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There is an omnipresent gloom over Hertfordshire as the regiment’s stay in Meryton is coming to an end. Kitty and Lydia are wretched, and their mother shares their grief. Elizabeth is ashamed of their behavior and realizes again the truth of Darcy’s denunciations.
Elizabeth is worried about Lydia’s trip to Brighton with Mr. Foster; she is afraid that Lydia will behave in an unguarded, flippant, flirtatious, and wayward manner, damaging her reputation and the reputation of the Bennet family. Elizabeth, therefore, strongly advises her father not to allow Lydia to go; but her pleas fall on deaf ears.
On the regiment’s last day in Meryton, Wickham and some other officers dine
at Longbourn. Elizabeth tells Wickham that she has visited with Darcy
and Fitzwilliam, which seems to alarm Wickham. He is also baffled by Elizabeth’s
sudden reversal of opinion about Darcy and says that Darcy is always on
his best behavior when he is staying with his aunt, Lady Catherine, whom
The gloom that pervades Hertfordshire over the regiment’s departure is a comment on the nature of life in small, English country towns. The regiment has brought a breath of fresh air to their boring small-town existence; their departure implies the return to boredom and a narrow cycle of routine life.
Mrs. Bennet identifies with the beautiful, brainless, and flirtatious Lydia; one can only assume she was exactly like Lydia in her youth. Like Lydia, she grows sad when the regiment prepares to leave; she does not want to return to boredom. She easily grants permission for Lydia to go to Brighton for summer vacation and even suggests that Mr. Bennet take the rest of the family there for a while. Mr. Bennet has no intention of going to Brighton; neither does he try to stop Lydia from going, in spite of Elizabeth’s warnings. Caught between an over-indulgent mother and an uninvolved father, the Bennet girls are in a sad plight.
Elizabeth deliberately brings up Darcy in her conversation with Wickham; his
discomfiture confirms to Elizabeth the veracity of Darcy’s account. She
is now beginning to understand the real Darcy, accepting him as good rather
than being prejudiced against him as evil. When Wickham questions her
about her change of heart, she remarks that Darcy "improves on acquaintance".
It is summer at Longbourn; Lydia has gone to Brighton, and Mrs. Bennet and Kitty constantly complain of boredom. Mr. Bennett, as always, stays aloof and uninvolved. Elizabeth, remembering the contents of Darcy’s letter, is more bothered by her parents behavior than ever. She realizes they are totally mismatched and decides she will not marry until she finds someone with whom she can have a proper and supportive relationship.
Unlike the bored Kitty and her mother, Elizabeth is eagerly awaiting her trip with the Gardiners. As she dreams about the northern tour, she receives a letter explaining that the trip has to be shortened to only Derbyshire. She is momentarily disappointed, for she has been looking forward to seeing the lake.
The Gardiners take Elizabeth to Lambton, where Mrs. Gardiner once resided.
Pemberley, Darcy’s residence, is situated about five miles away. Elizabeth
is persuaded by her aunt and uncle to visit Pemberley, since the family
This chapter further presents the marital situation of the Bennets, which is a mismatched relationship between a man of some intelligence and a simple and obnoxious woman; leading totally separate lives, there is little affection or communication between them. Mrs. Bennet rules the household, and her husband stands by as a spectator. Elizabeth now notices everything that is wrong with and between her mother and father. She promises herself never to marry until she finds the right husband.
At first Elizabeth is disappointed that the Gardiners will not be taking her
to the north, beyond Derbyshire. She soon, however, accepts the idea and
eagerly begins the journey. Her visit to Lambton with the Gardiners is
vital because it takes her to Pemberley, where she will see Darcy in a
more favorable light.
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