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Summary Chapter 56

Lady Catherine pays a visit to Longbourn, surprising everyone. She is not very civil, though Mrs. Bennet is too impressed to have such an esteemed visitor to notice. Lady Catherine criticizes how small their park is and how inconvenient their sitting room is. She then asks Elizabeth to show her an area of interest outside.

Catherine assumes Elizabeth knows why she is there. Elizabeth denies this, which angers her more. She reveals that she has learned that Mr. Darcy plans to marry Elizabeth. She doesn’t believe it, but she decided to make her objections known. She hopes coming there will prove the rumor false. Elizabeth replies it will only confirm it more. Lady Catherine wants to know if it is true. Elizabeth is evasive. Lady Catherine tells her that Mr. Darcy is engaged to her daughter. Elizabeth then says it is doubtful he’ll ask her to marry him if he is.

Lady Catherine then admits that Mr. Darcy’s mother and she had intended for their children to wed. She asks Elizabeth whether she has no regard for his friends. Elizabeth replies that if Mr. Darcy is not inclined to honor their wishes, she sees no reason why she couldn’t marry him if he chose her. Lady Catherine warns that she’ll be considered disgraceful to his friends and family. They will refuse to acknowledge her. Elizabeth says there are other things that could make the wife of Mr. Darcy happy. Lady Catherine tells Elizabeth she shouldn’t move from her own society. Elizabeth says she is a gentleman’s daughter. As to the other members of her family, if Mr. Darcy doesn’t object to them, then it doesn’t matter.

Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine she is not engaged to Mr. Darcy, but she won’t promise to refuse such a proposal if it is made. Besides, she fails to see that refusing Mr. Darcy will make him more inclined to marry his cousin. Lady Catherine brings up how disgraceful it would be for Mr. Darcy to link himself with the same family in which Lydia and Wickham belong. Elizabeth, offended, refuses to continue the conversation.

Lady Catherine tells Elizabeth she will cause the world to scorn Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth replies the world has too much sense to scorn him. Lady Catherine vows to fight it. She leaves.

Jane Austen