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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 36

Summary

At first, Elizabeth finds the contents of Darcy’s letter incredulous, but soon the veracity of it dawns on her as she recalls the unscrupulous way in which Wickham has floated tales about Darcy and the purely ‘mercenary’ attachment he has formed with Miss King. She chides herself for being so wretchedly blind to Wickham’s faults, which she believes she failed to discern because of her vanity. Although she cannot accept that Jane was ever insensitive to Bingley, Elizabeth concedes to the critical statements Darcy has made about her parents. When Elizabeth returns to the parsonage from the park, she learns that Darcy and Fitzwilliam will be leaving Rosings.

Notes

Darcy’s letter evokes confusing responses from Elizabeth. Initially, she reads the letter "with a strong prejudice against everything he might say;" she has trouble accepting any of it as truth. Then gradually she realizes that Darcy has spoken correctly of Fitzwilliam and her parents. She cannot accept, however, that Jane has been insensitive to Bingley.


As pointed out earlier, Darcy’s letter reads like a legal manuscript, and Elizabeth’s manner in reading and rereading it is akin to a legal process. After getting the drift of his letter, Elizabeth begins "reconsidering events, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself as well." She studies Wickham’s case, recalling the discrepancies between Wickham’s statement and his action. She remembers the crudeness of her mother and father in front of Darcy. Finally, Elizabeth must admit the truth of Darcy’s accusations.

The most important result of the letter is that Elizabeth becomes aware of her ‘prejudice’. Earlier, she had chided Jane for being blind, and now she understands her own blindness. She confesses, "Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind". She accepts the fairness of Darcy’s objections and why he kept harping on the ‘obstacles’ he had to overcome to propose to her.

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