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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 25 (Volume 2, Chapter 2) | Summary

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Summary

Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Bennet's brother and sister-in-law, arrive at Longbourn for the Christmas holidays. Mrs. Gardiner discusses Jane's heartbreak with Elizabeth, who claims that Bingley was "violently in love with" Jane a few days before abandoning her. Mrs. Gardiner responds, "But that expression 'violently in love' is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise from an half-hour's acquaintance, as to a real, strong attachment." She offers to host Jane in London as a diversion. It is not likely they will encounter Bingley there, as they have different social circles. Jane agrees to go, still hoping she will see Bingley.

Mrs. Gardiner notices that Elizabeth and Wickham seem to be interested in each other. She knows the family from Derbyshire. She does not think that the relationship is serious. When Wickham tells Mrs. Gardiner about his past dealings with Darcy, she agrees that he is a very proud man and rather disagreeable. She also advises her niece Elizabeth to be cautious about being involved with Wickham, as neither of them have much money.

Analysis

Mr. Gardiner is a positive example of the new kind of wealth made possible by the industrial revolution. Austen contrasts him with the Bingley sisters and their snobbery: "The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his warehouses, could have been so well- bred and agreeable." Austen's irony is searing, as the Bingleys' father made his fortune in trade as well.

Mrs. Gardiner proves a mature and compassionate mentor in matters of the heart. Her dubious reaction to the phrase "violently in love" (which Collins also used in proposing to Elizabeth) seems to reveal Austen's own attitudes about rapidly formed romantic attachments.

Over the remainder of the novel, the Gardiners play a positive role in the lives of Jane, Elizabeth, and Lydia. In fact, they may be considered as surrogate parents in many ways, more engaged, levelheaded, and grounded than Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.

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