Pride and Prejudice Chapter 30 - 33: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
In Chapters 30-33 of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy's stay with Charlotte and Mr. Collins is enlivened by a visit from Mr. Darcy - and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam - to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Lizzy is charmed by Colonel Fitzwilliam but learns something disturbing about Mr. Bingley's mysterious behavior towards Jane.

Chapter 30: Hunsford and Rosings

Lady Catherine scolds her tenants

Chapter 30 of Pride and Prejudice illustrates what a great friend Lizzy is to Charlotte. For Charlotte's sake, Lizzy stays at the Hunsford parsonage for weeks, tolerating both Mr. Collins and the arrogant Lady Catherine. Whenever Lady Catherine stops in at Hunsford, she comes with a stream of critical commentary. This isn't because Charlotte is a lazy housekeeper; it's simply Lady Catherine's way with everyone. Austen pokes fun at Lady Catherine's methods of fulfilling her social obligations to look after her tenants: she scolds them about not being sufficiently prosperous and happy.

Fortunately for Lizzy and Charlotte, Lady Catherine's nephews come to stay with her at Rosings Park for Easter. Lizzy, of course, would rather see anyone than Mr. Darcy, but at least he's a new face. He brings with him his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, who turns out to be much more charming 'in person and address most perfectly the gentleman.' When both of them come to Hunsford the day after their arrival, Charlotte suspects that the early visit is in Lizzy's honor. Lizzy herself can't resist asking Mr. Darcy if he happened to see Jane while they were both in London, though she knows he didn't.

Chapter 31: Music and Conversation

During a social evening at Rosings Park, Lizzy and Fitzwilliam instantly hit it off, conversing so animatedly that they attract everyone else's attention. Lady Catherine demands to know what they are talking about. The subject of music leads to a monologue on how she and her daughter could have been brilliant musicians if they had wanted. She then offers that Lizzy come over and practice in the housekeeper's quarters, where she wouldn't be in the way. Darcy, to give him credit, is embarrassed by his aunt's rudeness. This is a small but crucial moment where we notice a distinction between Darcy's pride and Lady Catherine's arrogance.

Fitzwilliam, Lizzy, and Darcy

Mr. Darcy comes over to hear Lizzy play the piano, and she immediately starts teasing him. Lizzy quips that though he may loom over her, and though his sister may play superbly, 'My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me!' This is, in fact, one of the truest things about Lizzy, guiding her actions throughout the novel. Darcy, surprisingly, teases her right back. Although the tone of their conversation is light, their subject is significant. Bantering, they discuss the differences between reputation, rumor, and reality, differences shaping both their relationship and the plot of the novel as a whole.

Chapter 32: A Strange Visit

The day after this conversation, Lizzy is on her own at Hunsford, while Charlotte runs errands. When a visitor arrives, she expects it's Lady Catherine, and is shocked when Mr. Darcy enters instead. For an unmarried man to call on an unmarried woman was most unusual in this period and usually carried romantic significance. Mr. Darcy explains that he expected to find Charlotte at home too.

Lizzy rescues them both from an awkward silence. In answer to her questions, Mr. Darcy says he thinks it unlikely Mr. Bingley will return permanently to Netherfield (bad news for the neighborhood and Jane). He then opens the subject of Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins and the distance from her family. Lizzy points out that not everyone has his money for traveling but concedes that one could settle too near one's parents after moving out. Darcy suggests she might feel this way herself. Lizzy is taken aback by the question, and so, apparently, is he, as he changes the subject.

When Charlotte returns, she instantly surmises that Darcy visited with romantic intentions. Lizzy corrects her, saying that their conversation consisted of no flirtation and a lot of awkward silences. This isn't the only possible interpretation, though, and Charlotte continues to meditate on this. It would be a good thing for Lizzy, she thinks, to marry either of Lady Catherine's nephews. It would also benefit her and Mr. Collins, who would thus be even more closely connected to a powerful family.

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