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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 35

Summary

The next morning Elizabeth is walking by the park gates when she is confronted by Darcy, who thrusts a letter in her hand and leaves. The letter, contrary to her expectations, does not renew his marriage proposal. Instead, Darcy admits that he persuaded Bingley to give up Jane, for he had the impression that Jane did not really love Bingley. Darcy now realizes his mistake; however, he still feels the Bennet family, especially the mother, is ill suited to become the in-laws of a man of Bingley’s caliber. Darcy also apologizes for keeping Jane’s presence in London a secret from Bingley.

In regard to Wickham, Darcy informs Elizabeth that his own father, who employed Wickham’s dad, had given Wickham 3,000 to aid him in studying law. Unfortunately, Wickham squandered the money in idle living; quickly exhausting the funds, Wickham demanded more money. When rebuffed by Darcy, Wickham tried to get back at Darcy by attempting to elope with Darcy’s young sister, which Darcy was able to foil. Darcy ends the letter by asserting the veracity of his statements, which Colonel Fitzwilliam can certify. Darcy closes the letter with "God bless you."


Notes

The letter that Darcy thrusts into Elizabeth’s hand is the most important letter in the book. As Darcy tries to defend himself in the letter, he clears up several unanswered questions.

It is important to note the style of Darcy’s letter. Like Darcy himself, the language of the letter is direct, straight-forward, precise, proud, and, above all, faithful to his convictions. In fact, Darcy’s tersely worded letter reads like a legal manuscript; it is a sharp contrast to Mr. Collins’ first letter to Mr. Bennet, which was full of flowery language and formal addresses.

Elizabeth’s aggressive behavior has forced Darcy to defend himself. In the letter, he elucidates his role in the Jane-Bingley matter and exposes Wickham’s treachery. The reader now understands why Darcy, at various moments in the novel, has been hesitant to divulge the truth about Wickham. Since the man misled his young sister, Darcy could not explain his treatment of Wickham without bringing his dear sister into the picture.

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