Chapters 47 to 50 – Scandal
When the Gardiners and Elizabeth arrive at Longbourn
they are brought up-to-date regarding Lydia’s situation. Mr. Gardiner leaves to join Mr. Bennett in London, the latter retuning soon after, leaving Gardiner to manage the situation.
Jane is running the household because Mrs. Bennett is indisposed in her room
Mr. Bennett regrets not heeding Elizabeth’s warning and resolves to be stricter with Kitty. The whole neighborhood is full of gossip concerning Lydia’s shame, and what the future holds for her. In panic, Mr. Collins writes making useful remarks such as, “the death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison to this.” “This false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?” He advised Mr. Bennett to disown her in order to save the rest of the family.
At last the suspense in the household is released with a letter from Mr.
Gardiner saying the two are to be wed, provided that Wickham’s debts are paid and Lydia receives a yearly stipend. Mr. Bennett agrees, but is now concerned that he will be in debt to Mr. Gardiner who has no
doubt settled Wickham’s bills.
Mrs. Bennett undergoes a transformation from hysterical depression to
exuberance and starts making plans for wedding clothes etc.
Gardiner advises that Wickham has a commission in the north of England, and
only Mrs. Bennett is despondent at the thought of the couple being so far away.
Elizabeth sees no hope of a future with Darcy for he will not wish to marry
into a family of which Wickham is a member.
Austen now deals with a third type of marriage. We have seen the Bennett’s who
don’t like each other very much; the Collins who have a businesslike marriage, and now Lydia and Wickham whose marriage is based on infatuation and lust.