Who married Lydia Bennet?

Lydia Bennet is a fictional character in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. She is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters and is known for being silly and immature. A central plot point in the novel involves Lydia eloping with George Wickham, a militia officer. Their hasty marriage causes scandal for the Bennet family. This article will examine who Lydia Bennet married according to the novel.

Quick Answers

– Lydia Bennet married George Wickham.

– Their marriage was unplanned and occurred hastily after they eloped.

– It caused scandal for the Bennet family.

– Lydia was only 15 when she married Wickham.

About Lydia Bennet

Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice. Her four older sisters are Jane, Elizabeth (the protagonist), Mary, and Catherine (Kitty). The Bennet sisters live with their parents in the fictional village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire, England. The main concern of Mrs. Bennet, their mother, is to see her daughters married to wealthy men.

Lydia is described as silly, immature, and flirtatious. At only 15 years old when the novel begins, she is boy-crazy and obsessed with the militia officers stationed in the village. She receives frequent scoldings from her father and elder sisters for her inappropriate behavior, but she ignores them.

Out of all the Bennet sisters, Lydia requires the most supervision. However, her mother tends to indulge her bad behavior. Their housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, once says:

“If you, ma’am, would only tell her not to give her opinion about to every man she meets, she would soon cure herself of it… She has no discretion in her coughs…her humours are much too decided for that; she would make a quarrel, by only listening, if nobody spoke a word.”

This quote perfectly sums up Lydia’s reckless and inappropriate personality. The elder Bennets struggle to rein in her wildness throughout the novel.

About George Wickham

George Wickham is an officer in the militia newly arrived in Meryton, the village where the Bennet family lives. He is introduced early in the novel as a scoundrel who once had designs on the fortune of Mr. Darcy, one of the wealthiest men in the area. He and Mr. Darcy have a contentious relationship.

Here is how Mr. Wickham is described:

“George Wickham was the son of a very respectable man, who had for many years the management of all the Pemberley estates, and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust, naturally inclined my father to be of service to him, and on George Wickham, who was his god-son, his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed.”

This passage reveals Wickham was in a privileged position, being the godson of Mr. Darcy’s late father. But he failed to live up to his rank and instead causes trouble.

As soon as Lydia meets Wickham, she is immediately infatuated with him due to his handsome features and charming demeanor. The scoundrel Wickham, of course, takes advantage of silly Lydia’s obsession with him.

Lydia and Wickham’s Elopement

Lydia finally gets her wish to be with Wickham when she runs away with him. They leave Brighton and go to London, where they quickly marry at St. Clement’s church before word spreads of their intention to elope.

Here is how their elopement is described:

“They were married, married in the last week in May. Sunday three weeks, by special license, by the Reverend Samuel Phillips.”

Lydia and Wickham marry in a rush, without notifying their families or gaining consent. This is enormously scandalous at the time, as an unmarried gentlewoman like Lydia running away with an officer implies she lost her virtue before marriage. The elopement threatens the reputations of all the Bennets.

Reasons for Eloping

Why did Lydia and Wickham rush into an elopement and marriage? Here are some key reasons:

  • Lydia was obsessed with Wickham and determined to marry him.
  • Wickham wanted to take advantage of Lydia’s attraction for nefarious purposes.
  • Wickham was in debt and in need of her dowry and allowance from the Bennets.
  • Lydia assumed her family would eventually consent to the marriage.

The elopement solved Wickham’s financial problems but created a scandal for the Bennets. Lydia was foolishly trusting and unaware of Wickham’s true nature.

Reactions to the Elopement

How did the Bennets and others react upon learning of Lydia and Wickham’s elopement and hasty marriage?

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet is ecstatic, thinking it will lead to similar matches for her other daughters:

“This is delightful indeed!—She will be married!—I shall see her again!—She will be married at sixteen!”

As usual, Mrs. Bennet sees only the benefit and ignores the impropriety.

Mr. Bennet

Mr. Bennet is distressed and blames himself:

“Let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.”

He knows the elopement damages his family’s reputation.

