Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 49 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary. Two days after Mr. Bennet’s return home, he receives an express letter from Mr. Gardiner disclosing that the latter has found Lydia and Wickham in London. They are not married, out, if Mr. Bennet will settle on his daughter her equal share of the five thousand pounds she should inherit after her father’s death and allow her one hundred pounds a year, the marriage will take place. Mr. Gardiner goes on to say that Wickham’s circumstances are not as bad as they thought, as there will be a little money over, when his debts are paid, to settle on Lydia. It appears from this letter that Wickham is not as underserving as they thought and Jane and Elizabeth urge their father to send back a favourable reply at once Mr. Bennet consents, but is of the opinion that Mr. Gardiner has paid Wickham a sum of money to marry Lydia. Mr. Bennet puts the sum at not less than ten thousand pounds. Jane and Elizabeth are very relieved that the marriage will take place. Mrs. Bennet is acquainted with the news and can hardly contain herself with joy. She orders the carriage so that she may be driven to Meryton to tell the goods news to Mrs. Philips and the Lucases.

      Critical Analysis. This chapter presents letter from Mr. Gardiner. Elizabeth realises that Lydia does not care much whether she gets married or not because she is enjoying all attention. Wickham’s dishonourable nature is further revealed. His actions are definitely based on the Knowledge that he can blackmail Mr. Bennet to pay money and thus clear his debts. This again is a bad marriage based on economics - but in the reverse. It is Wickham who needs the money.

      Mr. Gardiner, who has absolutely no regard for Lydia, strives to arrange the marriage only because he would not like the Bennets’ stigma to affect the lives of his children. That Lydia selfishly does not recognise the repercussions of her elopement is a sign of her immaturity.

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