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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 36 (Volume 2, Chapter 13) | Summary

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Summary

Elizabeth rereads the letter, trying to make sense of all she has learned. She is angered by Darcy's claims about Jane not returning Bingham's feelings and his continued insistence on her family's unworthiness, based not only on their small fortune but on the behavior of Mrs. Bennet and the younger Bennet sisters. But she believes Darcy's account of Wickham and also feels as if her own behavior toward him might have been misguided. When she returns to the Collins home, she learns that Darcy and the Colonel have left. All she can think about is the content of the letter.

Analysis

Elizabeth now sees clearly how Wickham's words and behavior fit the role of someone who is hiding a dark secret. In contrast, nothing in Darcy's words or behavior, however tactless they may sometimes seem, paint him as anything but scrupulously honest and honorable. The fact that he is admired by Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam supports this assessment, pointing to the importance of reputation and connections in Austen's world. The fact that Wickham is something of a loner should have been a red flag for Elizabeth. Once again, her prejudice let her down.

These realizations are an enormous admission for Elizabeth, who prides herself on her judgement of character. Nonetheless, she is able to admit to her own blindness. This is a critical step in Elizabeth's development as a character.

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