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Character Analysis Elizabeth Bennet In “Pride And Prejudice” By Jane Austen
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Character Analysis Elizabeth Bennet In “Pride And Prejudice” By Jane Austen

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  • Good analysis of Elizabeth Bennet.The analysis also helps understand the novel better.
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    Character Analysis Elizabeth Bennet In “Pride And Prejudice” By Jane Austen Character Analysis Elizabeth Bennet In “Pride And Prejudice” By Jane Austen Document Transcript

    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Chapter 1: Introduction 1. Rationale Literature plays an important role in human society as it is the expression of life in words of truth and beauty as well as the written record of man's spirit of his thoughts, emotions and aspirations. In literary works, there is a variety of different characters with different personalities and they have to deal with various issues. Therefore, sometimes we discover a new world for the moment which is very different from our own and it seems that we are in a place of dreams and magic or sometimes we find these characters so familiar that we are likely to meet them in real life or in our own experience. In other words, literature is like a mirror that enables us to enrich our understanding about ourselves and sharpen our perceptions. The next point is that literature not only helps us to see ourselves better but also gives us much pleasure. Literary works such as fictions, poems or dramas have a power to catch us up and delight us by interesting characters and original situations. In each work of art, we have chances to enter a new world that we might never visit, enjoy new feelings as well as get involved in new adventures, challenges and victories. These are the reasons why I choose literature for my thesis. The novel “Pride and Prejudice” is about a beautiful love between Elizabeth and Darcy who have to overcome a lot of difficulties and social prejudices to be happy together. Moreover, readers are really impressed by the way the author builds her female characters, especially the main heroine named Elizabeth Bennet who is a lively, quick-witted, sharp- tongued, bold and intelligent girl. Everyone easily realizes that she is the 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen most distinguished and unique character in the novel because of her strong-willed and keen mind. It is not pompous to say that the novel is a lyrical song of women Although this research might have mistakes and be imperfect, I do hope that by analyzing the character Elizabeth Bennet in the novel “Pride and Prejudice” I could make a small contribution to the study of English Literature in the 18th century as well as express my deep love and admiration for the famous and talented English writer Jane Austen. 2. Working method The method of analysis which is attached to this graduation paper consists of searching for materials, analyzing, giving final judgments and conclusion. 3. Scope of the study The research would be limited in the novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, in which I am going to focus on analyzing the main character Elizabeth Bennet. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Chapter 2: Literature Review I. Literary theories 1. What is literary fiction? According to Judi Clark at mostlyfiction.com, a literary fiction “can be the broadest category and in a sense is a catch all, but the intention is to list books that really draw you in with language, imagery, character insight and sense of placequot;. Being one of the basic modes of literature, Fiction is a genre whose content is produced by the imagination and not necessarily based on fact. Literary fiction includes works written as short story, novella, novel and novel sequence. In this type, authors invent the characters, their conversations, and the setting of the story. Authors also make up the plot, or what happens in the story. Therefore, characters and events are not real people and things. Even though a work of fiction may be based on actual events, it is not a retelling of facts. Due to this feature, readers can enjoy and discover a new world that they have never known before. Yet, the fact that a fiction is an imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but is invented does not mean that readers are not 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen completely familiar with what happen in the story because the authors often want to address universal social issues or even daily relationships between people and people, people and the nature through their literate and multilayered works. Thus, readers can more or less find themselves in these novels. Moreover, as the characters are put in many real-life situations so they seem to live and breathe on the page and readers can share their feelings with the characters. 2. The elements of a Fiction When reading a story, we can easily realize that a Fiction is an overall and unified literature body made up by many parts in which each one plays an important role of building the fictional world. These elements have certain functions in the work and have close ties with each other. Lacking any one of them can make the structure of the story become weak, disordered and broken, easily leading to the failure of the work. Therefore, it is quite necessary to know what these elements and their positions are if we want to approach the literary work in depth. In the following part, I would like to introduce the elements of a Fiction including Theme, Plot, Setting , Point of View and Character. 2.1. Theme Theme can be understood as the controlling idea of a Fiction. It may be stated briefly or at great length. However, “briefly” here does not mean a word or a phrase but it must be expressed in the form of a statement. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen As a theme is the central and unifying insight of the story, it is the generalization about life, about the subject that the whole story wants to mention to. It usually accounts for the major details so names of characters or specific situations in the story do not appear in a theme. There is another thing that should be remembered about a theme that it is not moral because “moral” implies a positive meaning or idea and not all themes are positive. It is simply the main idea that the writer wants his readers remember or understand. 2.2. Plot Plot is a literary element that describe the structure of the story including a sequence of events or incidents within a story. A plot of a story contains some factors such as Conflict, Artistic Unity and Story Ending. _ Conflict is a clash of actions, ideas, desires or wills. Conflicts helps the story be more interesting and dramatic as when a conflict occurs, especially when the conflicts reach to the climax, the characters show their personalities most obviously and it also shows the writer’s talent in building the story. Usually, the more there are conflicts and the cleverer they are solved the more success that the story can achieve. There are three types of conflicts that we often see in stories, that are person against person, person against environment - external force, physical nature, society, or quot;fatequot; and person against herself/himself - conflict with some element in her/his own nature; maybe physical, mental, emotional, or moral. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen _ Artistic Unity: A successful literature work is a perfect structure with coherence and unity in terms of art. In a plot, there is nothing irrelevant that does not contribute to the total meaning or nothing that is there only for its own sake or its own excitement. _ Story Ending: In a Happy Ending the stereotypical expectation is that the protagonist must solve all the problems, defeat the villain, win the girl, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, many real life situations have unhappy endings. In some cases, the writer leaves an open ending; it means that the conflicts are not solved completely or there may be many ways to solve the problems. This kind of ending a story helps encourage the imagination of readers and make them give much thought to the meaning of the story. 