Summary and Analysis
Chapters 43-46 (Volume III, 1-4)
Elizabeth and the Gardiners arrive at the Pemberley estate and are impressed by the beauty of the house and the grounds. As they tour the house, the housekeeper praises Darcy, saying "He is the best landlord, and the best master that ever lived." The housekeeper also confirms that Darcy isn't presently at home, but she adds that he is expected the following day. As the Gardiners and Elizabeth walk around Pemberley's grounds, however, Darcy suddenly appears. Mortified to have him find her there, Elizabeth's emotions are further confused by his courteous and gentle tone. He asks her if he can introduce his sister to her soon, and Elizabeth agrees, wondering what this show of interest and pleasant behavior can mean. As she and her relatives drive away, Elizabeth mulls over the encounter while her aunt and uncle discuss Darcy's surprising geniality.
Darcy calls on Elizabeth and the Gardiners the next day with his sister and Bingley. Elizabeth immediately notices that Miss Darcy is not proud, as Wickham had asserted, but painfully shy. Elizabeth also watches Bingley and Miss Darcy interact and is pleased to see no signs of a romantic attachment between them, as was implied by Miss Bingley. In fact, Elizabeth believes she detects several wistful references to Jane in his conversation. As Elizabeth nervously tries to please everyone with her manners and speech, the Gardiners observe both her and Darcy. From their observations, they are sure that Darcy is very much in love with Elizabeth, but they are uncertain about Elizabeth's feelings for him. Elizabeth is also uncertain, and lays awake that night trying to determine what her feelings for Darcy are.
The next day, the Gardiners and Elizabeth go to Pemberley at Darcy's and Miss Darcy's invitation. Mr. Gardiner goes fishing with the men while Mrs. and Gardiner and Elizabeth join Georgiana, Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst, and Georgiana's companion at the house. Although Miss Bingley treats Elizabeth coldly, Elizabeth attributes her behavior to jealousy. When Darcy returns from fishing, his behavior shows that he is clearly attracted to Elizabeth. Miss Bingley attempts to allude to Elizabeth's former attachment to Wickham and to make her look foolish by bringing up her sisters' attachment to the regiment in Meryton, but Elizabeth's calm response makes Miss Bingley look ill-natured instead. After Elizabeth and the Gardiners leave, Miss Bingley tries again to demean Elizabeth, this time by criticizing her appearance. She is deflated, however, by Darcy's remark that Elizabeth is "one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance."
Elizabeth soon receives two letters from Jane that shatter any hopes she has of further exploring her relationship with Darcy. In the letters, Jane tells her that Lydia has run away with Wickham from Brighton and that they probably have not gotten married. They were spotted headed toward London, so Mr. Bennet is going there to search for them and Jane asks that Mr. Gardiner join Mr. Bennet in London to assist in the search.
Dismayed by the news, Elizabeth rushes to get her uncle, but is met there by Darcy. Troubled by Elizabeth's agitation, Darcy sends for her uncle and stays with her to try to calm her down. Overcome by what she has learned, Elizabeth begins to cry and tells Darcy what has happened. He expresses concern and worries that his own silence regarding Wickham is, in part, responsible for the present situation. Thinking he is only in the way, Darcy leaves. Elizabeth realizes that she loves him, but fears that the family scandal will ruin her chances of his wanting her for a wife. The Gardiners soon arrive, and they and Elizabeth leave immediately for Longbourn.
The changes in Elizabeth's feelings for Darcy that began earlier upon reading his letter continue in this section. Elizabeth began the novel disliking Darcy, and her prejudice caused her to find more and more reasons to dislike him. However, after she realized the truth about her prejudices, she opened herself up to discovering Darcy's true character. By visiting Darcy's home, Elizabeth is finally able to see Darcy for what he is. Darcy has stated that he is uncomfortable with strangers, and the only settings Elizabeth had seen him in were places that were not his home. At Pemberley, Elizabeth not only views Darcy in the environment in which he is most comfortable, but she also observes his treatment of those things and people that are under his care — his estate, his servants, and his sister. She now realizes that he is a fine brother and a landlord with a great sense of responsibility to his servants and tenants — admirable characteristics that she had previously failed to detect. Such discoveries cause Elizabeth to feel "a more gentle sensation" towards Darcy "than she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance."
