Pride and Prejudice Chapters 36-43 Summary

Elizabeth continues her journey home, stopping briefly in London to visit the Gardiners and Jane. Then, with Jane, she heads home. Lydia and Catherine meet them in town with the coach to ride back to Longbourne. More silly than ever, Kitty and Lydia prattle on endlessly about the soldiers in Meryton whom they've been flirting with. The whole scene really shows how immature Lydia is in particular, as she invites her sisters to lunch but then, having no money, forces Jane and Elizabeth to pay for it. Lydia mentions Wickham in particular, observing that he no longer seems interested in pursuing Miss King. Once they arrive home, all Lydia and Kitty can talk about is visiting Meryton soon to meet their soldier friends. Uneasy about Wickham, Elizabeth refuses to go with them.

Shortly after this, Elizabeth tells Jane everything that transpired while she was staying with Charlotte, including the proposal and Darcy's letter. They contemplate telling everyone about Wickham's dishonest nature but, ultimately, they decide to keep quite, feeling as though it is not their place to do so.

Quite unexpectedly, Lydia receives a letter from a friend of hers-Mrs. Forster-inviting her to spend the summer with them in Brighton, where her husband, a militia officer, will be stationed. Elizabeth voices her concerns to her father about granting his permission to do this. Elizabeth feels that this is only an opportunity for Lydia to get into trouble. However, Mr. Bennet reassures her, saying that surely Mrs. Forster and Colonel Forster will look out for her. Furthermore, Mr. Bennet seems to believe that this will be a good experience for Lydia to gain some maturity.

Soon enough, the militia departs for Brighton. Elizabeth sees Wickham once before this happens and treats him coldly, making it clear she knows the truth. Kitty mourns the loss of both the militia and her sister as Lydia goes off to Brighton.

Needing a distraction herself, Elizabeth agrees to go on a trip with the Gardiners later in the summer. They have decided to tour the scenic district of Derbyshire which, coincidentally, is where Mr. Darcy's estate, Pemberley, resides. The Gardiners want to take a tour of the estate. The whole notion of touring Darcy's home may seem strange to us in modern times; however, during Regency England lords and owners of vast estates often opened their home for public viewings. At first Elizabeth objects to the Gardiner's desire to see Pemberley. But, she finally agrees only because Darcy is supposed to be out of town during their visit.

When Elizabeth reaches Pemberley, she is taken aback by its beauty and vastness. She cannot help but wonder what it would have been like if she had accepted Darcy's proposal and become mistress of the estate. She and the Gardiners talk to some of Darcy's servants, who describe him as a compassionate master and a pleasure to serve. The Gardiners are surprised because, though they have never met Darcy, they have heard that he is a proud sort of person.

Much to Elizabeth's shock and dismay, they run into Darcy while at his estate; apparently, he has returned home to make preparations for several guests. Elizabeth finds herself more and more embarrassed to be caught in his home after everything that has transpired in recent months. She assures Darcy it was a mistake in coming. However, he is much more civil and much warmer than she expected. When Darcy departs, the Gardiners are impressed by his good manners.

Elizabeth's visit to Darcy's estate marks an important change in her. For the first time, she begins to realize that she could see a future with Mr. Darcy. Additionally, she begins to see a whole different side of Darcy that she had been unable to see before. According to his servants, Darcy is a likeable and compassionate man. Elizabeth realizes that this is quite telling. After all, a man's servants are of course subservient to him and they often get a glimpse of how a person not only treats their equals, but also those below them in status. For the servants to speak so highly of him really speaks volumes about his character.

Furthermore, Elizabeth begins to feel differently toward Darcy when she meets him at Pemberley. Since she rejected him and so fully misunderstood him, she expects that he will be cold and perhaps even rude to her. However, Darcy is, instead the perfect gentleman. Even the Gardiners are impressed. Elizabeth sees, more than ever, that she had misjudged him in labeling him as simply proud. There is a whole different aspect to Darcy's character that she is just beginning to become aware of.

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