Summary and Analysis
Chapters 37-42 (Volume II, 14-19)
Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave Hunsford the day after Darcy gives Elizabeth the letter, and Elizabeth and Maria leave about a week later. On their way back to Longbourn, they stop at the Gardiners' in London for a few days and Jane returns home with them. Back at home, Kitty and Lydia agonize over the fact that the militia is leaving for Brighton in two weeks. Elizabeth is pleased that Wickham will no longer be around.
Elizabeth relates to Jane the details of Darcy's proposal and all about the letter, with the exception of the part about Jane and Bingley. Jane responds with shock and disbelief that Wickham could have such a mercenary nature. She and Elizabeth discuss whether this new information about Wickham should be made public, but they decide against it because he will be leaving soon.
As the regiment prepares to depart, the wife of the colonel of the regiment invites Lydia to accompany them to Brighton. Worried about her sister's immaturity and flightiness, Elizabeth tries to persuade her father to forbid Lydia's going, but he refuses, implying that he would rather risk Lydia embarrassing the family than deal with her misery if he made her stay.
Lydia leaves, and Elizabeth awaits her trip with the Gardiners that summer. They leave in July and the Gardiners decide to shorten the trip to visit only Derbyshire county, where Mrs. Gardiner grew up. Derbyshire is also where Darcy's estate, Pemberley, is located. When they arrive in Derbyshire, Mrs. Gardiner decides that she wants to see Pemberley, and Elizabeth agrees after finding out that none of the family will be there.
In these chapters, Elizabeth returns home and the story returns to some of the minor plot elements, including Lydia and the militia, Meryton's perceptions of Wickham, and Mr. Bennet's irresponsibility. Elizabeth's most important action here is her inaction when she decides not to reveal Wickham's true nature to the public and even to keep it from her family.
However, Elizabeth does plead with her father not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton. Mr. Bennet's response exemplifies how he refuses to take responsibility for his family, especially because he knows that Lydia will probably behave inappropriately while she is there. Because Elizabeth has so recently been made aware by Darcy of the effects of her sister's indecorum, she argues strongly that the family should not allow another breach of decorum that could harm the girls' chances of finding a suitable husband. Considering that Mr. Bennet has squandered his money and will leave his daughters nearly destitute, he should be acting to help them gain the security of good marriages. However, his apathy on this matter and concern for his own comfort is stronger than any concerns he may have for his daughters. Although she cares about her father, Elizabeth is "disappointed and sorry" with his decision.
obeisance a gesture of respect or reverence, such as a bow or curtsy.
diminution a diminishing or being diminished; lessening; decrease.
the barouche box the driver's seat in a barouche, a four-wheeled carriage with a collapsible hood and two seats opposite each other.
upbraided rebuked severely or bitterly; censured sharply.
affronted insulted openly or purposely; offended; slighted.
indecorum lack of decorum; lack of propriety or good taste.
sentinel a person set to guard a group; specifically, a sentry.
larder a place where the food supplies of a household are kept; pantry.
allayed put to rest; quieted; calmed. Said of fears or anxieties.
querulous inclined to find fault; complaining.
spars shiny, crystalline, nonmetallic mineral that chips or flakes.
acquiesce to agree or consent quietly without protest, but without enthusiasm.
chambermaid a woman whose work is taking care of bedrooms.