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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 26 (Volume 2, Chapter 3) | Summary

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Summary

As the Gardiners' visit to Longbourn draws to a close, Mrs. Gardiner cautions Elizabeth to steer clear of Wickham, as he has no fortune; Elizabeth reluctantly agrees with her. Charlotte visits on the eve of her wedding to Collins and begs Elizabeth to visit her at the rectory, to which Elizabeth also reluctantly agrees.

Jane travels back to London with the Gardiners. There, Jane has an unpleasant visit from Caroline Bingley, which she describes in a letter to Elizabeth. Jane says she is resigned to the fact that Bingley is not going to pursue a relationship with her. Elizabeth feels relief that at least Jane has closure on this situation and no longer labors under the delusion that Caroline is a good friend.

In a letter, Elizabeth updates her aunt on the Wickham situation. It seems he has redirected his affections toward a young Miss King, who recently inherited a fortune. Elizabeth rather easily distances herself from Wickham, whom she does not love. She harbors no bad feelings about the reason for his change of heart: "Handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain."

Analysis

Mrs. Gardiner's levelheaded advice about Wickham contrasts with the advice Elizabeth received from her father, who jokingly suggested she pursue Wickham if only to experience heartbreak.

Jane's letter shows how extraordinarily good-hearted, even naïve, she is. Although she senses Caroline's duplicity, Jane chalks it up to a sisterly anxiety for her brother's happiness. Elizabeth, in contrast, is so angry with the Bingleys that she half hopes Charles Bingley becomes unhappily married to Darcy's sister.

Elizabeth's forgiveness of Wickham's blatant gold digging seems contradictory given her strong disapproval of Charlotte's bid for security in marrying Mr. Collins.

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