2.3. Setting The setting is the place where the story takes place. The setting can be general or specific depending on the writer’s choice but it usually includes the followings: geographical location, time period, socio- economic characteristics of the location or specific building, room and so forth. The setting can be used to provide readers with basic information about the characters such as the place they are born and live, the historical context or the social status. In addition, it also sets the atmosphere for the story. 2.4. Point of View 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen quot; . . . I think point of view is one of the most fundamental elements of the fiction-writing craft . . .quot; (Selgin 2007, p. 41). Point of view is the way the story is told and more specifically, how the writer chooses to tell his/her story - determines the voice of the writing. In a work of art, point of view refers to who narrates a story and how much that narrator knows. There are two distinctly different types of point of view, namely First Person point of view and Third Person point of view. In the First person point of view, the writer uses the pronoun quot;Iquot;. The main character is telling the story in his or her own words. This point of view allows the writer to easily show the character's personality because every thought, feeling and opinion expressed in the narrative comes from that character. In this type, as the writer can only show the thoughts of the main character, and see the events the main character sees, dialogue is the most preferable and effective way to express the appearance as well as personalities of the main character and the others. However, there is limitation to this viewpoint, that is the character must always actively involved in the story at all times, otherwise he has to describe the action in long, telling passages which never hold readers’ interest. In the Third Person point of view, the writer uses the pronouns quot;hequot;, quot;she,quot; or “it” the story is still told through one character's eyes. The narrator must remain invisible so readers can immerse themselves within the world of the story. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 2.5. Characters A character is the participant in the story, usually a person, but may be any identity or entity exists in a fictional work. Therefore, through different stories of different writers, readers are able to enjoy a variety of characters, a King, a Knight, a peasant, a dog or event an insect. As a result, this is one of the most interesting points of literary work, that is making people never get bored with it. As a fiction is a work of art in which the writer has rights to let his imagination be most free, he can write anything he wants. So his characters may be entirely fictional or based on real, historical entities. There are many types of characters that a writer can use in his work and I am going to discuss about them one by one. First, I want to talk about flat characters. A Flat Character is the kind of character who reveals only one, maybe two, personality traits in a story or novel, and the trait(s) do not change. It means that flat characters do not grow, they end where they begin and generally fall into one of two categories: _ Stock Character: a special kind of flat character in a standard role with standard traits and is instantly recognizable to most readers such as the irate police captain, the bored hotel clerk, the overbearing mother or the shushing old librarian. _ Stereotype: a character who is so ordinary and unoriginal that s/ he seems to have been cast in a mold, a representative character, a character who possesses no attributes except those of their class. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen The following type of characters is Round character. Round characters are characters who recognize, change with, or adjust to circumstances. In others words, the characters are complex, realistic and many-sided and readers can find out their depth of personality because they touch aspects of life from many different angles. They frequently possess both good and bad traits and undergo a change or alteration in personality or perception. These characters are fully developed by the author physically, mentally, and emotionally. Normally, the development of the characters are shown in action, the realization of new things and therefore the affirmation of previous decisions, the acceptance of a new condition. Contrasting to flat characters, the round characters seem to be more real, more human. A round character is usually a main character and generally fall into one of two categories: _ Protagonist: central to the action, moves against an antagonist and exhibits the ability to adapt to new circumstances. The central character in a story _ Antagonist: any force in a story that is in conflict with the protagonist. An antagonist may be another person, an aspect of the physical or social environment, or a destructive element in the protagonist's own nature. Another type of characters is Dynamic character who changes significantly during the course of the story. A character is distinguished as dynamic when he/she has transformation in outlook, in sight or 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen understanding, and in values. Sometimes a dynamic character is called a developing character. In contrast, a Static character remains primarily the same throughout a story and does not experience any significant change. Events in the story do not alter a static character’s outlook, personality, motivation, perception, habits, etc. This is commonly done with secondary characters in order to let them serve as thematic or plot elements. Besides the four types of characters above, there are also other types such as a Foil (a character that is used to enhance another character through contrast. For example, Cinderella’s grace and beauty as opposed to her nasty, self-centered stepsisters is one clear illustration of a foil many may recall from childhood.), a Confidante (a character, not necessarily a person, who the central character confides in, thus revealing the main character’s personality, thoughts, and intentions.) and A non- fictional character (a character that actually exists or existed in history, but they appear in the story somehow differently from their historical activities.) Although the character types are listed separately, characters may be (and often are) a combination. A foil, for example, could also be a round, flat, or even a stock character. However, there are some cases that some character types are opposite and cannot be considered. For example, one cannot have a character that is both flat and round, or a character that is both static and dynamic. