Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 25 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: Mr. Collins returns again to Hertfordshire and Mrs. Bennet's brother, his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, come to spend Christmas at Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet tells her sister how disappointed she is that Jane and Elizabeth are not yet engaged or married. Mrs. Gardiner is younger than Mrs. Bennet and is sympathetic towards June and Elizabeth. She suggests that a change of scene may do Jane good in her disappointment over Bingley and suggests that she should return to London with Mr. Gardiner and herself. Jane accepts the invitation with pleasure. Mrs. Gardiner spent considerable time in Derbyshire before her marriage and knows the part where Wickham belongs, so that he and she have many acquaintances in common; Wickham is able to give her news of these. Mrs. Gardiner has also seen Pemberley and knew the late Mr. Darcy well. She has a vague recollection that she has heard Mr. Darcy spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy.

      Critical Analysis: So far the situation is stagnant because of the distance separating Bingley from Longbourn. However, with the arrival of the Gardiners the plot begins to move again. With the promise of Jane’s visit to London, there is a distinct possibility that the two may meet and be reconciled in spite of Darcy and Caroline. The attack by Jane Austen on contemporary notions of “romantic love” is to be noted. Mrs. Gardiner sees that such love, based on feelings and passion, is swift and violent but also vague, unpredictable and brief. Jane Austen’s philosophy demands a love that is permanent and sensible.

      The Gardiners are a sensible couple. They are amiable, intelligent discreet, vastly superior to the other relatives of the Bennets. They cause no embarrassment to Elizabeth by the vulgarity of their conduct. So far Elizabeth is surrounded by vulgar people. Now Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine will make him blush while the Gardiners with their refined behaviour will prove to Darcy that good manners and breeding are not the preserve of any one class.

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