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Free Study Guide: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Free BookNotes

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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: FREE DOWNLOADABLE NOTES

CHAPTER 40

Summary

No longer able to restrain herself, Elizabeth tells Jane about Darcy’s proposal and her rejection of it; the kind-hearted Jane feels sorry for Darcy. Elizabeth also tells about Darcy’s letter and explains about Wickham. Jane, who is oblivious to the existence of wickedness in the world, finds it hard to understand Wickham’s depravity. Elizabeth does not tell Jane of Darcy’s influencing Bingley against her, for she knows her sister still has a tender love for Bingley.

Mrs. Bennet continues her easy criticism. She calls Bingley an ‘undeserving young man’ who has treated Jane shabbily. She also makes barbed comments about the Collins.

Notes

Jane’s stay in London has restored her health, but has not ended her love for Bingley. As a result, Elizabeth is very careful what she says to her sister. Elizabeth’s eagerness to confide in Jane shows the deep friendship between the two. Although very close to each other, the two sisters are radically different in their temperaments. Jane is a ‘simple’ woman--uncomplicated, unintuitive, and full of undiscriminating goodness. Elizabeth is a ‘complex’ woman-- rational, intuitive, and judgmental. As a result, Jane has trouble understanding Wickham’s behavior and feels sorry for Darcy.



CHAPTER 41

Summary

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 he fears.

Notes

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".


CHAPTER 42

Summary

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 is away.

Notes

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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