Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 48 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

      Summary. Mr. Gardiner leaves for London, but his wife remains on at Longbourn a few days longer. A letter arrives from Mr. Gardiner saying that he and Mr. Bennet have not yet been successful in tracing Lydia. Mr. Collins writes what purports to be a condoling letter, but it is full of hurtful allusions to Lydia’s disposition and upbringing. It is also full of self-gratulation that Elizabeth’s denial of his proposal had providentially saved him from being tainted by their family disgrace. Messages in the same strain from Lady Catherine are included. Colonel Foster sends a letter to Mr. Gardiner telling him that Wickham has left considerable gaming and other debts behind him in Brighton. Mr. Gardiner persuades Mr. Bennet to return home. He is as composed as ever but tells Elizabeth that he blames himself for Lydia’s behaviour.

      Critical Analysis. Mr. Bennet realises his own mistake in indulging Lydia and accepts the blame. He has been ineffectual in tracing Lydia and comes back leaving everything in Mr. Gardiner’s hand. He recognises the good advice Elizabeth had given him but which he had failed to heed.

      The Lydia affair occupying most of the final action in the novel is important for a number of reasons. It emphasizes the theme of the individual responsibility towards preservation of family honour and social norms. Acting selfishly Lydia has jeopardised the chances of her sisters to settle down to respectable marriages and has tainted the family honour. Mr. Collins’ letter expresses his sense of relief on having escaped this taint. Lady Catherine will use it later to prevent Darcy’s marriage with Elizabeth.

Previous Post Next Post