Pride and Prejudice Chapters 22-28 Summary

After Mr. Collin's unexpected and unwanted proposal in the previous chapter, Elizabeth is surprised to hear that Mr. Collins has proposed to Charlotte Lucas in Chapter 22. Even more surprising is the fact that Charlotte has actually accepted. However, Charlotte insists that this is the best match that she could hope for because she, by her society's standards, is becoming too old to be an eligible bachelorette any longer. She believes this is a good opportunity for her because it will at least off her stability for her future. If she refuses, then it is likely she might never find a husband and, as a result, will be a burden to her parents for the rest of her life. This decision on her part should come as no surprise; after all, a conversation she had several chapters back with Elizabeth revealed that she believes love is not essential to marriage. However, this does not change the fact that Elizabeth feels her relationship with Charlotte will be forever changed.

For a time, Jane hears nothing from the Bingley. Then, when a letter finally does arrive from Caroline Bingley, it is only to brag about how charming Darcy's sister is and to state that the Bingleys will be staying in London for the remainder of the winter. Mrs. Bennet begins to despair a little, seeing that Jane's prospects of marriage have come to an unexpected stand still. She remains angry at Elizabeth for letting Mr. Collins get away. Mr. Bennet, however, treats the issue lightly, jokingly telling Elizabeth that she should pursue Wickham so she can have her own experience with heartbreak.

Soon, Mr. Gardiner, who is Mrs. Bennet's brother, comes to stay with the Bennet family. The Gardiners immediately recognize Jane's sadness and, in an attempt to cheer her up, the invite her to their home in London. Jane accepts, also hoping that she might get the chance to see Mr. Bingley. During her visit, Mrs. Gardner also notices that Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth are spending a good deal of time with each other, though neither shows any serious romantic interest. Mrs. Gardener does, however, warn Elizabeth that Wickham would not be a suitable match because of his lack of fortune. She advises Elizabeth to proceed with caution.

The Gardners depart for London and, following this, Mr. Collins and Charlotte depart for his parish for the marriage. Charlotte makes Elizabeth promise to visit her, and Elizabeth reluctantly agrees.

Elizabeth receives a letter from Jane in London, who visited briefly with Caroline Bingley. Jane tells how Caroline was cold to her, and Jane seems to believe this is because Caroline sees her as an obstacle to her brother marrying Georgiana Darcy.

Elizabeth also receives a letter from Mrs. Gardner, who inquires about Wickham. Elizabeth reports that Wickham has shifted his attention to a certain Miss King, who has a considerable fortune. Elizabeth doesn't mourn over this for long, concluding that she probably wasn't in love with him to begin with.

When spring comes, Elizabeth fulfills her promise to visit Charlotte at her new home. Elizabeth travels with Charlotte's father and sister to Charlotte's home. Once at her destination, Elizabeth is warmly welcomed by Charlotte and Mr. Collins. She can't help that feel, in her visit, part of Mr. Collins purpose is to point out to her everything that she missed in refusing his proposal of marriage. Charlotte, however, seems happy enough-she has learned to deal with Mr. Collins' quirks and is happy to be the mistress of her own household. Soon, the Collins receive an invitation from Lady Catherine to dine with her at her estate, Rosings. Mr. Collins "congratulates" Elizabeth and Charlotte's family on their "good fortune" at such an invitation.

In this section, the Gardners emerge as in important foil the Bennet parents. The Gardners will appear several times throughout the novel, each time acting as paternal figures, especially to Elizabeth and Jane. Mrs. Gardner, in particular, offers sound advice to Elizabeth about Wickham, recognizing it is best for Elizabeth not to get too involved with him as she can have no real future with him. Additionally, the Gardners seem to recognize that a vacation is just what Jane needs to recover. They are reasonable, level-headed people.

This is a stark contrast to Mrs. Bennet, who is forever rambling on about the necessity of marriage for her daughters, and encouraging her youngest to flirt with the militia men in Meryton. Meanwhile, Mr. Bennet, is also flawed, though his wit and humor sometimes makes his flaws easy to overlook. Mr. Bennet, though clearly affectionate for his daughters, is seemingly oblivious of their needs. The entail of the estate does not seem to worry him, though if he dies, the lack of money left to his daughters will be a real problem for them. He even recklessly encourages the affection between Wickham and Elizabeth. In general, he seems more content to escape to his library to read in peace than to be an active parent.

All of this once again seems to be an effort on Jane Austen's part to highlight this injustice done to women in this society. On the one hand, it seems silly for Mrs. Bennet to place so much emphasis on marriage for her daughters. But, at the same time, Mr. Bennet seems reckless for ignoring the importance of this. Austen seems to suggest there has to be some balance between this. Yes, marriage is important to women, but it doesn't have to be the entire focus of their lives. Marriage is more than a simple business agreement or necessity for the future in Austen's eyes.

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