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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 41 (Volume 2, Chapter 18) | Summary

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Summary

Lydia is surprised to receive a letter from Mrs. Forster, the wife of a colonel in the regiment soon departing for Brighton. She invites Lydia to spend the summer with her in Brighton. Elizabeth is deeply worried that her immature sister will get into serious trouble. She tries to persuade her father not to let Lydia go. Mr. Bennet, however, thinks independence will help her mature and that the Forsters will supervise her. As preparations for the militia's departure are underway, Elizabeth sees Wickham. She coldly reveals that she knows the truth about his past.

Analysis

The decision to allow Lydia to go to Brighton represents a critical turning point in the novel. Mr. Bennet's refusal to take Elizabeth's concerns seriously reveals a character flaw. Damage to the family's reputation could affect every member. A more responsible parent would be deeply concerned about the possibility of injuring that reputation, especially a family with so many daughters to marry off. And Austen's readers would know that Brighton was probably the least wholesome destination in England—a resort town where the Prince Regent is known to entertain mistresses. Still, Elizabeth's unwillingness to share what she knows about Wickham, who will also be stationed in Brighton, makes it more difficult for her to persuade her father.

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