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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 46

Summary

Darcy seems to be on the verge of proposing to Elizabeth again when she receives alarming news from Jane. Lydia has eloped with Wickham, which distresses Elizabeth greatly since she knows that Wickham has not married her sister. Jane asks Elizabeth to return home immediately and asks Mr. Gardiner to aid their father with a search for Lydia in London.

When Darcy enters, Elizabeth is trembling and in tears. He is genuinely concerned when he hears of the calamity. He holds himself partially responsible for what has happened to Lydia since he has failed to speak out against Wickham. Elizabeth also condemns herself for not warning her family about Wickham. She decides she must return home immediately to give support to the family.


Notes

A twist in the plot is provided by Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. Both Elizabeth and Darcy blame themselves for the catastrophe since they have not spoken out and revealed the truth about Wickham. As Darcy tries to comfort Elizabeth over the catastrophe, it is the first time the two of them are understanding and intimate with each other. Trusting Darcy as never before, Elizabeth opens up and talks about her family’s disgrace. In response, Darcy is kind, affectionate, and tender. Love has obviously made him more humble, sensitive, and understanding. It is ironic that a Bennet family crisis serves to bring the couple closer together, for in the past Darcy has only been critical of Elizabeth’s socially inferior family.

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