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Chapters 56 and 57

Chapter 56

One morning, a week later, the Bennets are surprised with a visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She enters the house in the rudest of manners, and hardly even acknowledges Lizzy as she introduces her mother. No one can understand the meaning of her visit, and the Lady finally commands Lizzy to join her on a walk in a certain area of the yard. As soon as they are outdoors, Lady Catherine announces that Lizzy must know why she is there; Lizzy assures her she does not. Lady Catherine warns Lizzy not to try to fool her. She has received word "of a most alarming nature" that Lizzy is to become engaged to her nephew, Mr. Darcy. She has come to Lizzy to express her utter disapproval of the match, though she believes the report must be a lie. Lizzy answers that the news is false, that she is not engaged to Darcy. Lady Catherine says that she only came to hear Lizzy confirm that the tale is a lie, but Lizzy suggests that, by coming all the way to Longbourn, Lady Catherine almost makes the story true. Lady Catherine assumes that the Bennets have been circulating the rumor, but is told she is wrong. Elizabeth reports that Darcy himself has declared the event impossible. Lady Catherine is not through, however. She insists that Lizzy may have captured him in a moment of infatuation, and lured him away from family obligations, and Lizzy insists that if she has, she would not share the news. To this, Lady Catherine becomes furious and yells at Lizzy, who shows a little disrespect for the woman in her answers. Lady Catherine insists that Darcy and Miss de Bourgh have been intended for each other since birth, and declares that honor and decorum impel him to complete the match. She will not have a woman with little fortune and no connections ruin what has been planned for years. She demands one more time to know if Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged, and Lizzy repeats that they are not. She then demands that Lizzy promise to never enter into an engagement with Darcy, but Lizzy will not make this promise. Lady Catherine is shocked, and they continue to argue. Lady Catherine brings up Lydia's embarrassment, and declares that a match between Lizzy and Darcy will dirty her family's reputation as well. Angrily, Lizzy reports that the woman has completely insulted her now. She asks Lady Catherine to leave. The woman calls Lizzy selfish and insists that the girl is out to disgrace her nephew. Lizzy declares that she only intends to act in a manner that makes her happy. As Lady Catherine finally leaves, she continues her insults and is rude to the end.

Chapter 57

Afterward, she thinks of Lady Catherine's visit incessantly. She cannot imagine where the rumor was started, and surmises that it must be in both her and Darcy's close connections to the recently engaged Jane and Bingley. She only worries that Lady Catherine will deliver a similar speech to Darcy, and perhaps convince him to renew any disregard for the poorly connected Bennet family. The next day, Mr. Bennet asks to speak to Lizzy privately, and congratulates his daughter on her impending marriage. He explains that he received a letter from Mr. Collins that morning, and that the man had revealed that rumor in Hunsford reports that Lizzy is soon to marry, and to a very wealthy and landed man. Mr. Bennet asks Lizzy whom this man is, but is answered by the letter's next line, which says that the man's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bough, would be made furious by the match. Mr. Bennet laughs as he pictures the proud, arrogant Mr. Darcy with his daughter. Lizzy cannot join in her father's laughter. The rest of the letter reveals that it was Collins who suggested the engagement to Lady Catherine, and that Collins is not happy the Bennets allowed the Wickhams into their home. Mr. Bennet disregards the letter with a laugh, and does not understand his daughter when she does not do the same. Lizzy simply says that the entire situation is strange. Mr. Bennet only laughs more as he realizes Lady Catherine must have called on Lizzy to express her distaste for the match. Elizabeth wants to cry. Her father seems to think that Darcy holds no affection for her at all, and she has begun to think that she has imagined Darcy's regard for her.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 ,10, and 11
Chapters 12, 13, and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17, 18, and 19
Chapters 20, 21, and 22
Chapters 23, 24, and 25
Chapters 26, 27, and 28
Chapters 29, 30, and 31
Chapters 32, 33, and 34
Chapter 35
Chapters 36, 37, and 38
Chapters 39 and 40
Chapters 41 and 42
Chapters 43 and 44
Chapters 45 and 46
Chapters 47 and 48
Chapters 49 and 50
Chapters 51 and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56 and 57
Chapters 58 and 59
Chapters 60 and 61



 






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