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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis) (continued)

Elizabeth goes to Hunsford to visit Mr. Collins and his new wife Charlotte, who is Elizabeth’s dear friend. During Elizabeth’s stay in Hunsford, Darcy happens to visit his aunt, who also lives there, and attempts to build a relationship with Elizabeth. To her surprise, Darcy proposes marriage to her in a language so arrogant that Elizabeth turns him down indignantly. She asks him how he dares to propose to her after separating Jane and Bingley, who were in love with each other, and after victimizing Wickham. She ends her tirade by saying that she would not marry him even if he were the last man on the earth. Darcy is upset and leaves in a huff. The next morning he meets Elizabeth when she goes out for a walk and hands her a long letter that answers all her accusations. He explains to her that he did not believe that Jane was really in love with Bingley. He also tells her the truth about Wickham. Elizabeth is shocked by his answers.

There is also another shock awaiting her. Her youngest sister Lydia has been invited to Brighton by a young officer’s wife. Lydia is very excited about the trip; but Elizabeth knows how stupid, scatter brained, and flirtatious Lydia is. She tries to persuade her father not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton. Her father, however, dismisses Elizabeth’s fears.

Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner plan a tour of the Lake District and take Elizabeth with them. At the last minute, however, the tour is cut short and the Gardiners decide to restrict their trip to Derbyshire, where Darcy has his vast estate in Pemberley. Elizabeth makes sure that Darcy is away on business and then agrees to visit Pemberley, out of sheer curiosity. Pemberley is one of the most beautiful places she has ever visited, and Darcy’s elegant tastes are evident everywhere. To top it all, Ms. Reynolds, the housekeeper who has known Darcy since his childhood, speaks very highly of him, saying he is just and fair. Elizabeth cannot believe that she has made such a mistake in judging his character. As Elizabeth is looking over Pemberley’s lovely grounds, Darcy himself appears, returning a day before he is expected. He looks surprised to see Elizabeth, and she is intensely embarrassed. He is polite to her and the Gardiners, and Elizabeth notices that there is no trace of pride in him.

The following day, Bingley calls on Elizabeth, and his anxious inquiries about Jane indicate that he is still in love with her. Darcy and his beautiful sister, Georgiana, also call on Elizabeth at the inn to invite her and the Gardiners to dinner. Elizabeth accepts the dinner invitation. During the dinner, Caroline tries her best to destroy the friendly relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth by running down Elizabeth’s family, but she does not succeed. Darcy is fond of Elizabeth.


News comes that Lydia has eloped with Wickham, so Elizabeth leaves Derbyshire with the Gardiners to return home. All attempts at tracing the runaway couple have failed. Darcy, touched by Elizabeth’s distress over Lydia, seeks to find her and catches up with the couple in London. Darcy convinces Wickham to marry Lydia, gives him ten thousand pounds, pays up his debts, and persuades him to settle in the North of London. Darcy then requests that the Gardiners not reveal his help to the Bennet family. Elizabeth, however, finds out the truth about Darcy’s assistance. She is impressed with his kindness.

Bingley makes an unannounced reappearance at Netherfield Park, and renews his courtship of Jane. They are soon engaged. Lady Catherine also arrives unannounced and acts very haughty towards the Bennet family. She threatens Elizabeth with dire consequences if she marries Darcy, but Elizabeth refuses to promise that she will not accept a proposal from Darcy. A few days later, Darcy comes to visit and makes a second proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. This time she accepts wholeheartedly. He thanks Elizabeth for teaching him the lesson of humility.

The two couples, Jane and Bingley and Elizabeth and Darcy, are married on the same morning. Mrs. Bennet is overjoyed at having three of her daughters married, two of them to very rich young men. After a year’s stay at Netherfield Park, Bingley purchases an estate in Derbyshire. His mother-in-law’s tiresome company and her vulgar behavior are too much even for his calm temperament. The novel finally ends on a note of reconciliation with all of the characters trying to forgive and forget past insults.

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