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 3. Methods of characterization Characterization is an important element in almost every work of fiction, whether it is a short story or a novel. With the use of this literary technique, the author can convey the information and reveal the nature of his characters. He may depict the characters’ appearance, describe the reactions of the character to the others, report the character's speech and behavior and let out the character's thoughts and feelings. Therefore, readers can have a fully view on the characters such as appearance, age, gender, family, cultural background, social status, hobbies, beliefs and personality. When it comes to characterization, a writer has two options: _ Direct characterization: the writer makes direct statements about a character's personality and tells what the character is like. _ Indirect characterization: the writer reveals information about a character and his personality through that character's thoughts, words, ways of talking and actions, along with how other characters respond to that character, including what they think and say about him. Hence, in this type, readers have to deduce themselves what the character is like. The difference between the direct and indirect characterization is the same as between telling and showing. Direct characterization “tells” the reader whereas indirect characterization “shows” the reader. More specifically, indirect characterization is more likely to engage the readers’ imagination and paint more vivid images while direct characterization stands out in moving the story straightforward as well as in its briefness, shortness but still getting basic information. When deciding which method to use in the story, writers usually have a preference in “showing” 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen because this way is more interesting and gets readers more involved in the story. Nevertheless, there are cases in which the direct characterization proves to be more effective and useful. For example, when the writer wants to describe a minor character or to portray a minor trait. Thus, Which characterization technique is most appropriate depends on the needs and concerns of the writer. II. An overview of English literature in Jane Austen’s time 1. Social setting 1.1. In politics In Jane Austen’s time, Britain continued to maintain the two concurrent ruling systems including monarchy regime and ministerial system. Specifically, the country was ruled by King George IV and the government was divided into hostile parties including the Liberal Whigs which determined to safeguard popular liberty and the Conservative Tories which tried to leave as much authority as possible in the royal and noble’s hands. 1.2. In economy The Industrial Revolution which originated from England made the country become the most powerful in the world. The age of mercantilism began not only in the domestic market but also in overseas ones. The economy got surprising achievements, in which a network of canals was built, iron production grew rapidly and agriculture was developed much by the technological advances. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 1.3. In society In the late 18th century everyday life in Britain was transformed by the revolutions in industry and politics. Social status was still largely determined by wealth and economic standing. The middle and upper classes had a quite pleasant lives. They lived in luxurious and spaceful houses, wore the best material and the finest crafted outfits and never knew hunger. In contrast, the lower class had to suffer from a miserable and needy life. Men of this time typically made most of the money in the household while women did most of the housework and never went outside to find work. 2. Literature movements The last decades of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century witnessed big changes in literature, especially in fiction. Most of novels were written in the Regency era and shared some common traits. Firstly, readers could realized obviously a strong sense of social position among characters and sometimes it was the origin of all arising problems in the story. Works of Jane Austen or Samuel Richardson are typical ones mentioning to this factor. Secondly, novels in this period mainly gave emphasis on social manners and class issues. Through their works, writers brought about a vivid and detailed picture of life of every social stratum. Hence, readers could know and understand different lifestyles, languages, clothes, points of view and so on among different classes quite well. Class issues including relationships between landowners and slaves, marriage between a person of high position and one of low position or 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen class distinction were also referred to much. The final characteristic of literature works in the Regency era was the emergence of modern social thought amongst the upper classes of England. They began to have liberal ideas and not to be too strict on class rules as before. The Regency era in England saw the decline of the great Neo- classicalism, an intellectual movement appeared in the first half of the 18th century and marked the beginning of the two new trends, namely Sentimentalism and Romanticism that were considered as protests against the social reality of the day. Sentimentalism, one of the important trends in English literature of the middle and later decades of the 18th century, is marked or governed by feeling, sensibility, or emotional idealism. It is resulted from feeling rather than reason or thought and has an excess of sentiment or sensibility. In other words, the remarkable features of sentimentalism are “along with a new vision of love, sentimentalism presented a new view of human nature which prized feeling over thinking, passion over reason, and personal instincts of quot;pity, tenderness, and benevolencequot; over social duties.” (Wikipedia). Most writers of this trend showed their sympathy for the poor and the virtuous, and interest in nature. Moreover, they justly criticized the cruelty of the capitalist relations and the social injustices brought about by the bourgeois revolutions. In general, they appealed to sentiment in tone. This trend became a transition from Neo-classicism to Romanticism. The most prominent representatives of this trend are Laurence Sterne, Thomas Gray and Oliver Goldsmith. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Followed by Sentimentalism is Romanticism which is brought about by changes in politics and social aspects, particularly by the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. During the Romantic period, people began to have a different look at the world and the nature. Orders and rules had no standing in pieces of arts, instead emotions, imagination and the self meant many things. Poets and writers were for the first time free in their thinking and feeling and they could express whatever they like. In Romantic theory, art was valuable as a mirror of the external world, but more importantly, it was considered as a source of illumination of the world within. There was a great emphasis on the intuition, human instincts and feelings in the literary works and they showed a richness of the inner world of a person as well as the mysterious aspects of one’s soul. Besides, poetry and fiction in this period had a concentration on the individual, in particularly, the authors themselves. This was mentioned clearly in the opening statement of Rousseau's Confessions, first published in 1781: quot;I am not made like anyone I have seen; I dare believe that I am not made like anyone in existence. If I am not superior, at least I am different.quot; The prominent and typical authors of this literature genre are Lord Byron, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Jane Austen, Samuel Richardson. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Chapter 3: Jane Austen – Life and career I. Biography of the writer Jane Austen Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon, a small village in the county of Hampshire in Southern England. She was the second of two daughters and the seventh of eight children of Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra. In the early life, she had a quite comfortable life as her father was a clergyman and he could afford to provide his family with a not at all wealthy but well off life. Of her siblings, Jane had closest relationships with Elizabeth Cassandra, who also died unmarried and Henry Austen, the fourth brother. They both played an important part in her later writing career. In 1783, at the age of 8, Jane and her sister Cassandra were sent off to a boarding school for their formal education. At school, they were taught all things that a girl of that time must know such as foreign languages, needlework, music and dancing. However, by 1786, the two sisters had to return home. Here, Jane lived in an environment of open learning that was much encouraged by her father. He had a large collection of books in his library and Jane always made an exclusive use 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen of this on reading and writing. Moreover, Mr. Austen also supplied books, paper and writing tools to give her daughter every