Chapters 26 and 27 – Wickham exposed?
Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins marry and leave for his parish in Kent.
Elizabeth reluctantly agrees to visit them soon.
In the spring, Elizabeth, Charlotte’s father Sir William, and her sister
Maria, make the trip to Kent, stopping of at London, with the Gardiners. Elizabeth learns that Wickham has been seeing a rich young heiress, Miss King, and Mrs. Gardiner views his actions as fortune
hunting. Surprisingly, Elizabeth comes to Wickham’s defense saying that he has every right to pursue a wealthy bride.
Elizabeth agrees to go with her aunt and uncle on a summer trip to north
The party resumes their trip to Kent.
We are getting clear indications from Austen that
Wickham is not what he seems. He is clearly a philanderer, full of charm, and he hopes to use this to obtain his security.
Up until now, we have been concerned with eligible women seeking security in
marriage. Here we have Wickham doing the same, which in this society was certainly not becoming an officer and a gentleman. Mrs. Gardiner can see this, and makes the correct and unbiased view concerning
his actions, and almost anyone else would agree with her. However, Elizabeth has her own defined views regarding the freedom of the individual regardless of the petty rules of Regency society.
The reader must now think that Elizabeth’s plan to obtain love and happiness
has taken a severe blow.
Perhaps the family may come into some property, which would make her more attractive to Wickham, but is
Wickham good enough for Elizabeth?