Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 26 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mrs. Gardiner warns Elizabeth against falling in love with Wickham, who has no fortune, Elizabeth reply that she is not in love with Wickham, although he is the most agreeable man she has ever seen. She promises her aunt that, whatever happens, she will do nothing in a hurry.

      Mr. Collin’s wedding day is approaching fast and he is staying with the Lucases. The wedding takes place and the bride and groom leave for Kent from the church door. Charlotte has extracted a promise from Elizabeth that she will visit them in March. Jane arrives safely in London but, although she has written to Caroline Bingley telling her of her visit, she receives no reply. Jane thinks that the letter has gone astray and calls on Caroline, who professes to be glad to see Jane and declares that the letter did not reach her. Caroline Bingley delays about four weeks before returning Jane’s visit and then only stays a short while. Of Mr. Bingley there is no sign. Jane now realizes that Caroline has not much regard for her and writes to Elizabeth telling her so. Meanwhile, Wickham has transferred his attentions from Elizabeth to a young lady who has just inherited ten thousand pounds. Elizabeth is not wounded at this and writes to inform her aunt, telling her that she feels only cordiality towards Wickham and Miss King, the young lady in question.

      Critical Analysis: Jane seems to have matured in the process of being disillusioned. Until now, she has naively trusted everyone, but Bingley’s failure to see her in London is convincing evidence that there is “a strong appearance of duplicity”. Jane Austen’s favourite theme of self-education and growth is thus developed in this small sub-plot. Elizabeth, ironically, reveals that she is still hasty in her judgement and subject to prejudice. She must show growth of character also.

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