Pride and Prejudice follows the lives of the five Bennet sisters and their parents, especially focusing on the second eldest daughter Elizabeth. Though weary of her mother's desperation to place each of her daughters in good marriages, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to Mr. Darcy, a proud and wealthy gentleman who is attracted to Elizabeth because of her intelligence and wit. Amidst the drama of their friends' and families' lives, both must overcome preconceived notions and expectations in this story that explores class, love, and social change.
Mr. Collins leaves Longbourn. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Bennet's brother and his wife, come to Longbourn for a visit. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are sensible, intelligent, and refined, in spite of Mr. Gardiner being "in trade" as an attorney. Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth speak about Jane's failed romance with Bingley. Mrs. Gardiner offers to bring Jane back to London for a change of scene. Elizabeth hopes that while in London Jane will run into Bingley but Mrs. Gardiner cautions that it is not likely to happen since they are in such different social circles. Mrs. Gardiner observes Elizabeth with Wickham and Elizabeth's affection for Wickham. Mrs. Gardiner speaks with Wickham about Pemberley, Mr. Darcy and his father.In chapter twenty six, Mrs. Gardiner warns Elizabeth against becoming attached to Wickham because of his poor financial state. Elizabeth promises to prevent the attachment if she feels Wickham is falling in love with her. Mr. Collins returns to Hertfordshire for his wedding. Charlotte Lucas makes Elizabeth promise to visit her at Hunsford. Jane writes to Elizabeth from London; Caroline Bingley has not written or come to visit. Jane blames the behavior on a lost letter and visits Miss Bingley. Caroline waits two weeks before returning the visit and seems uncomfortable. Jane is finally convinced of Miss Bingley's insincerity. Elizabeth writes to her aunt to relate Wickham's engagement to a Miss King who has recently acquired 10,000 pounds.
In chapter twenty seven, Elizabeth looks forward to visiting Charlotte with Sir William Lucas and his second daughter. Elizabeth parts on good terms with Wickham, still believing that he is a "model of the amiable and the pleasing." Elizabeth stops in London to see Jane.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte set a wedding date; Mr. Collins leaves Longbourn and promises to write. Mrs. Bennet's brother and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, arrive at Longbourn. Mr. Gardiner, though he lives by a trade, is better bred and "agreeable" than his sister, Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Gardiner is described as "amiable, intelligent, and elegant." Mrs. Bennet complains to Mrs. Gardiner that two of her girls had "been on the point of marriage" but that there was "nothing in it." Mrs. Bennet complains that Elizabeth ruined a good chance at marrying Mr. Collins, but that Jane could not be blamed for losing Mr. Bingley. Mrs. Gardiner explains to Elizabeth how young men like Mr. Bingley often fall in love for a few weeks with beautiful women like Jane. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner invite Jane to come to London with them. Mrs. Gardiner cautions that there is little to no chance that Jane will see Bingley. The Gardiners stay a week in Longbourn. Mr. Wickham and Mrs. Gardiner are introduced to one another, and find that they have "many acquaintance in common." They discuss Pemberley.
In chapter twenty six, Mrs. Gardiner advises Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham because of his lack of income. Elizabeth tells Mrs. Gardiner that she is not in love with Wickham, and says that, should he begin to fall in love, she will put a stop to it. Mrs. Gardiner advises Elizabeth that they should not continue to invite Wickham to the house. Mrs. and Mrs. Gardiner leave Longbourn. Mr. Collins arrives to plan his marriage to Charlotte. Charlotte invites Elizabeth to visit her in March with Sir Lucas and her younger sister.
The wedding takes place. Charlotte writes Elizabeth and describes Hunsford, Rosings, and Lady Catherine. Jane writes Elizabeth that she was written Caroline Bingley since being in London but has not received an answer. Jane assumes the letter was lost. Jane visits Caroline Bingley and inquires after Bingley but does not receive a return visit from either. Jane admits to having been deceived into believing that Caroline Bingley liked her. Jane finally receives a return visit from Caroline Bingley, but it is an unpleasant visit in which Caroline is uncomfortable and tells Jane that her brother will give up Netherfield and not return. Wickham has become engaged to a Miss King, who has a fortune of ten thousand pounds.
In chapter twenty seven, Elizabeth leaves to visit Charlotte at Hunsford. On the way, Elizabeth stops at the Gardiner's to visit Jane. Elizabeth says her goodbyes to Wickham and tells him there are no hard feelings between the two of them. Jane and Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth discuss Miss King. Elizabeth states that if it is alright for a woman to marry a man for money, then a man should be able to do the same.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are provided as a sharp contrast to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Where Mrs. and Mrs. Bennet are absent, foolish parents, the Gardiners are reserved and always around when the elder Bennet daughters need them. They are kind people, and are well respected in society. When the Gardiners visit Longbourn, they seem to fill the need of parent to Elizabeth and Jane. Mrs. Gardiner is sympathetic to Jane's broken heart where Mrs. Bennet was completely unsympathetic and complains to Mrs. Gardiner about how both daughters had a chance to be married but how it had all come to nothing. Where Mrs. Gardiner lends a sympathetic ear to Jane, Mrs. Bennet only makes Jane's suffering worse by constantly speaking of Bingley and questioning why he has not returned.Mrs. Gardiner is sensitive to Jane's feelings and invites her to stay with in London. Mrs. Gardiner also observes Elizabeth with Mr. Wickham and gives her very good advice when she cautions Elizabeth not to encourage the attachment. Mrs. Bennet, on the other hand, is still upset that Elizabeth has refused Mr. Collins' proposal and continues to invite Mr. Wickham to dinner, an act that encourages a bad match for her daughter. Mrs. Bennet never seems to offer her daughters good advice in their relationships. Mr. Bennet's sarcastic indifference to his wife and daughters is also in stark contrast to Mr. Gardiner's quiet air and empathy for Jane's well-being.
Most of the plot in these chapters is conveyed through letters from Elizabeth to Jane and vice versa. Also, there are letters from Elizabeth to her Aunt Phillips. Even though Jane and Elizabeth are in different places, because of the letters the reader is able to keep up with both sisters. Jane finally admits that Elizabeth was right about the insincerity of Caroline Bingley. But as usual, Jane makes excuses for Miss Bingley by saying that she must be acting rudely for the sake of her brother.
Mr. Wickham's attachment to Miss King, after she has acquired the 10,000 pounds, provides insight into his true nature and exposes him as quite mercenary, though Elizabeth is still not convinced of his insincerity. Elizabeth surmises that her social position and limited income gave him little chance to marry her. Because Wickham paid no attention to Miss King before her inheritance, his motives are obvious, yet Elizabeth does not find fault with him due to her previous impressions. Mrs. Gardiner points out the mercenary actions of Wickham. Yet because Elizabeth has been flattered by Wickham she has formed a positive judgment and is unwilling to think of him any other way, just as she refuses to see Mr. Darcy as anything other than proud and haughty. While Elizabeth see nothing wrong with Wickham's choice of Miss King, she still finds fault with Charlotte for marrying for financial reasons.