Pride and Prejudice Summary and Analysis
by Jane Austen
Volume III, Chapters 11-18
Volume III, Chapter 11 Summary:
Lydia and Wickham leave for Newcastle, where his new regiment is stationed. Lydia's good-byes are not very affectionate. Mrs. Bennet is sad that she will not be able to see her daughter for a long time.
Mrs. Bennet hears from Mrs. Phillips that Mr. Bingley is planning to return to Netherfield in a few days. Jane tells Elizabeth that she does not want to see much of him. Elizabeth, however, after having seen him while on vacation with the Gardiners, is sure that he is still partial to Jane, and thinks that perhaps Mr. Darcy may have told Bingley that he now approves of the match.
Mrs. Bennet plans to invite Bingley to dinner. Jane is obviously disturbed by his coming and is pained by the constant mention of his name.
Mr. Bingley and Darcy come to pay a visit at Netherfield. Elizabeth begins to hope that Darcy's affections for her are not shaken. When they come in, Elizabeth is pained by Mrs. Bennet's cold reception of Darcy in comparison with Mr. Bingley, considering how much she owes to Darcy. Elizabeth is also mortified by her mother's jubilant announcement of Lydia and Wickham's marriage. Darcy speaks little during the visit. When the gentlemen are leaving Mrs. Bennet invites them for dinner.
Volume III, Chapter 12 Summary:
During the dinner party, Bingley sits next to Jane and Elizabeth is convinced that he still admires her. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are sitting too far apart to be able to speak, and circumstances prevent them from conversing after dinner. Elizabeth is anxious and annoyed because she wants to speak with him very badly. Mrs. Bennet is extremely pleased with the dinner and is sure that Bingley and Jane will soon be married. Mr. Darcy is going back to London but will return in 10 days.
Volume III, Chapter 13 Summary:
After a few days Mr. Bingley calls again, and the day after he joins them again for dinner. Mrs. Bennet contrives to get Jane and Bingley alone together, but is unsuccessful. The next morning Mr. Bingley joins Mr. Bennet to go hunting, and he then stays for dinner. Mrs. Bennet is this time successful in arranging for Jane and Bingley to be left alone together. When Elizabeth walks into the drawing room she finds them there alone in earnest conversation. Bingley quickly leaves and Jane tells Elizabeth that she is the happiest woman in the world. Jane then goes to tell her mother, and Bingley, who had gone to speak with Mr. Bennet, returns and receives Elizabeth's congratulations. All are very happy. Bingley now comes to visit Netherfield every day.
Volume III, Chapters 11-13 Analysis:
The events of these few chapters should be of no surprise to the reader, as Austen has provided ample hints to foreshadow their occurrence. The events pass by quickly, and the plot now accelerates to the end, falling naturally from the climax to the conclusion as if by the force of gravity. From the accounts of Bingley when Elizabeth sees him in Derbyshire and from Darcy's letter, the reader is aware that Bingley's affections for Jane have not subsided and that the only reason he did not propose was that Darcy had advised him not to because he believed Jane was indifferent to Bingley. Yet now that Darcy is in love with Elizabeth and knows from Elizabeth that Jane is in love with Bingley, it seems likely that he will now offer Bingley the opposite advice. Bingley's return to Netherfield is obviously for the purpose of seeing Jane again, ascertaining whether or not she still loves him, and proposing if it seems that she does. The obstacles to Bingley and Jane's marriage were merely external ones, and once those obstacles were removed, their union was inevitable.
Darcy's accompanying Bingley to Netherfield likewise seems to have no other object but a chance to renew his offer of marriage to Elizabeth. The obstacles in their relationship are not so easy to overcome, because they are the internal obstacles of pride and prejudice. At this point, however, those obstacles have been mostly overcome. Elizabeth's prejudice has been slowly removed by her reflection on Darcy's letter, and Darcy's treatment of Elizabeth and the Gardiners demonstrates that his pride has been considerably abated as well. All that remains is for the two of them to become aware of each other's changes in attitude and mutual regard for one another.
Volume III, Chapter 14 Summary:
Early the next morning Lady Catherine unexpectedly comes to visit. Lady Catherine is, as usual, domineering and arrogant in her conversation. She tells Elizabeth she would like her company for a walk outside. Lady Catherine tells Elizabeth that she has come because of rumors that Darcy and Elizabeth will soon be married. Elizabeth answers her inquiries curtly and without revealing the fact that Darcy has not proposed to her again. Lady Catherine tries to forbid Elizabeth to marry Mr. Darcy, but Elizabeth is insensible to her entreaties and threats. Lady Catherine is furious and leaves.
