Pride And Prejudice:Why is the news of the elopement of Lydia and Wickham in Chapter 46 such an important moment and how does it affect what follows in the novel?

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Why is the news of the elopement of Lydia and Wickham in Chapter 46 such an important moment and how does it affect what follows in the novel?

A very key moment in the novel is when Elizabeth is informed of the elopement of Lydia and Wickham by two letters from Jane (while she is visiting Pemberley in Chapter 46). The two letters instead of one create more suspense and anticipation. This chapter is very important because that single event changes everything and has far reaching effects on relationships (such as Elizabeth and Darcy, Lydia and Wickham, Jane and Bingley, the Bennet family and its distant relations), attitudes, and the development of characters in the story. It changes the perspective of many characters and the truth behind appearances begins to emerge. Everything in the novel builds up to this decisive moment of crisis where things could go either way; good or bad.

The build up to this chapter is very crucial as Elizabeth and Darcy slowly come closer and are on the most civil terms before the news of the elopement breaks, which makes the situation sadly ironic. Elizabeth goes from rejecting him to having her prejudices lifted when he gives the letter, correcting her misconceptions and finally to respecting him and having a deep gratitude towards him: ‘She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him.’ Darcy even invites her to meet his sister and she begins to start thinking of ‘bringing on the renewal of his address.’ This is why it’s so ironic when the news arrives of Lydia’s scandalous elopement because just when Elizabeth’s feelings reach a new high point for Darcy, she is hit with the realisation that he may never want to be associated with her again: ‘Never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, when all love must be in vain.’

However, Darcy does show great concern for Elizabeth when he arrives unexpectedly during her breakdown; an ironic and dramatic moment as he’s almost like her saviour coming to rescue her. His concern for her is an important factor showing the closeness of the two characters, and so the reader may be contemplating whether to agree with Elizabeth or not, on her opinion that ‘her power was sinking’. When Elizabeth gives him an account of the situation and how ‘nothing can be done’, according to her interpretations, he ‘shook his head in silent acquiescence’ and is seen to be ‘walking up and down the room in earnest meditation, his brow contracted, his air gloomy.’ Elizabeth thinks that this was evidence enough that his feelings are changing. But in fact, she misunderstands his actions which is ironic as she thinks she ‘instantly understood it’.

In fact, Darcy proves her wrong and does help the situation, showing the strength of Darcy’s love for Elizabeth which is the main reason that the elopement accelerates their love affair, instead of completely destroying it. It is ironic how Elizabeth regrets making Mr Darcy ‘acquainted with their fears for her sister’ in earlier chapters, but if he hadn’t known, the situation would have deteriorated. Elizabeth had clearly underestimated him as instead of looking at Elizabeth’s status with scorn, he helps the Bennet’s escape from disgrace. Elizabeth learns about this through Mrs Gardiner’s letter: ‘“He left Derbyshire only one day after ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them.”’ Such a quick reaction meant that he had probably decided his intentions during his and Elizabeth’s unexpected encounter. The elopement acts as a catalyst instead of hindrance as it develops trust, understanding and gratitude between the couple. Elizabeth, of course is grateful for his ‘unexampled kindness’ to her sister but Darcy also has his reasons to thank Elizabeth.
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Darcy’s character is altered by the elopement, and his need to redeem himself before Elizabeth is a major part of how the effects of the elopement managed to take a positive turn for some people. Darcy undergoes a huge change in his behaviour after Elizabeth rejects his proposal as he says: ‘“You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.”’ He views the rejection as a ‘lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous’. His behaviour improves in Pemberley as he’s shown as ‘polite and unassuming’ opposed to the previous ...

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This is an excellent essay indeed, with very few faults. The analysis is conducted with precision and close referencing from the text. Quotations are aptly chosen and integrated smoothly into the flow of the essay. Paragraphing and sentence control are generally very good, with few slips, and lexis is excellent. Technical language of literary analysis is used skillfully and appropriately. 5 stars