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.
Elizabeth tells Jane about Darcy's proposal and about the part of the letter regarding Wickham. Jane is shocked and tries to make excuses for him. Elizabeth asks Jane whether she should expose Wickham's true character. They decide it would be best to keep it quiet, since Mr. Darcy has not given Elizabeth permission to make it public knowledge and to do so might hurt Georgiana's reputation.In chapter forty one, Kitty, Lydia and Mrs. Bennet are disappointed because the regiment is leaving Meryton. Lydia receives an invitation from Mrs. Forster, the wife of the Colonel of the regiment, to accompany her to Brighton. Elizabeth asks her father to forbid Lydia from going, explaining that she will not act properly on her own, but her father does not listen and tells Elizabeth that Lydia will be fine in Brighton under the supervision of Colonel Forster. Elizabeth sees Wickham frequently and leads him to suspect that she knows the truth of his past. He pretends not to notice.
In chapter forty two, it is revealed that Elizabeth's father has lost all real affection for Mrs. Bennet over the years, and only married her for her beauty. Mr. Bennet derives his only enjoyment from books and the country. Elizabeth has always recognized the impropriety of her father's behavior as a husband. Elizabeth looks forward to her trip with the Gardiners to tour of the Lakes. Elizabeth is persuaded by Mrs. Gardiner to visit Pemberley.
Elizabeth tells Jane about the letter she received from Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth tells Jane about Wickham's behavior, and about how Darcy interfered with her romance with Mr. Bingley. Jane tried to excuse the behavior of both men but Elizabeth replies that she "cannot make them both good." Jane tells Elizabeth that her judgments toward Mr. Darcy now seem underserved. They discuss whether or not to reveal Mr. Wickham's true character. They decide not to tell, as telling will cause to Georgiana's reputation and Elizabeth states that Darcy has not authorized her to "make his communications public." Mrs. Bennet questions Elizabeth about Mr. Bingley's return to Netherfield, saying that she has "inquired of everybody" to find out whether or not he intends to return. Elizabeth responds that no one wanted him back anyway. Mrs. Bennet then turns her attention toward the Collins', remarking that they live well in Hunsford and will soon have Longbourn as well.
In chapter forty one, The regiment is set to leave Meryton, which has Lydia in terrible spirits. Jane and Elizabeth have been home a week. Mrs. Bennet is empathetic toward Lydia's sadness at the regiment leaving, as she "endured a similar occassion five and twenty years ago." But Lydia is soon cheered when Mrs. Forester invites her to spend the summer in Brighton as "her particular friend." Mrs. Forester is the wife of the colonel of the regiment, but not much older than Lydia herself.
Elizabeth begs her father not to agree to let Lydia go, but he does so anyway. Elizabeth forcasts tat Lydia will behave badly and speaks of Lydia's "unguagrded and imprudent manner." Mr. Bennet asks Elizabeth if Lydia's behavior has frightened away any of her lovers. Elizabeth responds that it has not but comtinues to ask her father not to agree to the plan. Mr. Bennet does not listen, and says that if he does not let her go there will be no peace in the house all summer long.
In chapter forty two, Mrs. Bennet is revealed to have been very beautiful in her youth, and very foolish, much like her daughter Lydia.It is also revealed that Mr. Bennet's love for Mrs. Bennet has been lost long ago, and that his happiness is now based on the country and his books. Mr. Bennet is not a good husband, and very often finds humor in his wife's ignorance. Elizabeth had never been "blind" to her father's treatment of her mother, but had always "respected his abilities" in spite of his behavior.
Elizabeth is glad the regiment is to leave Meryton, and continues to think that Lydia's trip to Brighton will end in disaster. Elizabeth receives a letter from her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, which discusses their plans to visit the lake country. Elizabeth is nervous about being so near Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's estate.
Four weeks later, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrive in Longbourn with their four children, who are to be taken care of by Jane. The Gardiners stay at Longbourn one night, and then set out with Elizabeth the next morning to tour the countryside. Mrs. Gardiner asks Elizabeth if she would like to see Pemberley, not able to think of a suitable excuse not to, Elizabeth agrees to visit the estate.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are further portrayed as negligent parents in allowing Lydia to go to Brighton with Mrs. Forster. Not only does Mrs. Bennet allow Lydia to go, but seems to envy the fact that Lydia is going. There is a strong parallel between the two women, and often the reader begins to think that Mrs. Bennet has the sensibilities of a sixteen year old girl. Mrs. Bennet does not seem to understand the harm that Lydia might do to her reputation, and the reputation of her family, when she finds herself in Brighton unchecked by her parents or her older sisters. Mr. Bennet also seems more interested in keeping the peace in his house rather than protecting his daughter's reputation and keeping her from doing something foolish.When Elizabeth advises that Mr. Bennet not allow Lydia to go to Brighton, he comments that sending her to Brighton will be a good thing because "Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances." When Elizabeth mentions that Lydia's behavior will have harmful effects on her reputation, Mr. Bennet jokes and concludes that if he were to forbid Lydia to go the family "shall have no peace at Longbourn."
Lydia's frivolous character, combined with a trip to Brighton, and the presence of the unsavory character of Wickham once again foreshadow trouble for the Bennet family. It is as if the three are waiting to collide with one another. Elizabeth's last conversations with Wickham demonstrate how her perception of him has changed and she has now "learned to detect, in the very gentleness which had first delighted her, an affectation and sameness to disgust and weary."