conditions to discover her creativity. From 1787 to 1793, she began to write her own works including stories, poems and plays and now they are referred to as the Juvenilia. By 1789, she finished her first play name “Love and Friendship” and then, the play named “Sir Charles Garandison or the Happy Man”. Another works written in this period was the novel in letters “Susan” and later become “.Northanger Abbey”. Three of her major novels quot;Sense and Sensibilityquot;, quot;Pride and Prejudicequot; which was named “First Impression” at first and quot;Northanger Abbeyquot; were started between 1795 and 1799 although none were published until much later. In 1800, after Mr. Austen decided to retire from the clergy, his family moved to Bath. The urban setting in Bath that was contrasted sharply with the country living of earlier years left Jane opportunities to learn and observe new things. In 1802, Jane Austen received the only known proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither, a childhood friend of her. Bigg-Wither was a man who had a stable financial situation and could afford to assure Jane with a well off life. She accepted the proposal at first but she revoked her acceptance the next day. She gave no reason but in the letter written to her niece, Jane said that “I shall now turn around & entreat you not to commit yourself farther, & not to think of accepting him unless you really do like him. Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affectionquot;. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen In 1805, Jane’s father died of old age and, without the regular income from his clerical living, life for the Austen women became difficult. Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother had now to financially rely on the sons of the family. Jane wrote less at this period of her life. In 1809, they moved to live in Chawton cottage. Here, a quiet environment gave Jane a good condition to continue writing and she began to write regularly again. In October, 1811, with the help from her brother, Henry, the first of Jane’s published novels, quot;Sense and Sensibilityquot;, appeared with quot;By a Ladyquot; substituted for the author's name came to the public. quot;Pride and Prejudicequot; was published in 1813, followed by quot;Mansfield Parkquot; the following year. quot;Emmaquot; appeared in 1815, and it was the last novel published during her lifetime. After her death, there were two other novels published namely quot;Northanger Abbeyquot; and quot;Persuasionquot; due to Henry’s efforts. At the beginning of 1816, there was an obvious decline in Jane’s health. When her illness became worse, she was taken to Winchester to seek for medical treatment. On July 18th, 1817, Jane Austen died of the Addison's Disease and was buried in the Winchester Cathedral. II. Summary of the novel “Pride and prejudice” Pride and Prejudice was written by Jane Austen in 1796 and originally titled First Impressions but it was never published under that name. On 28 January, 1813 the novel was accepted for publication and has become famous all over the world for many centuries. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen The story begins with a news that a young handsome man with a huge fortune named Charles Bingley will come to live in Netherfield Park which is near the Bennets’ house. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet has five daughters named Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet is an insensible and narrow-minded woman whose the only joy comes from gossip and visiting the neighbors and the main goal is to get her daughters married. Bingley is immediately attracted by Jane Bennett, a beautiful and gentle woman at the ball held in his house right after his arrival. His sister, Lady Caroline and his closest friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, a noble wealthy man also attend the ball. Darcy is initially very proud so everyone finds him the most “disagreeable” and arrogant man there. Especially, when he refuses to dance with Elizabeth because she is “not handsome enough to tempt” him, he leaves a quite disgusted impression on her mind. Elizabeth Bennet is a very special girl whose intelligence, independence and wit always makes her different from other female characters in the novel. A few days later, Jane is invited for dinner at Netherfield and has to stay there because of getting a bad cold. Elizabeth decides to go to there to look after her sister. This action make Darcy begin to change his thoughts of Elizabeth and he pays more and more attention to her. Knowing Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth, Miss Caroline who always wants to win Darcy’s heart tries to insult Elizabeth by mocking rudely at the poor manners of her mother and younger sisters. Elizabeth continues keeping her prejudices against Darcy. Once when Elizabeth visits her aunt, Mrs. Phillips, she meets an officer named Wickham. He deceives Elizabeth by making up a so bad story about Darcy that makes her misunderstanding of him increases more. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Mr. Collins, a relative of Mr. Bennet who will inherit Longbourn after Mr. Bennet’s death, comes to propose to Elizabeth but she refuses him as she finds Mr. Collins is a silly and snobbish man and she does not want to enter a marriage without love. Charlotte Lucas, the best friend of Elizabeth, immediately accepts the proposal of Mr. Collins few days later because she wants to have a firm financial security and a pleasant life from marrying to Mr. Collins. At the beginning of the winter, Darcy and Bingley leave Netherfield to London making everyone, especially Jane shocked. After that, she decides to go to London with the hope of seeing Bingley but she fails to do this. In spring, Elizabeth pays a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Collins and meets Darcy again. He makes a surprising proposal to Elizabeth but is rejected. Knowing the fact that it is Darcy who convinces Bingley to leave Netherfield and not to engage to Jane through Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s cousin, Elizabeth is so upset and cannot accept his proposal. The next day, Darcy sends Elizabeth a letter in which he explains the reasons for his actions to Bingley and Wickham. After reading his letter, Elizabeth realizes that she misjudges Darcy’s personality and he turns out to be a good man while Wickham is a wicked person. Afterward, Elizabeth with the Gardiners, her uncle and aunt, visits Pemberley, Darcy's estate. Here she hears the housekeepers tell about how kind and good-natured Darcy is and she becomes more interested in him. Darcy introduces her to his sister Georgiana. One morning, Elizabeth receives a letter from Jane announcing that Lydia has eloped with Wickham, and that they fear Wickham does not actually intend to marry her. Elizabeth and the Gardiners immediately return Longbourn. Hearing the news, Darcy silently helps the Bennets without letting them know. Finally, Lydia and Wickham are found and they get married. Elizabeth know Darcy’s help by chance and she has great 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen appreciation of his action. Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield Park. After several days, Bingley proposes to Jane and she happily accepts. Darcy gives Elizabeth the second proposal regardless of his aunt’s objection, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and this time Elizabeth accepts as she really falls in love with him. Mrs. Bennet is so pleased with her daughters’ marriages. Chapter 4: Character analysis – Elizabeth Bennet Jane Austen lived in a historical time of changes in politics and society all over the world but her pen only focused on the middle-class provincial life in England in which women’s social status was mainly determined by marrying to a wealthy man who could provide them and their family a good security for life. However, most of the main female characters in Austen’s works are strong-natured and they stand for women’s freedom on marriage. Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” is a typical model of such kind of women. For her unique and original characteristics, she is considered as one of the most beloved heroines in English literature. Although the novel was written two hundred years ago, the distance of time could not fade away the image of Elizabeth as a complex young woman with sparkling intelligence and a strong personality. In other words, the period of two centuries more and more confirms the readers’ impression and love for the character. The author herself is also quite satisfied with her creation. Soon after the publication of the novel, she said that “I must confess that I think her as delightful a 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.quot; Although Elizabeth makes some mistakes, for example she has been driven by her pride and prejudice for a long time leading to the misjudgments about Wickham and Darcy, the striking features she possesses still overweight these weaknesses. She is not perfect but is an idealized woman. I. Elizabeth Bennet is an intelligent woman Elizabeth is the second of the five daughters in the Bennet family. However, unlike her mother and her siblings (except for the eldest sister, Jane) whose silliness and narrow-mindedness always prove themselves poorly in public, Elizabeth is quite smart and has a quick tongue. That is the reason for being the most favorite daughter of her father and the least one of her mother. Mr. Bennet, an intelligent man with a cynical sense of humor, has made an imprudent marriage with a silly and ill-mannered woman, Mrs. Bennet, and when he realizes this, he has a tendency to hide in his study rather than take part in the social and family activities with his wife and daughters. He always makes jokes on the stupidity and ridiculousness of his family members but Elizabeth who he usually calls Lizzy, sometimes “litter Lizzy”. It demonstrates that he cares for her a lot and perhaps, she is the only daughter of the family he expresses a real fatherly feeling. Throughout the novel, the readers can easily recognize that Mr. Bennet always gives Elizabeth a special interest as he sees in her a difference from her sisters and other girls. While Mrs. Bennet has little value for Elizabeth’s intelligence and wit: “Lizzy is not a bit better 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good humored as Lydia”, Mr. Bennet has a high regard for these qualities: “They have none of them much to recommend them, they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.” (Chapter 1) He thinks that his second daughter is much more sensible and wiser than her sisters so he often gives her advices, stands for her and trusts her in everything she does. When Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collins’s proposal as she does not want to marry such a fool and snobbish man, Mr. Bennet is not angry about her decision at all but totally supports her. In addition to the “quickness” of mind, Elizabeth also shares a good humor with her father. She likes taking ironic amusement at the others’ absurdities and hypocrisies and is quick to make fun of them excluding her mother and her younger sisters though she is occasionally embarrassed by their ridiculous behaviors. In the novel, she is depicted as having “a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous.” (Chapter 3). At the first meeting between Elizabeth and Darcy at the Meryton ball, Darcy coldly refuses to dance with Elizabeth and insults her by saying quot;...she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me...quot; (chapter 3). Such a comment on a girl, especially in a dancing party is quite discourteous and offensive and it makes Elizabeth a bit angry. However, instead of being ashamed and hiding her embarrassment, she retells this event to her friends in a teasing and mocking way. I think that her reaction is really wise and uncommon because rarely can a woman behave calmly in this situation like her. She laughs at what Darcy talks about her appearance and reverses the object of being snubbed from her into 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Darcy. Furthermore, in her talks with Miss Bingley and Darcy at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth herself admits that “I dearly love a laugh but … I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” (chapter 11). Being a person who has an outstanding mind, Elizabeth knows what she should or should not make a joke about and she expresses this point of view quite clearly and frankly. In other words, only idiocies and vanities of others can delights her and she is good at creating laughter from these enough to make her conversations become attracting and funny. Everybody is pulled towards her because of her quick mind and excellent sense of humor. In the readers’ eyes, Elizabeth is a young woman who has an exceptional intelligence that is shown up not only in her tongue-in- cheek dialogues and quick responses but also in her talent for observation. She loves watching other people’s behaviors to find out more about their characters and she has hardly ever bypassed any chance to do it. To Elizabeth, “intricate characters are the most amusing” (chapter 9) and this is obviously something that she quite enjoys. Moreover, Elizabeth believes people do not always stay the same. Time goes on and people also change so it is clear that there are lots of new things to be analyzed and considered in their natures. She never finds wasting of time or irritated about this, conversely, she is really interested in making people out. Therefore, anyone can become her target of studying, from her family members to all people around her. Due to her clear-headedness and “quickness of observation”, she is mostly successful in drawing a picture of someone’s personalities with the exception of Darcy’s and Wickham’s cases. When comparing 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Elizabeth with her elder sister, Jane, we can see an apparent difference between the two traits. Jane is gentler and more reserved than Elizabeth. She is described in the novel as being “too apt … to like people in general… All the world are good and agreeable in [her] eyes.” In other words, as having a kind heart and mild temper, Jane always wants to see the good side in the others. Once Elizabeth criticizes someone for their demeanors, Jane tries to offer positive interpretations to protect them from being disparaged by her sister. For instance, when Elizabeth tells Jane about the misery and poverty that Wickham has to suffer from because of Darcy’s cruelty and injustice as well as how she feels disgusted with Darcy’s actions, Jane attempts to give possible reasons that lead to Darcy’s acting like that in order to make excuses for him. Whereas, Elizabeth, contrary to Jane’s naivety, is more critical and less pliable; hence she usually gives out excellent and accurate comments on people’s characters than her sister. I am going to take the two sisters’ judgments on Miss Caroline Bingley as an example. While Miss Bingley appears to be quite “pleasing” and “a very charming neighbor” in Jane’s eyes, she gets not much appreciation from Elizabeth. With brilliant ability of observation, Elizabeth easily realizes the real nature of Miss Bingley as a “proud and conceited” woman. She has money and position but no lady-like character as her behaviors are arrogant, offensive, mean, jealous, cunning and false. At first, she seems to care for Jane a lot but later it is her who tries to convince Mr. Bingley to leave Netherfield and prevents him from marrying Jane. In fact, her concern for Jane is nothing more than a pretending affection and social etiquettes but her deceit has always been seen through by Elizabeth. Jane is warned about this by Elizabeth and the events happening later prove her sister 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen to be right. Although the two sisters are greatly different in their personalities, they have the closest relationship in the family. Especially, after Charlotte Lucas, the best friend of Elizabeth, gets married to Mr. Collins, Jane becomes the only reliable confidante of Elizabeth. Elizabeth pays much attention to Jane