Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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Chapters 43–45 Summary

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Chapter 43

Elizabeth is immediately impressed with the beautiful grounds of Pemberley. She thinks being the mistress of such a property might have been incredible before reminding herself that she would not have been allowed to invite people like her dear aunt and uncle to Pemberley. Elizabeth ventures inside the house with them, and Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, gives them a tour. Mrs. Reynolds speaks highly of Mr. Darcy, whom she has known since he was only four, saying that he has never spoken to her crossly and that there isn’t a woman good enough for the “best landlord and the best master that ever lived.” Mrs. Reynolds insists that all of Darcy’s tenants and servants would “give him a good name.” She adds that she has heard some call Darcy proud, but she’s never seen any part of his character which she would classify as pride. 

As the family exits the house, Elizabeth spies Darcy himself walking toward them from the stables. Their eyes meet and Darby approaches, much to Elizabeth’s shock and embarrassment. He inquires politely about her family and her stay in Derbyshire before taking his leave. Elizabeth is “overpowered by shame and vexation” over the encounter and profoundly regrets agreeing to visit Pemberley, but she notices a marked change in Darcy, whose manners are extraordinarily gentle. 

The family meanders through the grounds of Pemberley, and as they prepare to return to their carriage, Darcy approaches once more. Elizabeth introduces him to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and Darcy begins a friendly conversation about fishing with her uncle. Eventually, Mrs. Gardiner takes the arm of her husband as they continue walking, and Darcy returns to Elizabeth. She admits that she had not expected to encounter him on the property, and he acknowledges that business has brought him home sooner than expected. A larger party, including his sister and Bingley, will join him the following day. He asks Elizabeth if he could introduce his sister to her during Elizabeth’s stay in nearby Lambton. Elizabeth agrees, and Darcy helps the ladies into their carriage. As they leave, Mrs. Gardiner reflects that Mr. Darcy was quite unlike how Elizabeth had described him, noting that she did not see anything prideful or disagreeable about him. Elizabeth agrees that she has never seen Darcy quite as agreeable as he had appeared that morning. Feeling obligated to correct their misconception of Darcy, Elizabeth informs the Gardiners that Darcy’s character is not nearly as “faulty” and Wickham’s character is not nearly as “amiable” as she initially led them to believe. As the day ends, Elizabeth can think of nothing else besides the apparent changes in Darcy and his desire for her to be introduced to his sister.

Chapter 44

Mr. Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, arrive in Lambton early the next day. Although Wickham described Georgiana Darcy as proud, Elizabeth soon realizes that the sixteen-year-old is instead quite shy, and though she’s not an avid conversationalist, she has gentle manners. Mr. Bingley soon joins the group and inquires about Elizabeth’s family. Elizabeth works diligently to make herself agreeable to everyone and notes that Bingley seems to reflect frequently on Jane during the conversation, though he avoids mentioning her directly. 

As Elizabeth steals looks at Darcy, she realizes that his change in demeanor has remained. He genuinely seeks the approval and good opinion of her aunt and uncle—the same lowly relations he scorned in his proposal to her. The change is so great that Elizabeth can scarcely contain her astonishment. As the visitors prepare to leave, Mr. Darcy asks his sister to join him in inviting the Gardiners and Elizabeth to Pemberley for dinner. Bingley adds that he hopes to see more of Elizabeth so that he can inquire further about their Hertfordshire friends, and Elizabeth is pleased, considering this evidence of Bingley’s continued interest in Jane. 

After their guests leave, the Gardiners discuss Darcy, having noticed his clear interest in Elizabeth. They are inclined to believe in the opinion of the housekeeper who has known him since he was young. Their friends in Lambton have also conveyed that Darcy is known as a man who helps the poor, while Wickham’s reputation isn’t nearly as favorable; it seems that he left a great many debts when he departed the area, though Darcy repaid those. Meanwhile, Elizabeth realizes that not only is all her hatred toward Darcy gone, but she now feels goodwill and gratitude toward him. She finds that she has a sincere interest in his welfare and happiness and wonders at the extent of her feelings for him. The next morning, Mr. Gardiner leaves after breakfast to join some gentlemen at Pemberley for fishing.

Chapter 45

Elizabeth suspects that her visit to Pemberley will frustrate Caroline Bingley, whose obvious disdain Elizabeth now recognizes as jealousy. Unsurprisingly, when Elizabeth arrives with her aunt, they are greeted with civility by Georgiana Darcy but are met with a much colder reception from Caroline. When Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Darcy return, Caroline watches Darcy’s interactions with Elizabeth closely. Noticing Darcy’s efforts to encourage a warm relationship between his sister and Elizabeth, Caroline brings up the soldiers’ departure from Meryton, commenting that it must be a “great loss” to Elizabeth’s family. Caroline intends to remind Darcy of Elizabeth’s previous favor for Wickham and is unaware that her reference to Wickham causes great distress to Georgiana. After Elizabeth and her aunt depart, Caroline criticizes nearly every aspect of Elizabeth’s features, dress, and manners in an attempt to remind Darcy that there was a time when he did not find Elizabeth so captivating. Much to Caroline’s chagrin, Darcy responds that he only felt that way when he first met Elizabeth and reveals that for many months, he has considered her one of the most beautiful women he knows. 

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Chapters 35–42 Summary


Chapters 46–49 Summary