Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 50 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mr. Bennet regrets that he has not been more thrifty and laid money by so that Lydia need not have been indebted to her uncle for handing Wickham a sum of money. He is determined to discover the amount and repay his brother-in-law as soon as he is able. He writes to Mr. Gardiner for particulars of his indebtedness to him but Mr. Gardiner requests him never to mention the financial arrangement again. After a fortnight’s sojourn in her room Mrs. Bennet is so recovered by the news of Lydia’s prospective marriage that she again takes her seat at the head of the table and is in high spirits, allowing no shame to dampen her triumph at getting one of her daughters married. Mr. Bennet listens to her plans for the married couple in silence, and then tells her that he will not receive either of them at Longbourn. An argument follows but Mr. Bennet is firm. Elizabeth now regrets that she has confided in Darcy. She knows that he is to be trusted, but she is ashamed that he should know of her family’s disgrace. She is now jealous of his esteem and realizes that he is just the man to make her a suitable husband, and that they would understand each other well. But she knows that she has discovered this too late. Mr. Gardiner writes that Wickham has decided to leave the militia and intends to go into a regiment now quartered in the north. Mr. Wickham’s creditors at Brighton and Meryton are to be paid without delay. Lydia’s uncle tells them that she begs to be allowed to see her family before leaving the south. Mr. Bennet at first rejects his daughter’s request, but Jane and Elizabeth urge him to receive her and her husband at Longbourn, and Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Gardiner, giving his daughter and Wickham permission to come. It is arranged that as soon as the marriage ceremony is over they will proceed to Longbourn.

      Critical Analysis: Elizabeth and Jane in analysing the situation realize that Wickham will not marry Lydia for a small sum and they conclude that Mr. Gardiner must have promised to pay off the large amount of debts Wickham has incurred. It is later learned that this has been done by Darcy. An important feature of this chapter is that Elizabeth realizes that Darcy is just the man to make her a suitable husband but in the light of Lydia’s elopement, she is afraid that her love has no hope of being returned. Jane Austen reveals that the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth when it takes place will be an example of true wedded bliss, since from her, his “manners would be improved”, and from him Elizabeth could derive “judgement, information and knowledge of the world.”

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