Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice Chapter 56 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
About a week later, Lady Catherine De Bourgh makes a surprise visit to Longbourn. She says almost nothing to Mrs. Bennet, coolly inspecting the rooms and property, then asks Elizabeth to take a walk.
Lady Catherine's first instinct is to measure the Bennets' class rank by their property.
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Lady Catherine gets to the point: she knows of Jane's engagement; she also knows that Elizabeth has tricked her nephew, Darcy, into proposing as well. Elizabeth denies having done any such thing. Lady Catherine demands that she promise never to accept a proposal from Darcy. Elizabeth unconditionally refuses.
Lady Catherine's interrogation of Elizabeth is very rude. She feels her power exempts her from common decency, and she can't believe that Darcy would choose Elizabeth. So, she thinks he must have been tricked.
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Lady Catherine is shocked at Elizabeth's nerve. She says that Darcy was always intended for her daughter, Miss De Bourgh. And that Darcy's connection to the Bennets would bring shame, dishonor, and alienation from his family. Elizabeth, deeply insulted, denies that Lady Catherine's arguments have relevance for either herself or Darcy: they will make their own choices. Lady Catherine drives away furious.
Elizabeth boldly asserts her freedom of mind and freedom from the class concerns of Lady Catherine. In doing so, Elizabeth suggests that individuals can define themselves regardless of class or social prejudices.
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