Chapters 50–55 Summary
Mrs. Bennet begins to make plans for Lydia to move into the neighborhood with her new husband, but she cannot think of a nearby house that meets her grand expectations for her daughter. Mr. Bennet interrupts to tell her that Lydia and Wickham are never to enter Longbourn again and that he will not offer Lydia any money for wedding clothes. Mrs. Bennet appears more horrified by this announcement than the actual elopement. Now that the situation has been largely resolved, Elizabeth begins to regret revealing Lydia’s indiscretions to Mr. Darcy. She is quite certain that Darcy could have made her happy, yet she is keenly aware that his proposal—which she would now eagerly accept—is not likely to be repeated in light of Lydia’s scandalous elopement.
Mr. Gardiner writes again to tell Mr. Bennet that Wickham plans to transfer to a new regiment in the north, far away from their area of the country. Colonel Forster has been asked to pay off Wickham’s creditors in Brighton, and Mr. Bennet is asked to pay off the creditors in Meryton. Lydia has also asked to see her family once more before heading north. Mr. Bennet initially denies this request, but Elizabeth and Jane convince him to allow her and Wickham home one final time before she departs for the north.
The newly married Lydia finally arrives at Longbourn with her husband in tow. She is as loud and unabashed as ever, demanding congratulations from each sister. Even Jane is shocked by Lydia’s obliviousness, considering the circumstances. Lydia wonders aloud if people know that she is married, explaining how she’d made sure to take off her glove to show off her ring when she entered town. Elizabeth is so annoyed with her sister’s brazen behavior that she has to leave the room. She returns in time to hear Lydia saying that her sisters must all envy her and that she hopes they can find half of her luck. Lydia tells her mother that when they all come to visit her, a couple of sisters should stay behind so that she can find husbands for them. Elizabeth responds that she doesn’t especially like the way Lydia finds husbands.
After observing the new couple, Elizabeth is certain that Wickham’s affections toward Lydia do not equal her sister’s toward him. Lydia asks whether Elizabeth wants to hear about her wedding, and Elizabeth replies that she believes that “there cannot be too little said on the subject.” Lydia proceeds to give her all the details anyway and happens to mention that Mr. Darcy was there. Elizabeth is astounded, and Lydia, realizing she has let something slip, explains that it was supposed to be a secret and she can speak of it no further. Elizabeth is burning with curiosity as to why Darcy should have been present at Lydia and Wickham’s wedding, and she decides to write to her aunt to determine how this came to be.
Elizabeth receives a reply from Mrs. Gardiner , who says she found Mr. Darcy and her husband in a meeting upon her return from Longbourn. Darcy was distressed about Lydia’s situation and believed himself to be responsible, as he had failed to make Wickham’s deceptive nature known to the community. Trying to remedy an evil which he believed he had caused, Darcy tracked Wickham and Lydia down. He tried to convince Lydia to return home, she was determined to remain with Wickham. Darcy then met with Wickham multiple times to determine how to settle the situation. Wickham had at first requested an unreasonable amount of money to marry Lydia, but eventually Darcy negotiated him to a reasonable sum, which he paid Wickham himself. Darcy wished his involvement to remain unknown, and so he convinced Mr. Gardiner to take the credit for finding the couple and resolving the matter. Mrs. Gardiner writes that Elizabeth’s letter—and apparent discovery of Mr. Darcy’s involvement—has pleased Mr. Gardiner, who wishes to give praise where it is due and not take undeserved credit. In the end, Darcy settled over a thousand pounds...
(The entire section is 1,471 words.)