Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 43 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Elizabeth is delighted at the sight of Pemberley House and the natural beauty of its grounds. For a moment she feels that to be mistress of Pemberley might be an achievement. The housekeeper shows them round the house, which is tastefully furnished. Wonderful views are seen from the windows. The house keeper informs them that Darcy is expected the next day with a large party of friends. They see miniatures of Wickham, Darcy and his sister. The housekeeper tells them that Wickham is “wild” but that Darcy is a sweet-tempered, generous man and she has regard and respect for him. Elizabeth is astonished. The housekeeper goes on to say that he is not only a good master but a wonderful landlord, being extremely good to his tenants. She adds that he is unlike most other young men, being extremely unselfish. She tells them that he is a devoted brother and does all he can for his sister’s pleasure.

      As the party is looking over the grounds, they encounter Darcy, who had arrived unexpectedly early. Elizabeth is covered with confusion and vexation lest he should think she has thrown herself in his way. Darcy speaks to her with gentleness. Elizabeth introduces him to the Gardiners and she glories in every expression and every sentence of her uncle, which reflects his intelligence, his taste and his good manners. Mr. Darcy is altered in his manner, showing none of his usual proud arrogance. He is charming to the Gardiners, invites Mr. Gardiner to fish in his streams and asks Elizabeth if he may introduce her to his sister, who is anxious to meet her. When they have left Pemberley, the Gardiners are surprised that Elizabeth has described Darcy to them as disagreeable, and amazed that he could have been so cruel to Wickham. Elizabeth gives them to understand that Darcy is not to blame for the fact that Wickham did not receive the church endowment. Elizabeth spends the rest of the day thinking with wonder of Mr. Darcy’s civility and above all of his wishing her to meet his sister.

      Critical Analysis: This chapter shows the beginning of Elizabeth’s changing view of Darcy. She has already begun to see him in a new light since his letter to her. But when she steps into the Pemberley estate, she really begins to perceive the true worth of Darcy. She is surprised to learn from the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds that Darcy is a fine master and a landlord with a great sense of responsibility to his servants. She tells Elizabeth that Darcy has never said a cross word and that he is an affectionate brother. Far from being proud it is his shy and reserved nature which prevents him from being friendly with strangers. Elizabeth thus begins to feel a more gentle sensation towards Darcy.

      The sudden appearance of Darcy at Pemberley adds to Elizabeth’s confusion and embarrassment. She finds him completely changed. We are later told that he is deeply affected by Elizabeth’s accusation that he has acted in an ‘ungentleman-like manner’ and decides to be as gentle as possible. He is thus very warm and friendly and asks to be introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. He invites Mr. Gardiner to fish at his estate and wants Elizabeth to be introduced to his sister Georgiana. Elizabeth is grateful that he has forgiven her. The Gardiners are also impressed with Darcy.

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