Chapters 51 to 60 – Happy endings
The “happy couple” arrives at Longbourn acting as if
nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
In fact, Lydia is quite smug in having secured a husband in front of all her older sisters. (It is normal custom that daughters married according to age where at all possible).
Wickham seemed less enthusiastic and Elizabeth makes it plain to him that
she is aware of his past, but will accept him into the family.
Some time later, Lydia lets it slip that Darcy was present at her wedding, and so Elizabeth writes to her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, for more information. It was in fact Darcy that had paid off Wickham’s debts and bought him a commission in the army. Mrs. Gardiner tells Elizabeth that his motive for this was his love for Elizabeth.
Lydia and Wickham depart and only Mrs. Bennett is sad to see them go.
Bingley returns to Netherfield and he calls at Longbourn with Darcy.
Although Mrs. Bennett is pleased to see Bingley, she makes Darcy feel uncomfortable. Bingley’s relationship with Jane develops once more and he finally proposes.
Darcy leaves for London, and soon after, Longbourn receives a surprise visit
from Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
She has heard a rumor that Darcy and Elizabeth are about to be engaged. Lady Catherine is mindful of Elizabeth’s previous impertinence and has come to warn Elizabeth off should Darcy propose. There follows a heated debate, “Miss Bennett, you ought to know that I am not to be trifled with '' A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. You are soon to be united with my nephew '' I know it must be a scandalous falsehood.” Elizabeth replies, “If you believed it impossible to be true '' I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far.” Lady Catherine: “I have come at once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted.” Elizabeth responds coolly, “Your coming to Longbourn, to see my and my family will be rather a confirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence.” Despite Lady Catherine’s demands, Elizabeth refuses to promise that she will not accept a proposal of marriage from Darcy. Fuming, Lady Catherine leaves.
Next day, Mr. Bennett receives a letter from Mr. Collins, which no one in
the Bennett household can quite believe – that Darcy may propose to Elizabeth. Remember, the Gardiners are the only ones who know about Elizabeth’s change of heart.
A few days later, Darcy and Bingley arrive at Longbourn.
Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth and they agree to be married.
Mrs. Bennett is at a total loss concerning this new development.
She immediately loses all disdain she had for Darcy, no doubt thinking about the many visits she can have to the Pemberley Estate. She says, “Oh, my dear Lizzie! Pray apologize for my having disliked him so much before. Dear, dear Lizzie! A house in the town! Everything that is charming! Three daughters married! '10,000 a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me? I shall go distracted.”
Mr. Bennett is relieved that Darcy paid off Wickham for he will be under no
obligation to pay the money back.
After the two marriages, life progresses happily for the newly-weds.
Jane and Bingley move closer to Pemberley, and Kitty visits them on a
regular basis, and improves considerably as a consequence.
At Longbourn, Mrs. Bennett continues her outrageous behavior, but is
suitably distanced from Pemberley.
Mary enjoys the situation of having no pretty sisters to compete with her.
Wickham and Lydia continue to spend, spend, and spend.
Elizabeth becomes very close to Miss Darcy, and the Gardiners become close
friends, for they were instrumental in bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together.
Lady Catherine is never reconciled with Elizabeth.
Darcy’s unselfish involvement in Lydia’s marriage was
done out of love for Elizabeth, and this singular action will help bring the couple together.
When Elizabeth discovers this, through Lydia’s incapacity for keeping a secret, she realizes the depth of Darcy’s love for her.
The reader is pleased to see Wickham getting his just deserts, for Lydia
will be a handful for him.
The reader now has a sense of anticipation that Darcy and Elizabeth will get
together, but it comes in an unexpected form, with the intervention of Lady Catherine.
She inadvertently becomes the catalyst that prompts Darcy to propose for a second time. In fact it is not a clear verbal proposal as he asks her if she still has the same feelings for him as when he first proposed. She replies that she has undergone a complete change of heart from that time, and this gives Darcy an overwhelming feeling of joy as the two walks side by side. “They walked on without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects.” They had an understanding.
We have seen various forms of marriage, and the last two are based on not
just love, but also a similarity of feelings and points of view on the world in general, in other words – on compatibility.
In her conversation with Lady Catherine, Elizabeth is shown to be confident
and self-assured. She is in control of the whole conversation, and is able to think on her feet and counter every move that Lady Catherine makes.
At the start of the book, we had the five Bennett girls searching for
husbands. Three have been successful, and two of these have found husbands they can respect and love.
The storylines are brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and Austen gives a
brief illustration of what is in store for the main characters of the book. She presents the reader with what they want - happy endings, and not only has she been successful in keeping the reader’s attention,
but hopefully the reader will go on and read more of her works.