Pride and Prejudice Chapter 42 - 45: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
Chapters 42-45 of 'Pride and Prejudice' cover the summer trip taken by Lizzy and her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. Lydia, meanwhile, is still visiting the regiment in the resort town of Brighton. At the Gardiners' suggestion, they visit Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's home. Lizzy is surprised to encounter Mr. Darcy himself. This leads to a renewed acquaintance, during which Mr. Darcy behaves in a most unexpected way. Lizzy spends a lot of time analyzing her feelings.

Chapter 42: A Change of Plans

This chapter was designed to conclude Volume II of Pride and Prejudice in the novel's original publication. As such, it provides a period of reflection on the book's themes of love and marriage. Lizzy reflects on her parents' unsatisfactory marriage. Although initially attracted to each other, they're anything but compatible. Mrs. Bennet is silly, but that doesn't excuse Mr. Bennet from his 'continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum.'

The rest of the spring passes quietly. Lydia sends short notes to her mother, which are excitedly read aloud. Lydia's much-underlined letters to Kitty remain private. At last, summer arrives. Lizzy's much-anticipated trip with the Gardiners, however, has to be shortened. The Gardiners' business responsibilities won't allow them to be away from London long, so they go to Derbyshire, where Mrs. Gardiner grew up. When they arrive, the Gardiners persuade Lizzy to take a short detour to see Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's home. Lizzy feels awkward about this, but eventually agrees, after learning that none of the Darcys are at home.

Chapter 43: An Unexpected Meeting

Pemberley is really gorgeous. Lizzy is struck by the beautiful views, the tasteful decor of the house... and can't help reflecting that she might have been mistress of Pemberley if she had accepted Mr. Darcy's proposal! She experiences a brief twinge of 'something like regret,' but tells herself that she wouldn't have been allowed to have her beloved aunt and uncle visit, as they're of a social class far beneath that of Mr. Darcy. The housekeeper, though, tells a different tale of her master, praising him as generous and good-natured. Even allowing for the woman's partiality, Lizzy and the Gardiners are surprised by such a favorable report.

As Lizzy and the Gardiners are on the point of leaving, Lizzy runs into Mr. Darcy. He's clearly just arrived (although the wet shirt made famous by Colin Firth does not figure in the book.) He's just as surprised to see Lizzy as she is to see him. They make awkward small talk for a few minutes before he continues into the house. This leaves Lizzy asking herself not only 'Why did we ever come?' but also 'Why was he actually polite?' and 'Does he think I'm creepy for visiting his house?'

Mr. Darcy meets the Gardiners
meeting, brock

Another surprise is in store for Lizzy and the Gardiners. While they walk around Pemberley's grounds (also really gorgeous) Mr. Darcy joins them. Lizzy continues to be super-embarrassed. She looks forward to turning the tables and embarrassing Mr. Darcy by introducing him to the Gardiners, and watching him be uncomfortable because of their inferior social class. Her plan backfires, though. Mr. Darcy continues to be friendly. He even invites Mr. Gardiner to come fishing, and nerds out with him about trout.

Before the Gardiners and Lizzy leave, Mr. Darcy even asks if he can introduce his younger sister to Lizzy. She's due to arrive, with Mr. Bingley and his sisters, the next day. Lizzy agrees, and spends the rest of the day brooding on Mr. Darcy's motives for being weirdly nice. She briefly considers the possibility that he was chastened by her calling him out for pride and arrogance after he proposed marriage to her... but rejects it as unlikely.

Chapter 44: An Interesting Visit

Lizzy is (again!) surprised when Mr. Darcy calls on her and the Gardiners at the inn at which they're staying. With Mr. Darcy is his sister, who has just arrived from London. Lizzy is also nervous: 'more than commonly anxious to please, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing would fail her.' Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner recognize this as a classic symptom of a crush, and watch her interactions with Mr. Darcy with great interest. They conclude that, although Lizzy's feelings may be uncertain, he's definitely in love with her.

Conversation at the inn

Lizzy is nervous about meeting Darcy's sister, Georgiana, in part because she has a local reputation for pride. Lizzy concludes, however, that she's painfully shy, but also sweet. The conversation is enlivened considerably when Mr. Bingley comes to join them. Lizzy is interested to note that there is zero evidence of any attachment between him and Georgiana, to whom he was practically engaged according to his sister. Moreover, he inquires eagerly after all of Lizzy's family. Lizzy concludes that there's hope for Jane yet.

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