and is always the moral support for her sister. She understands Jane so much that any little change in her sister’s feelings cannot escape from her eyes. When Miss Bingley’s letter arrives informing that she and her brother intend to stay in London for the winter, Jane becomes downhearted. She attempts to conceal her emotions from Elizabeth without avail. quot;Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing.” (chapter 24). Also, in chapter 40, after coming back from London, Jane determines that she has completely recovered from the heart-broken and forgotten about Mr. Bingley; nevertheless, Elizabeth knows it is not true. Observing “the real state of her sister's spirits”, she finds that “Jane was not happy.” Knowing well the sweet and weak nature of Jane, Elizabeth can recognize the real feelings of her sister that her intense passion for Mr. Bingley does not easily die away. The readers of Pride and Prejudice can continue to enjoy the keen observing capability of Elizabeth through her excellent and precise judgments on other characters in the novel such as Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Throughout the story, although Elizabeth rarely talks to Mr. Bingley, she can characterize him as a simple and genial man whose easiness of temper makes him much more “agreeable” and pleasant than his closest friend, Darcy who possesses initially discourteous manners. In her conversation with 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Mr. Bingley at Netherfield Park, she is very confident to say that she “understands [Mr. Bingley] perfectly”. That is the reason why she takes no surprise in the fact that Miss Caroline is totally successful in keeping her brother in London away from Jane. Another character appears quite humorous and lively through Elizabeth’s eye is Mr. Collins, her distant cousin, who will inherit the estate of Longbourn after Mr. Bennet’s death. Before his coming, Mr. Collins sends the Bennets a long and banal letter to announce the purposes of his visit. Elizabeth cannot help putting a question on his character: “Can he be a sensible man, sir?” (chapter 13). She thinks that he is a man with something of oddity and pompousness. Moreover, through the letter Elizabeth immediately recognizes the special admiration that her cousin has for his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She takes notice of the details which seem to be unimportant but in fact contribute remarkably in making out the trait of Mr. Collins. It is an obvious proof that Elizabeth is really a keen observer. When Mr. Collins arrives, his ridiculousness and over-mannered gestures become the vivid illustrations for Elizabeth’s previous judgments about him. She identifies Mr. Collins as “a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man” (chapter 24) and being quite obsessed with Lady Catherine. Therefore, it is the reason why Elizabeth cannot accept such a fool man like Mr. Collins as a husband and frankly rejects his proposal in spite of her mother’s disappointment and anger. Furthermore, Elizabeth is also a smart and self-confident woman. It means that she is not easily influenced by the others’ opinions. Although Mr. Collins is lavish with his praise for the generosity and the noble demeanors of Lady de Bourgh, Elizabeth, however, only finds Lady Catherine to be excessively rude and difficult to get along with. She quickly portraits 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen this lady as a haughty, self-centered and domineering woman who expects everyone to appreciate and follow her advice on every topic. With a mental quickness, Elizabeth is not only good at judging and laughing other people’s foolishness but she is also aware of inappropriate behaviors of many members of her family. To Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth always has a great love and respect for him because of his intelligence and wit as well as his affection for her; however, sometimes she does not agree with her father’s attitudes at all, particularly in his role of a husband and a father. She “has never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behavior as a husband” (chapter 42) and cannot help realizing troubles in the relationship between her parents. In twenty years living together, Mr. Bennet has found himself trapped in a dreadful marriage with a noisy and foolish woman so he often mocks at her wife whenever he can. He usually takes refuge in his own library and is mostly not bothered by anything else besides books, even his daughters’ faults. He often says that his three smallest daughters are the silliest girls he has ever seen, yet he does nothing to restrain or change their improper demeanors. Elizabeth is fully conscious of Mr. Bennet’s indifference and irresponsibility as a father and she sometimes gives him some criticisms. For example, when Lydia is asked to go to Brighton with the wife of the colonel of the troop stationed in Meryton, Elizabeth tries to persuade him not to allow her to go and she also gives out the adequate reasons for her disapproval of her sister’s travelling but unluckily she does not succeed. As a result, the family nearly has to suffer the prospect of losing honor from Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. However, Elizabeth realizes that the bad behaviors of her two younger sisters are not wholly her father’s faults. Her mother is also in charge of their wrong manners. Elizabeth finds her mother's 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen influence on Lydia and Kitty particularly disturbing as Mrs. Bennet allows them to devote all their time to flirting military officers and neglecting any form of education. Besides, Mrs. Bennet also has many other shortcomings in her personality. For example, it is not difficult for Elizabeth to discover Mrs. Bennet’s schemes to marry off her daughters. When Mr. Collins comes to Longbourn with the aim of finding a wife, her mother desperately attempts to get her to marry him. Elizabeth knows that her mother does not concern about her feelings but only thinks of Mr. Collins as a means that helps her to remain at Longbourn after her husband passes away or brings fortune into the family. Moreover, in social meetings, Elizabeth is often embarrassed and ashamed by her mother’s silly and annoying speeches. When Mrs. Bennet visits Jane who has had a bad cold at Netherfield Park, she has a talk with Mr. Darcy. She misunderstands Mr. Darcy’s words but does not realizes it. Before Mr. Darcy’s silence, she is quite fancy at this and speaks continually. Elizabeth immediately notices the disdainful attitude from Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley, feels “blushing for her mother” (chapter 9) and tries to turn her thoughts by changing to another topic. However, we can see that although Elizabeth does not completely agree with their parents’ performance, she never shows contempt for them but endeavors to accept the family’s faults. She always worries and takes care of each family member, particularly when the upheaval of Lydia’s elopement happens. I think her responses are so admirable and commendable and it is one of the reasons that make her become the most favorite literature female characters of mine. