Lydia’s elopement with Wickham was not something that could be hidden. Wickham would undoubtedly break Lydia’s heart but because she’s so silly in wanting to become his wife to show off and appear grown up they elope together, their marriage has an inevitable outcome and most likely becomes exactly how Mr and Mrs Bennet’s relationship is now. Many people in the book do believe it is their fault that something like this could even happen such as Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy and Mr Bennet.
There are many different reactions to such a tragedy like this, Elizabeth finds out the saddening news when she is invited to Pemberely with the Gardiners to dine with Bingley, Darcy and their sisters. She is deeply mortified when she opens a letters revealing the news that Lydia has eloped with Wickham to Gretna Green from Jane (her older sister) and then Jane concludes the letter by saying their father and colonel Forster have gone to locate them. Elizabeth in a state of shock unexpectedly walks into Darcy and tells him what happened, she immediately thinks of the effect the elopement will have on her family, she knows that any reputation that they had left was gone anyway because of this disgrace upon their family honour. Elizabeth was the only one who warned her father not to let Lydia go in the first place and when she realises something like this has occurred she is worried and stressed with what people will think of her and her family and how no one would come for her or other sister’s hand in marriages ‘with tears in her eyes’ this is highlighting Elizabeth’s distress to this whole embarrassing situation.
She understands what a horrid, selfish thing Lydia had done and begins criticizing her, ‘she has been given up to nothing but amusement and vanity’ ‘idle and frivolous’ ‘nothing but love, flirtation and officers have been in her head’ she’s trying to say that because Lydia is so young she had absolutely no idea what people will think of her and how her reputation has completely distorted and how silly she is.
Elizabeth also has doubts and wonders what Wickham is capable of, ‘Wickham has every charm of person and address that can captivate a woman’ what she’s trying to say is that he does have the right ‘moves’ so no one knows what he is capable of. From the women in her family, only Elizabeth and Jane seem to take this seriously and realise what a disgrace this is however the mother and the other sisters seem to now realise how severe a situation like this really is.
When Lydia sends a letter to her friend Harriet about the elopement saying ‘what a good joke it will be’ when her family find out that she has ran away with Wickham, Elizabeth is panicking she doesn’t know what to do because Lydia is very immature an childish she doesn’t recognize what she has done and she doesn’t understand the social conventions at that time.
Elizabeth is also angry because she knows this is a scandal and is disgusted with Lydia for writing such an irresponsible letter. I think Elizabeth feels it is her duty to get her family back together and sort this out, I feel that Elizabeth is a good character who can speak her mind, she is the only one who understands what will become of her family because the longer they stayed unmarried the worse it will be. Elizabeth was the only one who warned her father not to let her go to Brighton but he did not listen so I think that this whole crisis wasn’t really Elizabeth’s fault.
Mr Bennet is very dull and sarcastic he stays is his study and does nothing more, he doesn’t forbid or discourage Lydia’s behaviour in the first place, he simply can’t be bothered. When Lydia asks to go to Brighton, although he may not have realised at the time that she would elope with Wickham, Elizabeth still warned him and he knew exactly what a flirtatious and silly character she was yet he still consented this trip and gave her permission to go; he says ‘at Brighton she will be of less importance even as a common flirt that she has been here’ he took that risk and let her go and unfortunately he will have to think about the consequences his permission has caused. When he finds out about the elopement, he wants to find her and when he can’t he knows he also can’t save his family from this new found reputation and this scandal that has occurred. I personally think it is Mr Bennet’s fault that this occurred, he is selfish he only likes the elder two daughters but that doesn’t mean he can just ignore the rest. Her foolish character is shown at nearly every outing they go to but he didn’t stop it once and as a father it is his duty to do so; therefore I do feel that Mr Bennet had a main part to play in something like this happening.
Mr. Darcy also feels that this whole ‘event’ could have been stopped because he knew about Wickhams character, he knew what he was like when he tried to elope with his sister Georgiana but he didn’t stop it because he was thinking of his family’s honour. He does however later on track down exactly where Lydia and Wickham are, pays of his debts and also pays for them to get married but he does this purely for his love for Elizabeth as he knows that there is no way he can get married to her if Lydia and Wickham remain unmarried as that is what the family will be known for. Once he pays for everything and Elizabeth finds out they eventually get married. I think that it was Darcy’s fault for not telling anyone about the attempted elopement with his sister just because of his honour being affected but I also think he kind of made up for it when he paid for Wickhams debts and the marriage to take place, it was sweet of him to do it for his love for Elizabeth.
I think the parents are more at blame in this scandal because they could have stopped Lydia’s outrageous behaviour and in a way it wasn’t entirely Mr Bennet’s fault he was pressurised both by Mrs Bennet and Lydia into letting her go to Brighton so Mrs Bennet is also at fault, she is the one encouraging her youngest daughters behaviour just for the love of her daughters being married.