Pride and Prejudice Questions and Answers
by Jane Austen

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What contradictory information does Elizabeth receive from Mr. Darcy's housekeeper in Pride and Prejudice?

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Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper that Elizabeth Bennett and the Gardiners encounter when they visit Darcy's estate, Pemberley, has known Darcy since he was an infant. The information she gives is not "contradictory" in the sense of internally inconsistent but rather contradicts the account of Darcy given by the evil Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth's own prejudices and superficial impressions. The housekeeper's credibility is emphasized by her statement:

"I say no more than the truth, and what every body will say that knows him,'' replied [Mrs. Reynolds] ... "I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old.''

First, the housekeeper asserts that Darcy is an excellent master and well-loved by his servants and tenants, being both fair and generous. Next, she shows that he is a kind brother to his sister, taking great responsibility for her happiness in his role as her caretaker after their parents' death. 

He is shown as kind and "affable" to the poor and a person who takes his responsibilities seriously. What some people might see as pride, according to Mrs. Reynolds, is more a matter of a strong sense of duty and a certain degree of reserve. 

 

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