Chapters 35–42 Summary
While out on a walk the next morning, Elizabeth is approached by Mr. Darcy, who hands her a letter and asks her to read it before walking away. The tone of Darcy’s letter differs greatly from the tone of his proposal, and he begins by conveying a need to address the two accusations made against him. First, Darcy explains that while he did convince Mr. Bingley to leave Jane, he only did so because he was convinced that Jane did not love Bingley as Bingley loved her. Darcy apologizes, acknowledging that Elizabeth understands Jane’s true emotions far better than he could but writes that he believed Jane completely “indifferent” to Bingley after observing her at the Netherfield ball. His other objection to the match, he explains, was not Jane’s lack of connections but the impropriety often displayed by Elizabeth’s parents and younger sisters. He adds that he doesn’t wish to hurt Elizabeth but that he must be honest about the way her family represents themselves.
He then proceeds to address Elizabeth’s charges regarding Mr. Wickham. Darcy writes that his father was indeed fond of Wickham and supported him through school, even providing for his education at Cambridge. After Darcy’s father died, Wickham came to Darcy asking for three thousand pounds (triple the legacy provided to him) to study law. Darcy had serious doubts about the truthfulness of Wickham’s request but nonetheless provided him with the money. Wickham soon wasted the money away and then returned to Darcy to request more. When Darcy refused, Wickham became resentful and turned his attention to Georgiana Darcy, convincing her to secretly elope with him when she was only fifteen. Overcome with guilt at the last second, Georgiana confessed everything to her brother, who, realizing Wickham was after Georgiana’s inheritance of thirty thousand pounds, immediately separated them. In an effort to preserve his sister’s reputation, Darcy was forced to keep the entire situation as quiet as possible. He invites Elizabeth to corroborate the story with Colonel Fitzwilliam to verify the truth of his claims.
Reading the letter over and over, Elizabeth desperately tries to make sense of the two conflicting stories of Wickham’s character. She ultimately comes to realize that she allowed herself to be flattered by Wickham’s attention, and this shaded her judgement of him. She realizes now that it was odd for him to share such personal details with her about Mr. Darcy when they were little more than strangers. In retrospect, she also begins to see how Wickham’s words and actions have not always aligned. She is sure that Colonel Fitzwilliam will support Darcy’s claims, as she has come to deeply trust the colonel’s character. Realizing she has been duped, Elizabeth is flooded with shame to think how severely she has misjudged both Wickham and Darcy. Elizabeth then considers Darcy’s explanation for his intrusion into Jane and Mr. Bingley’s relationship. She remembers Charlotte’s worries that Jane appeared too reserved in her affections toward Bingley, and Elizabeth herself can recall only a few times when Jane’s feelings for him were clearly on display. When she returns to the parsonage, Elizabeth learns that Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam stopped by to see her while she was out but have since departed.
Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave Rosings the next morning, and Lady Catherine insists that the Collinses and guests join her for dinner. At dinner, she tries to persuade Elizabeth to stay for a few more weeks, but Elizabeth insists that she is needed at home. When Lady Catherine declares that her mother can spare her for a bit longer, Elizabeth replies that her father cannot. “Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father,” Lady Catherine assures her, but Elizabeth insists on adhering to her original plan. Resigned, Lady Catherine discusses their departure, insisting that the ladies travel with manservants to...
(The entire section is 1,430 words.)