Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

Chapters 35–42

Summary Chapters 35–42

Summary: Chapters 35–36

The following day, Elizabeth takes a walk and runs into Darcy, who gives her a letter. He walks away, and Elizabeth begins to read it. In the letter, Darcy again admits to attempting to break Bingley’s romance with Jane, but he defends himself by arguing that Jane’s attachment to his friend was not yet strong enough to lead to heartbreak. He adds that he did not wish Bingley to involve himself with the social encumbrance of marrying into the Bennet family, with its lack of both wealth and propriety. In relation to Wickham, the letter states that Darcy did provide for him after his father’s death and that the root of their quarrel lay in an attempt by Wickham to elope with Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, in the hopes of obtaining her fortune.

Elizabeth is stunned by this revelation, and while she dismisses some of what Darcy says about Jane and Bingley, his account of Wickham’s doings causes her to reappraise the officer and decide that she was probably wrong to trust him. Her feelings toward Darcy suddenly enter into flux.

Summary: Chapters 37–39

Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave Rosings. A week later, Elizabeth departs the parsonage, despite Lady Catherine’s insistence that she stay another two weeks. Before Elizabeth leaves, Mr. Collins informs her that he and Charlotte seem to be made for one another (which is clearly not true). He wishes Elizabeth the same happiness in marriage that he himself enjoys.

After a short stay at the Gardiners’s London house, Elizabeth, joined by Jane, returns home. The two are met by Catherine and Lydia, who talk of nothing but the soldiers as they ride home in their father’s coach. The regiment is to be sent to Brighton for the summer, and the two girls are hoping to convince their parents to summer there also. In the course of the conversation, Lydia mentions, with some satisfaction, that Wickham is no longer interested in Miss King, who has gone to Liverpool to stay with her uncle.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet welcome their daughters home, and the Lucases come for dinner. Lydia prattles about the exciting coach ride and insists that the girls go to Meryton to see the officers. Not wanting to see Wickham, Elizabeth refuses.

Summary: Chapters 40–42

Elizabeth tells Jane the truth about Wickham. They debate whether to expose him publicly, ultimately deciding against it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet continues to bemoan the loss of Mr. Bingley as a husband for Jane and voices her displeasure at the happy marriage of Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Lydia is invited to spend the summer in Brighton by the wife of a Colonel Forster. Mr. Bennet allows her to go, assuming that the colonel will keep her out of trouble.