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Pride and Prejudice | Chapter 52 (Volume 3, Chapter 10) | Summary

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Summary

Mrs. Gardiner replies quickly, writing a long letter to Elizabeth. She explains that it was actually Darcy who located Lydia and Wickham. In addition, Darcy paid Wickham to marry Lydia, paid off Wickham's debts, and bought him a new military commission. She tells Elizabeth to keep this information a secret, as Darcy does not want the information to be made public. Her letter stresses that she believes that Darcy's heroic rescue of the situation reflects his true love for Elizabeth. His action to remedy a potentially disgraceful situation is his way of proving his devotion to her and respect for her family. Elizabeth wonders whether her aunt's assessment is correct. After reading the letter in the garden, she runs into Wickham; he seems anxious to find out what she now knows about him, but Elizabeth does her best to keep the conversation light and friendly.

Analysis

Elizabeth continues to struggle with the insecurity and uncertainty she has felt since Lydia's elopement. The theme of pride undergoes an interesting development. Elizabeth feels personally humiliated but grateful to Darcy: "For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him." Pride here—for another, rather than for oneself—seems to be a very good thing.

Elizabeth's handling of the conversation with Wickham again shows her composure and her dedication to family. As shown in these last chapters, family is extremely important in Austen's world.

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