Volume III, Chapter 14 Analysis:
Lady Catherine's visit strengthens the readers' suspicions that an engagement between Darcy and Elizabeth is imminent. Ironically, Lady Catherine's attempt to prevent Elizabeth and Darcy's marriage only serves to give hope to Elizabeth of Darcy's continued affection. While Elizabeth is uneasy that Lady Catherine's influence may prevent Darcy's proposal, it is likely that it will only do the opposite by likewise giving him hope of Elizabeth's affection. Lady Catherine thus unwittingly plays the part of facilitating their marriage through her very attempt to prevent it.
Volume III, Chapter 15 Summary:
Her conversation with Lady Catherine throws Elizabeth into a great discomposure of spirits. She is not sure what the cause of Lady Catherine's suspicion is, but she is uneasy about the fact that Lady Catherine will surely try to influence Darcy not to propose.
Mr. Bennet tells Elizabeth that he wants to speak with her and relates to her the contents of a letter from Mr. Collins in which he says that he has heard that Mr. Darcy may propose to Elizabeth and advises Elizabeth not to accept because of Lady Catherine's disapprobation. Mr. Bennet thinks the letter is extremely amusing because he still thinks that Darcy is indifferent to Elizabeth and that Elizabeth hates Darcy.
Volume III, Chapter 15 Analysis:
Mr. Collins' letter and Mr. Bennet's reaction to it is a source of great awkwardness for Elizabeth. She does not want to tell her father about her changed feelings for Mr. Darcy before knowing whether or not he still wants to marry her. The fact that Mr. Bennet and the rest of the family hate Darcy and thinks that Elizabeth hates him as well may make it difficult for them to accept Elizabeth and Darcy's engagement. The letter is, at the same time, a further confirmation for both Elizabeth and the reader that a second proposal from Darcy is imminent.
Volume III, Chapter 16 Summary:
Within a few days Mr. Darcy returns to Netherfield and he and Mr. Bingley come to Longbourn early in the day. Jane, Bingley, Darcy, Elizabeth, and Kitty take a walk. Jane and Bingley lag behind the rest, and eventually Darcy and Elizabeth are left to walk together alone as well. As soon as they are alone Elizabeth expresses to Darcy her gratitude for his assistance in the affair with Wickham and Lydia. Darcy replies that he wishes she had not found out, but adds that what he did was done for Elizabeth's sake. Elizabeth cannot say a word. Darcy tells her that his affections are no different than they were when he proposed, and asks her to tell him if hers are the same as well. Elizabeth informs him that her sentiments have changed and that she will now gladly receive his assurances of continued affection. He is overcome with delight upon hearing this and speaks warmly and fervently about his love. Lady Catherine's attempt to dissuade him from proposing only had the effect of giving him hope by letting him know that Elizabeth was not decided against marrying him.
They speak about the last proposal, both apologizing for their lack of civility. Mr. Darcy had been tortured by Elizabeth's reproof "had you acted in a more gentleman-like manner." This and her other reproofs on that night humbled him and led him to realize his selfishness and conceit. Elizabeth tells Darcy that his letter slowly removed all her former prejudices. When Darcy met Elizabeth at Pemberley, he wanted to show her immediately that he had changed as a result of her just reproofs.
Darcy tells Elizabeth that before leaving for London he had told Bingley that he had been wrong in interfering with Bingley's relationship with Jane and that he was now sure that Jane was really attached to him. This assurance from Darcy gave Bingley the encouragement he needed to make the proposal.
Volume III, Chapter 16 Analysis:
In these last chapters of the novel, all the events that have long been anticipated finally fall into place and Austen ties together the remaining loose strings of the novel.
Darcy's second proposal to Elizabeth and their conversation regarding how much has changed since the first proposal serves to confirm how the obstacles of pride and prejudice have all been removed. Darcy admits to Elizabeth that her reproofs to him in refusing her proposal, particularly her statement, "had you acted in a more gentlemanlike manner," affected him profoundly. With time, he realized that Elizabeth had been right and he began to attempt to change. The source of Darcy's pride, we find, is his upbringing, which taught him to scorn everyone outside of his own circle. He was unable to see his faults himself, but when Elizabeth pointed them out to him, he slowly came to realize that he needed to change. This progression can be seen as an example of Austen's Aristotelian ethics. For Aristotle emphasizes that one of the most important things about friendship is that friends help each other to see and remedy their faults of character.
Further, since Elizabeth's prejudice has been removed by what Darcy revealed to her in his letter and by her new observations of him at Pemberley, observations which were no longer biased by vanity as they had been before. Without these prejudices she sees how complementary their personalities are and how mutually beneficial the marriage would be for each of them. Elizabeth's liveliness of character would counteract his tendency to be overly serious, and his excellent education and superior knowledge of the world would highly beneficial for the improvement of her character as well.
