Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 42 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary. Lydia has gone to Brighton and Mrs. Bennet and Kitty are always complaining of the dullness of everything. After several weeks, however, summer engagements begin and they are cheered up. Elizabeth is looking forward to a trip to the lakes with her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, when she receives a letter curtailing the trip and confining it to Derbyshire. Elizabeth is disappointed for a time; the Gardiners lake her to the little town of Lambton, where Mrs. Gardiner once lived. Pemberley is situated within five miles of this village, and Elizabeth is persuaded by her aunt and uncle to go and see the place, with its delightful grounds and some of the finest woods in the country. Elizabeth only consents when she hears that the family is away.

      Critical Analysis. The theme and subject of the novel is marriage: good marriages and bad marriages. In this chapter, there is a short discussion of the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. Mr. Bennet is lured by captivating looks and marries a person of inferior mind with whom he is incompatible. The price of this imprudent marriage is that love, respect, esteem and confidence vanish from his life and he increasingly seeks his peace of mind beneath a veneer of cynicism or in the solitude of his library. As a husband, Elizabeth realizes the impropriety of her father’s behaviour. As a parent, too, he fails in his duty of guiding his daughters. Charlotte’s marriage based purely on reasons of economic security was one example of bad marriage; the Bennet marriage based merely on outward appearances and passions is another example of a bad marriage. The ill-matched marriage has repercussions on the children too. Mary, Lydia and Kitty all suffer from improper upbringing. And it is a surprise and much to their own credit that Jane and Elizabeth turn out so well.

      Elizabeth’s reluctance to visit Pemberley stems from her own embarrassment in always having judged Darcy wrongly.

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