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Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
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I want a short note on the Lydia-Wickham episode in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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Without proper parental supervision, Lydia grows into a flirtatious and egotistical young woman. She is, in today's language, "boy crazy" and indiscriminate in her affections. Lacking social sophistication, she marks herself as an easy target, especially to the military men who are stationed near her home.

When Lydia goes to...

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Without proper parental supervision, Lydia grows into a flirtatious and egotistical young woman. She is, in today's language, "boy crazy" and indiscriminate in her affections. Lacking social sophistication, she marks herself as an easy target, especially to the military men who are stationed near her home.

When Lydia goes to Brighton to be near the regiment, she is even less able to regulate her impulses than when she is among her sisters. It is not surprising that she falls prey to Wickham's devices, seemingly eloping but not marrying until Darcy intervenes.

This episode occurs just as Elizabeth and Darcy are seemingly reconciling. Elizabeth is appreciating Darcy's superiority in taste and status, as she failed to do at Netherfield. Austen seems to include this difficult interlude not only to extend the drama of the novel (or to show how beneficent Darcy is) but also to offer a greater appreciation of the marriage Elizabeth and Darcy achieve. Lydia is one example of the dangers that await women without wealth who fail to act with caution. Elizabeth's appreciation of Darcy is not based on the sentiment that drives many movie versions of the novel but on a deeply felt respect for what it means for him to associate himself with her family.

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Assuming you are talking about the elopement of Wickham and Lydia, this is what happened. Lydia is basically a very thoughtless creature who fantasizes about being married and wants to marry an officer in uniform. Wickham is an immoral, irresponsible, and equally worthless individual who takes advantage of her looseness and elopes with her as part of his being an adventurer. In the end, Mr. Gardiner, the person in charge of Lydia at the time she was staying there, finally finds them, and they are married off thanks to money that was actually given by Darcy to secure a dowry and try and save her reputation.

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