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My dear! Mr Bennet! Wonderful news! Netherfield Park is let at last!
Yes, it is. For I have just had it from Mrs Long. And do you not want to know who has taken it?
You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.
Why, then, it is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England. A single man of large fortune, my dear! He came down on Monday in chaise and four to see the place. His name is Bingley, and he will be in possession by Michaelmas, and he has 5,000 a year! What a fine thing for our girls.
How so? Erm, how can it affect them?
Oh, Mr Bennet, how can you be so tiresome? You must know that I’m thinking of his marrying one of them.
For a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Yes, he must indeed! And who better than one of our five girls?
What a fine joke if he were to choose me!
So, that is his design in settling here, to marry one of our daughters?
Design?! Oh, how can you talk such nonsense? But you know, he may very likely fall in love with one of them.
Therefore, you must visit him directly he comes.
Visit him? Oh, no, no. I see no occasion for that.
Oh, Mr Bennet!
Go yourself with the girls. Or, still better, send them by themselves.
Aye, for you’re as handsome as any of them. Mr Bingley might like you best of the party.
Shall we be quite safe here, Mr Darcy, do you think?
Damn silly way to spend an evening.
Allow me the pleasure of welcoming you to our little assembly here.
Sir William. I am very glad to see you. There is nothing that I love better than a country dance.
Only two ladies, then, after all. Do you know who they are Charlotte?
Mr Bingley’s sisters, I understand. One of them is married to the gentleman there, Mr Hurst.
The taller gentleman?
No, the other.
Better and better.
Better pleased with themselves than what they see, I think.
Lizzy! Jane! Come here!
You see that gentleman there? Lady Lucas has just told me he’s Mr Bingley’s oldest friend. His name is Darcy, and he has a mighty fortune, and a great estate in Derbyshire. Bingley’s wealth is nothing to his. 10,000 a year at least! Don’t you think he’s the handsomest man you’ve ever seen, girls?
Hmm. I wonder if he’d be quite so handsome if he was not quite so rich?
Lizzy, oh, lord, they’re coming over. Smile, girls, smile!
Mrs Bennet, Mr Bingley has expressed a wish to become acquainted with you and your daughters.
Sir, that is very good of you.
This is Jane, my eldest. And Elizabeth, and Mary sits over there. And Kitty and Lydia, my youngest, you see they’re dancing. Do you like to dance yourself?
There is nothing I love better, Madam. And if Miss Bennet is not otherwise engaged, may I be so bold as to claim the next two dances.
I am not engaged, sir.
You do us great honour, sir. Thank the gentleman, Jane.
And you, sir? Are you fond of dancing, too?
Oh, I beg your pardon. Mrs Bennet, may I present my friend, Mr Darcy.
You are very welcome to Hertfordshire, I am sure, sir. And I hope you have come here eager to dance, as your friend has.
Thank you, Madam, I rarely dance.
Well, let this be one of the occasions, sir. For I wager you’ll not easily find such lively music, or such pretty partners.
Erm, pray, excuse me Ma’am.
Well! Did you ever meet such a proud, disagreeable man?
Mamma, he will hear you.
I don’t care if he does! And his friend disposed to be so agreeable, and everything charming. Who is he to think himself so far above his company?
Well, the very rich can afford to give offence wherever they go. We need not care for his good opinion.
Perhaps he’s not so very handsome, after all.
No, indeed, quite ill favoured. Certainly nothing at all to Mr Bingley.
Come, Darcy, I must have you dance. I must. I hate to see you standing about in this stupid manner. Come, you’d much better dance.
I certainly shall not. In an assembly such as this? It would be insupportable.
Your sisters are engaged at present. You know perfectly well it would be a punishment for me to stand up with any other woman in the room.
Good God, Darcy, I wouldn’t be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met so many pleasant girls in my life. And several of them uncommonly pretty, eh?
You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.
Darcy, she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld. Look, look…there’s one of her sisters. She’s very pretty, too. I daresay, very agreeable.
She is tolerable, I suppose, but she’s not handsome enough to tempt me.
Bingley, I’m in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. Go back to your partner, enjoy her smiles. You’re wasting your time to me.
I see that Mr Bingley continues his attentions to Jane, Lizzy.
I am very happy for her Charlotte.
She does seem very well pleased with him.
I think if he continues so, she is in a fair way to be very much in love with him.
And Mr Bingley, so you think he is in love?
Hmm, it is clear that he likes her very much.
Then she should leave him in no doubt of her heart. She should show more affection, even than she feels, not less, if she is to secure him.
Secure him? Charlotte.
Well, yes. She should secure him in as soon as may be.
Before she is sure of his character? Before she is even certain of her own regard for him?
But of course. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance, you know. There will always be vexation, and grief; and it is better to know in advance as little as possible of the defects of your marriage partner.
Is it not now?
You know it is not sound. You would never act like that yourself.
Well, it seems that Jane will not. So we must hope that Mr Bingley will. I think he gets little encouragement from his sisters.
Or his friend.
Mr Darcy looks at you a great deal, Lizzy.
I cannot think why. Unless he means to frighten me with his contempt. I wish he would not come into society. He only makes people uneasy.
What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr Darcy. Nothing like dancing, you know. One of the refinements of every polished society.
And every unpolished society.
Every savage can dance.
Oh, yes…yes, quite.
I think I should speak to my sister before she exposes us all to ridicule.
Capital, capital. Ah, Miss. Eliza. Why are you not dancing? Mr Darcy, allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I’m sure, when so much beauty is before you.
Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. Please don’t suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.
I would be very happy if you would do me the honour of dancing with me, Miss Bennet.
Thank you, but excuse me, I-I am not inclined to dance.
Come, come, why not? When you see Mr Darcy has no objection, although he dislikes the amusement so much in general.
Mr Darcy is all politeness.
He is. He is; and why should he not be, considering the inducement? For who could object to such a partner? Eh, Darcy?
I beg you would excuse me.
Well, well. Oh, capital, Lydia, capital!