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Who does Lydia Bennet marry?

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet ends up marrying George Wickham. Their marriage is one of the key events in the plot of the novel.

Quick Summary of Lydia and Wickham’s Relationship

Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice. She is frivolous, flirtatious, and lacks proper manners and morals. Mr. Wickham is an officer in the militia that gets stationed near the Bennets’ home in Meryton. Lydia finds Wickham very charming and attractive. They begin flirting and spending time together.

Lydia and Wickham end up running away together to London. At the time, an unmarried woman running away with a man would have been considered utterly scandalous. The Bennet family is horrified and worried that Lydia’s reputation will be ruined and none of the sisters will be able to find husbands.

However, Mr. Darcy tracks them down and forces them to marry by paying off Wickham’s debts. This saves the Bennet family from complete disgrace. While Lydia and Wickham’s marriage is not based on love or mutual understanding, they remain married throughout the events of the novel.

Lydia’s Background

Before looking specifically at Lydia’s marriage to Wickham, it is helpful to understand her background and personality. As the youngest Bennet sister, Lydia is immature, foolish, and seeks attention. She loves dancing, flirting with officers, and socializing. Throughout the novel, she displays very little wisdom or concern for proper behavior.

For example, early in the novel when the militia is first stationed near the Bennets, Lydia begs her older sister Kitty to invite some of the young officers over for dinner. She says:

“I am sure there is not on earth such a family for talent and beauty as us. And when you have nothing better to do, you must think of us, and see if you cannot scrap up an acquaintance with one of them.”

This quote illustrates Lydia’s exaggerated sense of self-importance and her frivolous attitude. She cares more about flirting with officers than proper social conduct.

Key Events Involving Lydia and Wickham

Here are some other key events that demonstrate Lydia’s personality and lead up to her marriage to Wickham:

  • Lydia obsesses over the newly arrived militia in Meryton and constantly begs her sisters to socialize with the officers.
  • At the Netherfield ball, Lydia spends the whole evening dancing with officers and ignoring proper etiquette.
  • When Mr. Collins proposes to Lizzy, Lydia shows no understanding of the seriousness of marriage. She treats the idea like a silly joke.
  • Lydia goes to Brighton with the militia against her father’s wishes. She pays no attention to propriety.
  • Lydia runs away from Brighton with Wickham and lives with him for weeks before they are forced to marry.

Overall, Lydia is portrayed as a foolish girl who flouts social norms and propriety in her single-minded pursuit of fun and officers. This sets the stage for her scandalous elopement with Wickham.

About George Wickham

George Wickham has a controversial history with the Darcy family that influences his relationship with Lydia. Here are the key facts about Wickham:

  • Wickham grew up with Mr. Darcy and was the son of Mr. Darcy’s late father’s steward.
  • Mr. Darcy’s father funded Wickham’s education and intended to provide for him.
  • However, after the elder Mr. Darcy died, Wickham refused to become a clergyman as planned and asked for money instead.
  • Mr. Darcy paid him a significant sum to sever ties but Wickham soon squandered it through his vices.
  • Wickham tried to elope with Mr. Darcy’s 15-year-old sister for her fortune.
  • So Mr. Darcy despises Wickham as a greedy, immoral man who previously hurt his sister.

When Wickham joins the militia in Meryton, he enjoys playing on his charm and good looks to pursue women like Lydia despite his actual character.

How Lydia and Wickham’s Elopement Occurs

Lydia goes to Brighton with her aunt and uncle, who are in charge of the militia there. Despite being just 15, she is fixated on flirting with officers and chasing amusements. She becomes infatuated with Wickham and spends most of her time with him.

One day, Lydia and Wickham both mysteriously disappear from Brighton. It is soon discovered they have run away together to London. Lydia leaves a note for her friend Harriet that indicates they are not getting married right away but she will soon be married to the man she loves (Wickham).

Of course, an unmarried woman running away alone with a man would have caused utter disgrace in Regency England. As Lizzy says when she finds out:

“His choice is disinterested at least, for he must know my father can give her nothing. Our poor mother is sadly grieved. My father bears it better. How thankful am I, that we never let them know what has been said against him; we must forget it ourselves.”

Here Lizzy acknowledges that Wickham cannot marry Lydia for money. So their elopement seems strictly based on passion, which was still considered improper. The Bennet sisters will now struggle to find good husbands with this stain on their family’s reputation.

How Lydia and Wickham are Forced to Marry

Luckily, Mr. Darcy tracks down the couple in London and forces them to marry. He does this by paying off Wickham’s substantial debts. Wickham agreed to marry Lydia for the money.

Mr. Bennet also later paid Wickham a hundred pounds a year to help Lydia with expenses. So in the end, through the efforts of Darcy and her family, Lydia does end up properly married to Wickham.

Lydia and Wickham’s Marriage

Though Lydia and Wickham end up married, their relationship seems highly dysfunctional. Wickham continues to be a greedy, morally corrupt man while Lydia remains immature and ignorant. Here are some insights about their unhappy marriage:

  • They married only because Darcy bribed Wickham with money to save the Bennet family’s reputation.
  • Lydia seems to maintain her silly obsession with Wickham after marriage.
  • Wickham treats Lydia poorly and is unfaithful.
  • They constantly ask her family for money and help.
  • It is implied Wickham may even be abusive towards Lydia.
  • They do remain together despite their incompatibility and vices.

Through this disastrous marriage, Austen provides commentary on passion-based matches and proper marital conduct. Lydia and Wickham’s relationship clearly contrasts with the loving, balanced partnership between Jane Bennett and Mr. Bingley.

Key Quotes About Their Marriage

Here are some quotes from the other characters that provide insights into Lydia and Wickham’s marriage:

“Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.” – Mr. Darcy predicts Lydia’s future before her elopement.

“He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search, which was more than we had; and the consciousness of this, was another reason for his resolving to follow us.” – Lizzy noting Darcy’s role in finding Lydia.

“Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace dismissed them to a home, was unsettled in the extreme.” – Narrator describing their turbulent married life.

Overall, Lydia’s marriage to Wickham provides an example of improper marital values and highlights Lydia’s continued foolishness. Even her being forced to marry did not make her mature or change her frivolous ways.


In summary, Lydia Bennet ends up marrying George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. Despite being a disastrous match, their marriage saves the Bennet family’s reputation after the couple elopes. Throughout the story, Lydia flouts propriety to pursue Wickham for passion’s sake. Mr. Darcy intervenes to make them marry, though they remain unhappy together. Their marriage provides a contrast to the proper, loving relationships in the novel like Jane and Bingley’s.