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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 43 (Volume 3, Chapter 1) | Summary

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Summary

When Elizabeth and the Gardiners reach Pemberley, she is amazed by its beauty and size. They talk to some of Darcy's servants. They describe him as a kind master and a pleasure to serve. This information surprises the Gardiners. Although they have never met Darcy, his reputation is that he is an overly proud person. Elizabeth finds herself wondering what her life would have been like as mistress of Pemberley had she accepted Darcy's marriage proposal.

As the Gardiners and Elizabeth explore the grounds of the estate, they are surprised to encounter Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth is caught off guard and embarrassed to be there. Darcy, however, is surprisingly courteous. It turns out he has returned home earlier than planned because he will be receiving guests. He tells the group that he would like them to meet his sister, Georgiana. The Gardiners are struck by his graciousness. Elizabeth is full of wonder at the way things are unfolding.

Analysis

Detailed descriptions of houses and estates are unusual in Pride and Prejudice, so the author's attention to the house and grounds here is significant; they seem to reflect their owner's character. The longtime servants' comments about Darcy's good nature also remind Elizabeth of her hasty judgement of him: "That he was not a good-tempered man had been her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened; she longed to hear more."

After Elizabeth's initial shock at encountering Darcy, she is deeply gratified by his friendly behavior toward the Gardiners. She had fully expected him to snub them, as someone like Lady Catherine surely would have, because Mr. Gardiner is not of the gentry. Mr. Darcy here exemplifies the sort of condescension of which Austen approves. The fact that he wants to introduce his sister suggests that he wishes to see more of Elizabeth.

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