Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 35 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: The next morning Elizabeth is passing the park gates when Darcy calls to her and hands her a letter asking her to read it. He then walks away. Elizabeth reads the letter, in which Darcy explains that he persuaded Bingley to give up any thoughts of Jane because of a conviction that Jane did not return his friend’s affection. Darcy now realizes the possibility of error in that respect. He goes on to say, however, that Mrs. Bennet and the younger daughters often show a lack of propriety unfitting in a family into which Bingley should marry. This fact also influenced him to part Jane and his friend. Darcy adds that Elizabeth and Jane, however, have always conducted themselves in a fitting manner. Darcy admits that, aided by Bingley’s sisters, he has concealed from Bingley that Jane is in London. As regards George Wickham, Darcy informs Elizabeth that he is the son of a respectable man who managed the Pemberley estates well for many years. Darcy’s father was kind to his godson, George, and helped him through school and college, intending to provide for him in the Church if he made it his profession. After Darcy senior’s death, Wickham wrote to Darcy, saying that he did not intend to take holy orders and asking for money instead of the promised endowment. He accepted three thousand pounds instead of the church career. Wickham announced that the money was to aid him in studying law, but he led a life of idleness and dissipation instead. Later he wrote to Darcy saying that he had now decided to be ordained asking for the living, to which he had relinquished all claim. Darcy refused this and, in consequence, Wickham abused him. Not only that, but Wickham had the temerity to get Darcy’s fifteen-year-old sister to consent to elope with him, which fortunately, Darcy was able to circumvent. Wickham’s chief object was the thirty thousand pounds which was Miss Darcy’s fortune, although revenge on Durey doubtless played a part as well. Darcy ends the letter by asserting the truth of his statements, which Colonel Fitzwilliam will vouch for, and with the words “God bless you”.

      Critical Analysis: Darcy’s letter explaining and justifying his conduct is the turning point in the novel. In spite of Elizabeth’s harsh and humiliating rejection of him Darcy reveals wisdom and generosity in writing an explanation to her. He could have been as unbending as she. The letter is a sort of revelation to Elizabeth she begins to read it with a strong prejudice against everything he might say but realizes that she has been “blind, partial, prejudiced and absured”. The letter reveals to her Wickham’s villainy and she begins to see things in the proper perspective, revaluating Wickham and realising the impropriety and inconsistency of his behaviour. Darcy rises in her esteem.

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