“Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider the matter as absolutely settled. You will have a charming mother-in-law, indeed, and of course she will be always at Pemberley with you.”
Here, Miss Bingley speaks with Mr. Darcy at a dance at the Lucas house. Mr. Darcy has just admitted to her that he is attracted to Elizabeth Bennet, even though she has refused to dance with him. Upon hearing this, Miss Bingley immediately jumps to marriage, which causes Mr. Darcy to observe, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid.” This is the reader’s first hint that Mr. Darcy’s future wife will become the mistress of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s grand estate.
“I am astonished,” said Miss Bingley, “that my father should have left so small a collection of books.—What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”
While visiting her ill sister, Jane, at the Bingley household, Elizabeth spends some time in discourse with Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy. As the topic turns to reading and books, readers learn that Mr. Darcy’s home at Pemberley has an abundant library. Since eloquence and refinement are qualities that pull Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth close, this revelation is significant. Both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are readers, and they both enjoy verbal sparring. Pemberley is accumulating meaning in the novel, not just as Mr. Darcy’s home but as a symbol of generations of wealth, elegance, and education.
Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it. She must own that she was tired of great houses; after going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or satin curtains . . . The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful!
Elizabeth has been invited by her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, to take a trip to the lakes region, but their plans change and they go no farther north than Derbyshire, which is near Pemberley. After Mrs. Gardiner suggests that they visit Mr. Darcy’s estate, Elizabeth feels horrified at the prospect of meeting the man she despises. Later, a chambermaid assures her that the family is away for the summer, and Elizabeth is relieved. Volume Two ends with the sentence “To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go,” an understatement considering the novel’s ending. Again, the Pemberley estate symbolizes Elizabeth’s happy destiny and the embodiment of the love she will share with Mr. Darcy.
They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; —and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
Here, readers experience Elizabeth’s first view and impression of the estate that eventually becomes her home, and, as such, Pemberley accumulates even more symbolic import. Like the estate’s owner, Pemberley is not ostentatious but elegant, not embellished but natural, and elevated, or located on a high ridge. Pemberley is handsome and solid, and for the first time, Elizabeth imagines herself living there.
“My dearest sister, now be serious. I want to talk very seriously. Let me know every thing that I am to know, without delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him?”
“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.”
Here, Elizabeth talks to Jane about her feelings for Mr. Darcy. Earlier that day, Mr. Darcy admitted to Elizabeth that he loves her still, and she, in reply, admitted to him that her feelings have changed and that she loves him, too. Upon hearing this news, Jane is delighted and asks how Elizabeth’s love for Mr. Darcy developed. Elizabeth’s answer underlines the fact that being at Pemberley was the turning point. The estate, the symbol of the man, had won her heart.