Volume III, Chapter 17 Summary:
At night, when she is finally able to speak with Jane alone, Elizabeth tells her what has happened. Jane is incredulous. But eventually Elizabeth convinces her that she is serious and that she really does love Darcy. Elizabeth explains her reasons for previously concealing her affection, and reveals to Jane what Darcy did for Lydia. Jane is extremely happy for her, and they spend half the night talking.
The next morning Mrs. Bennet is annoyed on seeing that Mr. Darcy has again accompanied Bingley to Longbourn, and suggests that Elizabeth go for a walk with him to keep him out of Jane and Bingley's way. Elizabeth is quite happy to comply. Bingley greets Elizabeth with such warmth that she is sure he knows of her engagement. During their walk Elizabeth and Darcy decide that Darcy will ask Mr. Bennet's consent in the evening and that Elizabeth will speak to her mother.
After Mr. Darcy speaks with Mr. Bennet, Darcy tells Elizabeth that her father wants to speak with her. Mr. Bennet is shocked because he thinks that Elizabeth hates Darcy. After long explanations she assures Mr. Bennet of her affection for him. She also tells him of what Darcy did for Lydia. He is surprised and happy for his daughter.
At night Elizabeth tells her mother of the engagement. Her mother is shocked but extremely happy in thinking of how rich Darcy is. Her former dislike of him is completely forgotten.
The next day her mother acts remarkably well toward Darcy, and her father tries to get to know him better and is pleased with him.
Volume III, Chapter 17 Analysis:
The reactions of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet to the news of Elizabeth's engagement are completely in character. Mr. Bennet wants to be sure that Elizabeth is really marrying for love, knowing that his daughter will be miserable in a marriage if she does not genuinely regard and esteem her husband. He does now want Elizabeth to end up as he did, with a spouse completely unsuited to his personality.
Mrs. Bennet's reaction is of course a happy one. Her desire throughout the novel has been only to get her daughters to be married as quickly as possible. All of her former hatred for Darcy immediately disappears, and she is proud that Elizabeth has managed to capture such an extremely wealthy man. Mrs. Bennet, unlike Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth and Jane, views marriage simply as a means to the acquisition of wealth and material comfort
Volume III, Chapter 18 Summary:
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy converse playfully about how he fell in love with her in the first place and why he took so long to propose the second time. He tells her that his second proposal was all thanks to Lady Catherine, her warning having given him hope of Elizabeth's affection. Elizabeth asks him when he will tell Lady Catherine the news, and he goes off to write to her, while Elizabeth goes to write to Mrs. Gardiner.
Miss Bingley's reactions to Mr. Bingley's engagement to Jane are affectionate and insincere. Miss Darcy's reaction to news of Mr. Darcy's engagement is one of genuine delight.
The Collinses come to stay at Lucas Lodge because Lady Catherine is so angry at the engagement. Darcy deals well with the obsequiousness of Mr. Collins, along with the vulgarity of Mrs. Philips and Mrs. Bennet.
Mrs. Bennet is extremely happy and proud at her daughters' marriages.
Mr. Bennet misses Elizabeth and often goes to visit her at Pemberley.
Bingley and Jane leave Netherfield after a year and move to Derbyshire, because their closeness to Mrs. Bennet and the Meryton relations is too much to bear even for them.
Kitty now spends most of her time with her sisters, and is much improved by their example and society.
Mary stays at home and keeps her mother company on her visits.
Lydia soon writes to Elizabeth to congratulate her and ask her to see if Mr. Darcy will use his money and influence to help Wickham. Elizabeth replies negatively, but does send Lydia money that she saves by economizing in her private expenses.
Miss Bingley drops her resentment of Darcy's marriage because she wants to retain the right of visiting Pemberley.
Georgiana and Elizabeth become very close and very fond of one another.
Relations with Lady Catherine were broken off for a while, but Elizabeth finally convinces Darcy to attempt a reconciliation, and Lady Catherine comes to visit them.
Darcy and Elizabeth are always on intimate terms with the Gardiners, to whom they are grateful for having brought them together.
Volume III, Chapter 18 Analysis:
In the end, Elizabeth and Janethe two characters who are unwilling to compromise their principlesare the ones who end up happiest. Lydia, who gives herself up completely to frivolity and immorality, will have to live with a husband who is deceitful and not really in love with her. Charlotte, who gives in to the temptation of marrying simply for pragmatic financial reasons, will have to bear with the insufferable formality and long-windedness of Mr. Collins for the rest of her life. Ironically, precisely through their refusal to turn marriage into a business transaction, Elizabeth and Jane end up with husbands who are both very wealthy and perfectly suited to their characters.
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