn. Sir William Lucas made his money in trade but is very proud that he has since been knighted. Sir William and Lady Lucas’ eldest daughter Charlotte is Elizabeth’s closest friend.
Lady Lucas and her daughter visit the Bennet women the day after the ball and talk about the evening. They all think that Bingley is attracted to Jane ...