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Pride and Prejudice Chapter 26 - 29: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
In Chapters 26-29 of Pride and Prejudice, both Lizzy and Jane cope with romantic disappointments. Their Aunt Gardiner provides relief, having Jane to stay with her. When Lizzy goes to visit her friend Charlotte, now married to Mr. Collins, she meets Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's aunt.

Chapter 26: Crossed in Love

Mr. Bennet quips that 'Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.' For his two elder daughters, however, romantic disappointment is no laughing matter. Their visiting Aunt Gardiner, seeing Lizzy's flirtation with George Wickham, steps in to give advice. The young officer is handsome, charming... and penniless. Aunt Gardiner is worried that her niece might be falling in love with a man who couldn't give her a secure future. She delivers a classic family rebuke: 'You have sense, Lizzy, and we expect you to use it.' Lizzy, despite being attracted, promises to do her best.

Aunt Gardiner takes Jane back with her to London, in hopes that a change of scene will help her get over Mr. Bingley. Poor Jane, however, faces more disappointments. When her supposed friend Caroline Bingley comes to visit, she is not only snobby about the Gardiners' house, but also cruel to Jane. She implies that Mr. Bingley knows Jane is in London yet hasn't bothered to visit or write. Worse, she suggests that he's going to marry Mr. Darcy's sister. Financial considerations have also affected Lizzy's romantic prospects: Wickham has turned his attentions to Miss King, a wealthy heiress. As Lizzy observes to her aunt: 'Handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain.'

Chapter 27: Visits and Plans

George Wickham
Wickham

Chapter 27 bridges time and locations. The first sentence moves the reader from winter to spring. Charlotte Lucas, who has obtained security by marrying the respectable but pompous Mr. Collins, writes to ask Lizzy to visit. This Lizzy does, bidding a fond farewell to Mr. Wickham, 'her model of the amiable and pleasing.' In other words, he's the one that got away. Luckily, Lizzy is sensible enough to take this in stride. She's honest when she tells her aunt that she was never deeply in love with him.

When Lizzy visits the Gardiners (and Jane) in London, she and her aunt have a heart-to-heart about marriage. Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Austen explores the tensions between marriage as a social contract (where questions of income and class come into play) and a romantic ideal (where, ideally, they don't). Aunt Gardiner is miffed on Lizzy's behalf that Wickham is chasing an heiress. And of course, there's Jane to worry about. Does the Bingley family view her as a gold-digging social climber? Does Mr. Bingley feel a need to ally himself with the more prestigious Darcy family, no matter what his own feelings are? As Lizzy reminds her aunt, answers to such questions aren't always clear-cut. Aunt Gardiner suggests that Lizzy join the Gardiners on a summer vacation. Lizzy is delighted, famously exclaiming 'What are men to rocks and mountains?'

Chapter 28: Mr. and Mrs. Collins at Home

Mr. Collins greets his aristocratic neighbor
C.E. Brock illustration

In visiting her good friend Charlotte, Lizzy is pleased at the prospect of travel but worried about what she might find. Charlotte's choice to marry the stupid Mr. Collins has put a strain on her relationship with Lizzy. Lizzy, romantic at heart, is unsettled by Charlotte's readiness to marry for purely practical motives. Worse, she fears that Charlotte won't be happy. What she finds, though, is that Charlotte has made her home comfortable. She encourages Mr. Collins to work in the garden and keeps her own space.

A visit from their aristocratic neighbor, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, occasions great excitement on the Collins' parts. At the news of the prestigious visitor, Lizzy quips 'I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden!' Mr. Collins is typically oblivious to her sarcasm and is overwhelmed when the entire household is invited to dinner with the De Bourghs at Rosings Park.

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