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Elizabeth is a woman of extraordinary intelligence and due to this quality she can win the heart of a man who is handsome, rich and quite clever, Fitzwilliam Darcy. In the novel, the author does not depicts too much about Elizabeth’s appearance. Her outlook mostly comes from other people’s comments. There is one feature in her face being repeated and emphasized many times and having a symbolic meaning, that is her “fine eyes”. They are the symbols of a broad- mindedness and ability of observation. Originally, Darcy finds Elizabeth “tolerable” and “not handsome enough to tempt” him but he quickly gets rid of this impression when he recognizes “an uncommon intelligence” in her eyes. He even does not have intention of hiding his admiration for this pair of eyes to Miss Bingley. He says that “I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.'' (chapter 6). Darcy is gradually drawn towards Elizabeth and wishes to know more of her. Eventually, he sees her true worth and quite falls in love with her. Despite the fact that Elizabeth is rather inferior to him in every aspects (with very embarrassing relatives and very little wealth), he still has a high respect of her for being brilliant and witty. At the end of the novel, when all misunderstandings are swept away and they can talk candidly, Elizabeth asks Darcy to explain why he falls in love with her. Elizabeth playfully asks him if he loves her for “impertinence.” but Darcy replies, “For the liveliness of your mind, I did.” (chapter 60). It is the quickness of mind that partly helps Elizabeth find the happiness in the marriage with Darcy. To sum up, Elizabeth is a very remarkable young woman whose cleverness and keen observation shine through out the novel. She 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen attracts people by her bright intellect, quick response and ironic wit. In other words, these qualities make her stand out from other simple women like Miss Bingley, Charlotte Lucas, Lydia or Jane and become one of the most laudable female characters in literature. II. Elizabeth Bennet has a strong character Living in a strict society which is full of ties and rules, Elizabeth expresses a great strength in character in fighting against these conventions as well as looking for happiness for herself. Nothing can make her fear or give away; in opposition, she always calmly deals with every circumstances courageously, determinedly and independently even though however difficult the situations are. 1. Elizabeth is a very brave young woman One of the most noticeable characteristics of our heroine is her bravery in both thoughts and actions. A lot of evidence proving this quality can be found throughout the novel and I am sure that the moment of her staying at Rosings Park is an interesting typical example. Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte Lucas, after agreeing to marry the pompous and over-mannered man Mr. Collins, lives with her husband in Hundsfort and hopes Elizabeth will pay her a visit in spring. In spite of not wanting to go, Elizabeth accepts the invitation as she is curious to see whether her friend lives happily in a marriage without love. While staying with the Collins, Elizabeth and the others are often invited to dine at Rosings Park, the large manor of Mr. Collins' patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It is a very big house 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen with the manicured and formally styled garden and luxurious furnishings. Just like her home, Lady Catherine likes to display her wealth and superior status for all to see. Elizabeth immediately realizes the nature of the Lady as haughtiness, pride and imperiousness which make her believe that she can command anyone around her. However, unlike the others, Elizabeth has never been influenced by this powerful woman. During the meals at Rosings Park, Sir William Lucas, Maria and the Collins are very submissive and frightened by the hostess. They only sit there and listen to her boasting on her wealth and giving unasked advices without any resistance. Whereas, Elizabeth, with proper and confident manners, shows no timorousness from stem to stern. Lady Catherine then observed, ``… Do you play and sing, Miss Bennet?'' ``A little.'' ``Oh! then -- some time or other we shall be happy to hear you. Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to -- You shall try it some day. -- Do your sisters play and sing?'' ``One of them does.'' ``Why did not you all learn? -- You ought all to have learned. The Miss Webbs all play, and their father has not so good an income as yours. -- Do you draw?'' ``No, not at all.'' ``What, none of you?'' 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen ``Not one.'' … ``Upon my word,'' said her ladyship, ``you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person. -- Pray, what is your age?'' ``With three younger sisters grown up,'' replied Elizabeth smiling, ``your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it.'' Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence! (Chapter 29) The above dialogue between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine is the most obvious proof of our heroine’s boldness. During the conversation, Lady Catherine puts a series of questions to Elizabeth concerning the upbringing of her sisters and expects to receive the normative and easy on the ear answers from her. Yet, Elizabeth’s responses cannot make the Lady satisfied as she thinks. The young girl is free in expressing her own ideas and her replies to the impertinent and rude questions of Lady Catherine are quite cold and frank. For example, when being asked about personal information, Elizabeth does not hesitate to hold back the answer regardless of the old woman’s feelings. In other words, it is a signal of rebellion against the social principals that an inferior such as herself should challenge a very wealthy and important woman like Lady Catherine. Her brave and admirable reactions to this situation really impresses my mind. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen People, notwithstanding age, gender or social position, have their own weaknesses and Elizabeth is not an exception. However, not everyone can realize their mistakes and be ready to change. There is nothing more difficult than struggling with oneself but Elizabeth proves that she can do it. She is one of the few characters in the novel who have enough courage to acknowledge their faults and deficiencies. Her mother, a woman who does not have any consideration for respecting proper manners and usually embarrasses Elizabeth with her inappropriate comments and schemes to get all her daughters married, is not wise enough to realize her faults. Her youngest sister, Lydia, after eloping with an officer and making the family be afflicted, has no worry or feels ashamed of her action at all. She is even proud to be the first girl in the family to get married. In the contrary, Elizabeth with an outstanding mind can recognize the flaws in her personality and dares to raise the voice to speak them out. When Elizabeth is invited to Rosings Park to have dinner, she is criticized by the Lady Catherine for her skill of playing the piano. Also, it is believed by the Lady that there is a lack of many qualities which an accomplished woman at that time should have in Elizabeth. Instead of hiding her embarrassment, she openly and honestly admits her shortage: “But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault – because I would not take the trouble of practicing. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”(Chapter 30). Elizabeth states that she is not as excellent or proficient in performance as other women but her skill is not as it should be just because of her lack of practicing, not because she has no talent for arts. She indicates that she would play the piano so well as any other woman if she would practice. This candid 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen acknowledgment and criticism of her own character not only reflects the awareness and confidence of Elizabeth in herself but also incites the others’ respect for her. Elizabeth’s bravery in owning up to her failings is shown once again when she approaches Darcy’s letter in which he gives the reasons for all his actions which are previously accused as “ungentlemanly-like manners” by her. Due to the not much good first impressions she has on Darcy because of his misbehaviors to her at the beginning of the novel, Elizabeth has kept her prejudice against him as a proud and snobbish man until she receives his letter. At first, she does not want to read it and if she would not, she might be never able to discover the true nature of Darcy and realize her mistake in judging people. However, Elizabeth then reads the letter with careful intentions and concerns. After that, she distinguishes the fact she has judged Darcy incorrectly. She begins to hold herself responsible for inaccurate opinions and being blinded by subjective