Pride and Prejudice: Novel Summary: Chapters 33-36
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Chapter 33: More than once Elizabeth has unexpectedly met Mr. Darcy in the park. She has told him that she often walks there, so she does not understand why he continues to go there. While she is walking this time though, she meets Colonel Fitzwilliam. They begin to walk and converse, and when the subject of Miss Darcy arises, Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth that he is joined in the guardianship of her with Darcy. When Elizabeth asks if such a young lady is difficult to manage, Fitzwilliam looks at her earnestly, and Elizabeth thinks that she had somehow got near the truth. The conversation turns to Darcy's friendship with Bingley, and Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth that it seems that Bingley is in debt to Darcy for getting him out of an imprudent marriage. While he says that he is not sure it is Bingley, he says that he understands that there were "some very strong objections against the lady," and Darcy congratulates himself on getting Bingley away from her. Elizabeth is quite sure that Fitzwilliam is speaking of Jane and Bingley, as she cannot believe that Darcy could have so much influence over two men. When she is again at home, her agitation and tears bring on a headache, and she does not join the others for a visit to Lady Catherine's.
Chapter 34: Elizabeth is surprised by a visit from Darcy while the others are at Lady Catherine's. Darcy shocks Elizabeth by telling her that he admires and loves her and wishes her to marry him. He speaks of how he has tried to fight his love for her because of her and her family's inferiority, and Elizabeth can see that he has no doubt that she will accept his hand. He is quite amazed when instead she does not accept, and says that she is not only offended by the speech he has just made, but that she has other reasons for declining his offer, such as how he had treated Jane and Wickham. Darcy admits to separating Bingley and Jane and rejoicing in his success at it, and he speaks with contempt of Wickham. Darcy angrily accuses Elizabeth of not being able to overlook these offenses because her pride was hurt by his speech about her family's inferiority, and Elizabeth states that the only thing those declarations did was spare her any concern she may have in refusing him. He is astonished when she says that he "could not have made [her] the offer of [his] hand in any possible way that would have tempted [her] to accept." Darcy asks Elizabeth to accept his best wishes for her health and happiness and quickly leaves the house.
Chapter 35: The next day Elizabeth cannot think of anything else but what had happened the night before. She decides to take a walk, and when she hears Darcy calling her, she tries to avoid him. When he catches up to her, he gives her a letter, asking her to read it. The letter starts by saying that Elizabeth need not worry about him trying to renew any of his offers, but that he feels that he should explain the circumstances around the two accusations she made against him.
In reference to his talking Bingley into leaving Netherfield, he states that he had seen Bingley in love many times before, and that he did not realize how serious this relationship was until the ball when he heard Sir William and others speaking of how they expected a marriage. He then observed Bingley and Jane closer, and while he saw that Bingley was clearly affected by Jane, he thought Jane seemed more indifferent to Bingley. When he explained his concerns about the inferiority of Jane's family to him, Bingley was not willing to give her up, but when Darcy told him that he felt Jane indifferent, Bingley agreed to leave.
With respect to Wickham, Darcy also explains. He writes that his father indeed had the highest opinion of him, but that after his death Wickham received an agreed upon sum, and when it was gone, came back for more to support his "life of idleness and dissipation." Darcy would not give him more money, and did not hear from him a while, until he found out from his sister that she felt herself in love with him. Darcy arrived in time to stop the elopement. Darcy concludes his letter by hoping that she will acquit him of any cruelty towards Wickham, and that if she needs any proof of the truth of what he had written, she could talk to Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Chapter 36: Elizabeth reads through Darcy's letter with a mixture of emotions. When she first reads Darcy's explanation of his conduct with Bingley and Jane, she dismisses his explanation of his concern about Jane's indifference as false, and believes he acted solely because of her family. However, when she begins reading his explanation of the dealings with Wickham, she begins to read more clearly. She soon begins to realize that she had not known anything of Wickham before the night when he told her of he and Darcy, and she wonders why she didn't realize his impropriety at speaking of such things to a stranger. As she continues to reread and think, she realizes that she had been "blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd," and that she believes Darcy's version of what happened. She then rereads the section about Jane and Bingley, and sees that she cannot deny the justice of his description of Jane's seeming indifference after all. After two hours of wandering in the park she returns home to be told that both Fitzwilliam and Darcy had come to say their good-byes.