However, Darcy's dramatically altered behavior toward Elizabeth and her relatives cannot be completely attributed to his being comfortable at home. His friendly manners — especially toward the Gardiners — suggest that the confrontation between Elizabeth and himself affected him just as strongly as it did her. The magnitude of Darcy's change can be seen in his reaction to the news of Lydia's elopement. Rather than being appalled at the disgraceful conduct of Elizabeth's sister, Darcy displays tenderness over Elizabeth's feelings and well-being.
Darcy feels a sense of responsibility for the situation, as does Elizabeth. The reader begins to see here how similar these two people are in their willingness to be held accountable for their actions and their desire to protect their families. Additionally, their responses to the crisis also demonstrate how much they care for one another. For Elizabeth, although the news about Lydia is shocking and disgraceful, she shares it with Darcy, showing that she trusts him. Elizabeth also tells Darcy that she should have revealed Wickham's true nature to her family, letting him know that she believed his letter and has recognized that she was wrong when she accused him of treating Wickham badly.
Meanwhile, Darcy feels that he should have publicly dishonored Wickham when Wickham tried to elope with his sister, but his family pride prevented it. Darcy realizes that his reluctance to disgrace Wickham over his sister's near-mistake has resulted in Wickham ruining the reputation of another young woman, as well as the reputation of her family. Consequently, although Elizabeth believes that this elopement is a disgrace on her family, Darcy feels that the disgrace is on himself, a result of his earlier pride for not exposing Wickham's untrustworthiness. Even though Elizabeth has learned to love Darcy, she still obviously does not really know him, for she projects her own sense of shame onto him and believes that he will want nothing more to do with her.
perturbation something that perturbs; disturbance.
adorned decorated; ornamented.
aspect the appearance of a thing as seen from a specific point; view.
intimation a hint; indirect suggestion.
affable gentle and kindly.
lobby a hall or large anteroom.
consigned put in the care of another; entrusted.
hanging woods a thick growth of trees on the side of a hill.
glen a narrow, secluded valley.
coppice-wood a thicket of small trees or shrubs.
acceded gave assent; gave in; agreed.
embargo any restriction or restraint.
construction an explanation or interpretation.
environs surrounding area; vicinity.
curricle a light, two-wheeled carriage drawn by two horses side by side.
livery an identifying uniform such as was formerly worn by feudal retainers or is now worn by servants or those in some particular group or trade.
acute keen or quick of mind; shrewd.
untinctured not colored or tinged with some substance or quality.
complaisance willingness to please; disposition to be obliging and agreeable; affability.
petulance impatience or irritability, especially over a petty annoyance; peevishness.
acrimony bitterness or harshness of temper, manner, or speech; asperity.
ardent warm or intense in feeling; passionate.
expedient useful for effecting a desired result; suited to the circumstances or the occasion; advantageous; convenient.
saloon any large room or hall designed for receptions or exhibitions.
brevity the quality of being concise; terseness.
post a position, job, or duty to which a person is assigned or appointed.
nettled irritated; annoyed; vexed.
ill badly; wrongly; improperly; imperfectly.
afforded to give; furnish.
own to admit; recognize; acknowledge.
Gretna Green a border village in Scotland, where, formerly, many eloping English couples went to be married.
exigence a situation calling for immediate action or attention.
fixed firmly placed or attached; not movable.
palliation alessening of the pain or severity of something without actually curing it; alleviation; easing.
infamy very bad reputation; notoriety; disgrace; dishonor.
actuated put into action or motion.