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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

Lydia and Kitty meet their sisters with the Bennet carriage at an inn on the road home. Lydia, giddy as usual, rattles on about a new bonnet, about the regiment's plans to leave Meryton, and about the fact that Wickham is no longer pursuing the young heiress-whose family has sent her out of his reach to relations in Liverpool.

At home, Lydia still chatters on about the officers. Mrs. Bennet talks about persuading Mr. Bennet to send them all to Brighton, the seaside resort where the militia will be encamped for the summer. Elizabeth is relieved that her father has no intention of doing so. But because he gives only a vague answer, Mrs. Bennet is not discouraged.

NOTE: The follies of Elizabeth's family now seem poignant instead of comic-to Elizabeth, and to the reader.



CHAPTER FORTY

Elizabeth at last unburdens herself to Jane, being careful to tell her sister only about Darcy and Wickham. She doesn't mention anything about Bingley-and Darcy's influence over him.

Elizabeth makes her story of Darcy's proposal and his letter of the next day as cheerful and entertaining as she can. Jane is grieved for both Darcy and Wickham. Elizabeth teases her: "There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy's; but you shall do as you choose." She says, too, that there was some great mistake in the case of those two young men: "One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it."

Elizabeth is able, too, to laugh at herself: she meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so strong a dislike to Darcy, she says, but her behavior turned out to be "such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit."

Turning serious, she asks Jane's opinion on whether they should expose Wickham's true character to their friends. Jane agrees with her that there is no need, as Wickham will soon be gone with the regiment. As you will see, this turns out to be an unwise decision.

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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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