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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

Darcy brings his sister to call the very morning of her arrival at Pemberley. Bingley arrives soon after. The Gardiners are beginning to suspect that Darcy is in love with Elizabeth: that is the only thing that can account for his attentiveness.

Bingley asks after Elizabeth's family. Elizabeth listens closely for signs that he is still thinking of Jane. She hears such a clue when he remembers the exact date on which he last saw the Bennets.

Elizabeth finds the young Miss Darcy to be shy rather than proud; she is also unsure of her social duties. Darcy has to remind her that she wishes to invite the visitors to dinner at Pemberley the next day.

The visit leaves Elizabeth more confused than ever about her own feelings.



NOTE: In this and succeeding chapters, Elizabeth continues her self-examination. It is a powerful factor in keeping up the suspense of the story at this crucial stage. As Darcy reveals more and more of the softer aspects of his personality, Elizabeth must respond to her changing image of him. Her feelings, along with her understanding, are now continually shifting.

Mrs. Gardiner is full of curiosity about the relationship of Elizabeth and Darcy but too tactful to ask Elizabeth. Instead she casually inquires among her friends in the town about his reputation among them. They have little to say about him except that he is believed to be proud, a predictable opinion from townsfolk about the wealthy, aloof aristocrat in their neighborhood. They know more of Wickham, and their judgment is not favorable. He left the neighborhood owing many debts, which, they tell her, Darcy paid.

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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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