Pride and Prejudice: Novel Summary: Chapters 53-56

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Chapter 53: Lydia and Wickham leave Longbourn for the North, and Mrs. Bennet finds out that Bingley is intending to visit Netherfield for a few weeks.  Jane is concerned that everyone will be talking about her and Bingley, and she is determined to show them that she can be friends with him.  Mrs. Bennet, paralleling the beginning of the book, tells Mr. Bennet that he must call on Bingley as soon as he arrives, and when he refuses, says that she will invite him to dinner nonetheless.  When Bingley arrives, he rides to Longbourn, and Mrs. Bennet is sorry to see that Mr. Darcy is with him.  Both Jane and Elizabeth are uncomfortable, and Mrs. Bennet says that she will be civil to Darcy only for Bingley's sake.  During the visit, Bingley speaks more and more to Jane, and Darcy hardly speaks, making Elizabeth wonder why he has come at all.
Chapter 54: Darcy and Bingley come to dinner on Tuesday, and Jane is determined that she and Bingley be seen as "indifferent acquaintances," as she does not want to gain any hopes from his coming.  Mrs. Bennet however, had renewed all of her hopes for marrying Jane to him.  Elizabeth notes that Bingley sits by Jane at dinner and shows much admiration of her, and while she is anxious to converse with Darcy, she does not get a chance that night, and he seems to show little interest in her.  After the guests have left, Jane tells Elizabeth that she has no hopes for her and Bingley, and Elizabeth tells her that if she persists in indifference, not to make her her confidante.
Chapter 55: A few days later Bingley calls again, this time alone, as Darcy has had to return to London for a few days.  When he comes to dinner Mrs. Bennet does all she can to try to get Bingley and Jane alone together, and both Jane and Elizabeth are embarrassed by her obvious attempts.  On his second visit, Mrs. Bennet succeeds, and when Elizabeth returns to the drawing room after the couple's time alone, she finds that they have become engaged.  Jane goes to tell her mother, and Bingley goes to talk to Mr. Bennet.  Mr. Bennet is happy with the match, and Bingley becomes a daily visitor to Longbourn.  Word of the engagement is spread, and soon all of the neighbors are jealous, whereas before they had thought the Bennets unlucky because of the business with Lydia.
Chapter 56: About a week after Jane and Bingley's engagement, Lady Catherine makes a surprise visit to Longbourn.  She asks Elizabeth to take a walk with her, and proceeds to tell her that she is alarmed by the rumors that she is to marry her nephew Darcy.  She insists on having the rumor contradicted, as she does not approve of the match because of the inferiority of Elizabeth's family.  Elizabeth talks around Lady Catherine's questions, and Lady Catherine finds her impertinent, and insists that she speak to her frankly.  Lady Catherine says that Darcy and her daughter are destined for each other, and demands to know if Elizabeth means to marry Darcy.  Elizabeth asks how she could be engaged to Darcy if he is engaged to Miss De Bourgh.  Lady Catherine gets increasingly irritated, and Elizabeth finally tells her that she is not engaged to Darcy.  Lady Catherine seems relieved by this, but when she asks Elizabeth to promise that she will never enter into such an engagement, Elizabeth refuses.  Lady Catherine leaves angrily, saying that she will continue to make sure that she and Darcy are not married.

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