Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 31 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Colonel Fitzwilliam is about thirty years old and, though not good-looking, has pleasing manners and is liked at the parsonage. A week after the arrival of her nephews, Lady Catherine invites the parsonage party to visit her on Sunday evening. Fitzwilliam is attracted by Elizabeth and entertains her, while Darcy keeps looking towards them, and Lady Catherine keeps calling out questions to them. Elizabeth plays the piano at Fitzwilliam’s request and Darcy stands by the piano, disgusted by his aunt’s rudeness in talking while Elizabeth is performing. Elizabeth cannot discern any signs that Darcy is in love with his cousin, the sickly Miss de Bourgh.

      Critical Analysis: This chapter presents the character of Colonel Fitzwilliam and emphasizes the contrast between him and Darcy. Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam seem to get along exceptionally well together. Now it is Elizabeth who shines while Darcy observes, and now it is Darcy’s relative, Lady Catherine, who embarrasses everyone with her chatter. There is a slight movement towards each other as when Darcy and she agree that “neither of us perform to strangers”. They are indeed well-mated, but they have yet to acknowledge their love for one another.

      Colonel Fitzwilliam is one of the minor characters, still he has an important role to play. He has an informed mind, is pleasant looking like Wickham, but, is far superior. At the same time his breezy and sanguine openness is a contrast to Darcy’s reserved nature.

      Lady Catherine by her embarrassing comments on allowing Elizabeth to use the servants’ room to practice the piano more often, shows Darcy that ill-breeding is to be seen as frequently among the higher classes as among the lower and helps him get over his prejudice.

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