Pride and Prejudice Chapters 44-49 Summary

In Chapter 44, Darcy visits Elizabeth and the Gardiners at their inn. He brings his sister, Georgiana with him. Georgiana is quiet and incredibly shy, but takes a liking to Elizabeth. A bit later, Bingley arrives at the inn also. Darcy then invites Elizabeth and the Gardiners to dine with him at Pemberley. So, the next day, Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner go to meet with Georgiana, running into Bingley's sisters. Caroline Bingley is as spiteful as ever, making rude comments to Elizabeth about her family. Even after Elizabeth leaves, Caroline Bingley tries to be rude about Elizabeth to Darcy. However, Darcy will hear none of it because he finds Elizabeth as captivating as ever.

Returning to her inn, Elizabeth finds two letters from Jane, and they convey some disturbing information. Lydia has very run away with Wickham and is nowhere to be found. Elizabeth is shocked, unable to recall noticing any kind of affection or interest between the two of them. The Bennet family is desperate to make sure that Lydia and Wickham get married. If she does not, Lydia's reputation as well as that of the entire family will be ruined. With all the girl's future hanging in the balance, this is quite a selfish deed Lydia has committed.

Elizabeth hurries off to tell the Gardiners the news and, along her way, she runs into Darcy. She tells Darcy everything. He blames himself for Lydia's poor decision, feeling he could have prevented Wickham's behavior if he had exposed his past. However, Elizabeth also believes herself to be at fault for the very same reason. On this note, they part ways.

In light of recent news, Elizabeth and the Gardiners hurry home. Though the Gardiners try to assure Elizabeth that Wickham must marry Lydia or risk his own reputation, she does not feel so confident. She tells the Gardiners about Wickham's past, though she does not name Darcy as her source.

When they arrive home, Elizabeth finds out that her father has gone to London to try to find Lydia and Wickham. Mrs. Bennet, meanwhile, is in hysterics. She blames Colonel Forster and his wife for not watching after Lydia more carefully. She little realizes, of course, that she is also to blame for not instilling her daughter with a better sense of right and wrong. Jane tries to reassure Elizabeth that there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent this.

Soon, Mr. Gardiner heads to London as well in order to help Mr. Bennet. He writes a letter back saying that they are now going from hotel to hotel in London, in a desperate attempt to find Lydia and Wickham. However, subsequent letters report that they have been unable to find Lydia and Wickham. Mr. Bennet plans on returning home soon.

After Mr. Bennet returns, they receive a letter from Mr. Gardiner two days letter. Wickham has been found, and he has agreed to marry Lydia, as long as the Bennets guarantee that he will receive a small income. Mr. Bennet agrees, happy to prevent the ruin of his family even if it means he must pay for it. Meanwhile, the Bennets feel that they must have the Gardiners to thank for the impending wedding. They all realize that Wickham would not be so eager to marry Lydia with as little money as she has.

Mrs. Bennet, regardless of the circumstances, is delighted to have one of her daughters married at last. Jane, Elizabeth, and Mr. Bennet are annoyed by this, pointing out the error in Lydia's way. Mrs. Bennet is furthermore furious when her husband refuses to allow Lydia to visit or to provide her money for new clothes.

This section marks the major crisis in the novel with Lydia's running away with Wickham. As is typical of Lydia, she does not consider the long-term scope of her actions. She selfishly never thinks about how her actions could affect her and her family if Wickham decides not to marry her. If she had not married Wickham, it is likely she would never find a husband for herself. Her sisters would be in a similar situation, and their futures would be very bleak.

Here also, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's lax parenting comes to a head. In previous chapters, Elizabeth had warned Mr. Bennet against letting Lydia run off to Brighton. And, ultimately, Elizabeth's fears that Lydia would do something irresponsible came true. Elizabeth seems to have known Lydia better than her own father.

In additional, Mrs. Bennet's reaction to Lydia's marriage highlights her bad parenting as well. When they receive new of Lydia's marriage, Mrs. Bennet actually celebrates. She seems to completely forget the scandalous and dangerous events that brought the marriage about. She think that, because Lydia has secured a husband, she is beyond reproach. She even wants to reward Lydia for her behavior by giving her new clothes and a warm welcome home. Her actions in this section showcase her negligence as a parent and her backwards priorities.

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