Elizabeth Bennet

The protagonist Lizzy is ashamed of her sister and worries for the family’s reputation:

“Lydia—the humiliation, the misery, she was bringing on them all, soon swallowed up every private care; and covering her face with her handkerchief, Elizabeth was soon lost to everything else; and, after a pause of several minutes, was only recalled to a sense of her situation by the voice of her companion, who, in a manner, which though it spoke compassion, spoke likewise restraint, said, ‘I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence, nor have I anything to plead in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing, concern.’”

Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy immediately sees the scandal as his chance to demonstrate his continuing devotion to Elizabeth, despite her previous rejection of his proposal. He finds the couple in London and forces Wickham to marry Lydia. Darcy does this secretly to save the Bennet family honor.

People of Meryton

The local villagers who once admired Wickham now see him for the scoundrel he is. They blame him for tainting Lydia’s reputation and view the elopement as a terrible scandal.

Character Reaction
Mrs. Bennet Ecstatic
Mr. Bennet Ashamed and distressed
Elizabeth Bennet Humiliated and worried
Mr. Darcy Seizes chance to prove devotion
People of Meryton Shocked and outraged

This table summarizes the reactions of key characters to Lydia and Wickham’s elopement.

The Marriage Settlement

After finding the couple, Mr. Darcy forces Wickham to marry Lydia to salvage her virtue. He also provides a £10,000 settlement for Lydia and Wickham to live on, as Wickham had massive gambling debts. This settlement was contingent on him marrying Lydia.

Mr. Bennet had no interest in helping Wickham, but for Lydia’s sake, he accepts the settlement. He knows Wickham would abandon Lydia without proper financial incentive.

Mr. Bennet’s Reaction

Mr. Bennet says this when learning of the £10,000 settlement provided by Mr. Darcy:

“No,” said her father, “Wickham’s a fool if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds.”

He admits the foolish Wickham would not marry Lydia without the settlement. Though Mr. Bennet despises Wickham, he agrees to the marriage for his daughter’s sake.

Narrator’s Perspective

The narrator provides commentary on the situation as well:

“Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of Wickham’s removal from the Meryton neighborhood as the restoration of peace and health to their family.”

The settlement succeeds in salvaging the Bennets’ reputation by allowing Lydia and Wickham to marry.

Married Life for Lydia and Wickham

While Lydia imagined a blissful marriage to her darling Wickham, the reality of their marriage proves difficult.

An Unhappy Marriage

After an initial passion, their relationship cooled rapidly. With Lydia’s immaturity and Wickham’s scoundrel personality, their marriage becomes unhappy.

“Heedless of this, Lydia was longing to see Caroline Bingley again, from whose knowledge of high life she expected great amusement. But her disappointment in Caroline’s visits was although greater than she had often been prepared for; for Caroline neither came nor wrote.”

As described in this quote, even her friend Caroline, who Lydia had looked forward to visiting, stays away from the scandalous pair. Lydia remains naive while Wickham treats her poorly.

Always in Debt

Despite the generous settlement, Lydia and Wickham struggle with debt throughout their marriage due to Wickham’s vices of gambling and drinking. Lydia remains dependent on her relatives:

“It was suspected by her father that she submitted to the change without much reluctance.”

Frequently Relocating

Due to Wickham’s constant changes in military duties, they are forced to frequently relocate. Lydia moves away from her beloved Longbourn and her family.

“The plan became generally public in the regiment. From that period Lydia’s letters were more and more frequent, as the time drew near that was to throw her into the society of her Wickham for a week or two.”

Lydia keeps writing her family frequent letters, likely out of unhappiness.


In conclusion, the silly and boy-crazy Lydia Bennet married the scoundrel George Wickham in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Their hasty elopement and marriage caused a scandal that nearly ruined the reputation of the Bennet family.

While Lydia imagined wedded bliss, their unhappy union was plagued by Wickham’s vices and Lydia’s continued immaturity and dependence on her family. This unfortunate marriage was the predictable outcome of a young girl obsessed with a handsome soldier ignoring all his red flags. Lydia failed to make a prudent match like her elder sister Elizabeth did.

Overall, Lydia’s rushed marriage to Wickham provides an important lesson in Austen’s novel – do not let passion and attraction override practical considerations in choosing a marriage partner. Lydia’s mistake deeply impacts the entire Bennet family.

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