thoughts. Although feeling quite miserable and guilty, Elizabeth does not attempt to get away from the unpleasant truth about herself but valiantly faces up to it, quot;Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love has been my folly pleased with the preference of one [Wickham], and offended by the neglect of the other [Darcy], on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance and driven reason away where either was concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.quot; (chapter 36). She criticizes herself for her misjudgments of the two men and comes to the point of saying “I never knew myself”. These words which are said very openly and 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen honestly fully prove Elizabeth’s readiness to acknowledge her own faults, learn experience and make progress. She knows that just after someone recognizes his weak points can he divest himself of them. So, she really steps on the way of uncovering herself at the moment she decides to re-evaluate what Darcy writes in the letter and accept it to be true. In other words, Elizabeth is a kind of self-aware person who can demonstrate ability to face truths and change her mind rationally. Her slanted first impressions of Darcy and Wickham show that she is a human and can be wrong in this field but what makes her superior to other one-dimensioned characters like Lydia, Lady Catherine or Mr. Collins who do not realize their own absurdities is that she dares to admit her unjust opinion of the others and make amends for the wrong doings. It is quite a courageous action which is hardly found in a person. 2. Elizabeth is a very determined young woman Unlike most of the other characters in the novel, Elizabeth is a strong woman who is capable of harmoniously balancing reason and emotion in dealing with every incidents. She does and says whatever she believes it to be right without paying attention to the external forces. The determination in her character really makes her become the most venerable and praiseworthy woman. In the novel, the readers can easily recognize the deep care Elizabeth has for her sister, Jane. When the latter gets ill while at Netherfield, Elizabeth without a moment’s hesitation decides to go there to visit her sister irrespective of her mother’s interference. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the carriage was not to be had; and as she was no horse- woman, walking was her only alternative. She declared her resolution. “How can you be so silly,” cried her mother, “as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt! You will not be fit to be seen when you het there.” “I shall be very fit to see Jane – which is all I want.” “Is this a hint to me, Lizzy,” said her father, “to send for the horses?” “No, indeed. I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing, when one has a motive; only three miles. I shall be back by dinner.” (Chapter 7) In fact, Mrs. Bennet is afraid that Elizabeth’s visiting to Netherfield would make Jane recover from illness quickly and she would not stay there as long as her mother wants. Moreover, the appearance of a girl as the result of walking three miles through the mud is surely not expected to see and the girl’s social image may be affected. Nevertheless, Elizabeth pays attention to nothing of it. Her only concern is Jane and her health so she does not have intention of changing her initial decision. Her answers to her parents are full of willpower and resolution. Her look “with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise” when arriving at Netherfield is a great surprise to the people here but she appears unworried about their comments and views on her. Nothing can make her flinch from difficulties. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Moreover, Elizabeth is really a woman of action who once decides to do something will do it no matter how hard it is. She is very unwavering, particularly shown by her treatment of Darcy when she believes him to have done wrong. As we know, at their first meeting, Darcy has impolite and insulted words on Elizabeth’s beauty making her think so badly of him. At the evening at Longbourn, Sir William Lucas intends to introduce Elizabeth to Darcy as “a very desirable partner” to dance. However, she immediately refuses this offer and does not change her mind no matter how Sir William tries to persuade her. Even though when Darcy himself elegantly asks for her hand, she only smiles and turns away. Later on, when she hears about the fake story that Wickham makes up to leave a stain on Darcy’s reputation she increasingly believes he is a terrible and cruel man. That is the reason for her indifferent and harsh attitudes to Darcy whenever they meet (but this changes after Elizabeth knows the truth of the two men). I can say that it actually takes a great strength of character and resolution to confront such a power man as Darcy who should be treated with respect and courtesy because of his wealth and social status. However, it is a part of Elizabeth’s personality that attracts Darcy as well as the readers of Pride and Prejudice. The strength of mind of our heroine is expressed not only in her actions but also in her words. She is not the least a passive female as well as not afraid about speaking her opinions out whether or not they fit the hearer’s ears or social restrictions placed upon her. Her conversations with Darcy are the clearest examples of her being outspoken. The enormous fortune and dignified title of Darcy has a little bit of influence on Elizabeth. She seems to take any chance to 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen mock him and make him lose face by criticizing him frankly. In her staying at Netherfield, Elizabeth once again refuses Darcy when being asked to dance with him, “You wanted me, I know, to say Yes, that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have therefore made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all--and now despise me if you dare.’” (Chapter 10). She also straightly points out what she believes the nature of Darcy is, “… your defect is a propensity to hate every body.'' (chapter 11) These words are spoken in an ironical and cold voice of the speaker and the purpose of them is nothing more than a signal of challenge sent to the hearer. Elizabeth does not really concern about who she is talking to or how her speeches affect them. To her the most important thing is to express her thoughts freely and candidly. Yet, it does not mean that she is wild and irresponsible for what she says but she always has reasons for it and only says when believing it true. As we know, in the novel, Elizabeth is the only woman receiving proposals from two men, Mr. Collins and Darcy but she declines both of the two first ones with the same reason that the men are not suitable to her. Mr. Collins is too silly and arrogant to become an ideal husband. However, Darcy is quite different. He is very handsome, intelligent and wealthy but he still cannot win Elizabeth’s heart. When Darcy confesses his love for her, she holds no bars condemning him for his reproachable behaviors to Wickham and his unacceptable interference in the relationship between her most beloved sister with Mr. Bingley resulting in their breakup and the breakdown of Jane’s. She rejects Darcy’s proposal so decidedly, quot;do you think consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a beloved sister?quot; and “I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.'' (chapter 34). Her frankness can kill all the affection that Darcy feels for her and make her become an enemy of an extremely influential man but she is unconcerned about this. Though, Darcy is not the only person of the higher class that Elizabeth dares to speak directly to. His aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh - a dangerous noblewoman - also has not enough power to frighten and prevent her from telling her thoughts. When Lady Catherine realizes her nephew’s feelings for the young woman that would fail her plans of marrying him to her sickly daughter, she herself goes to the Longbourn to meet Elizabeth and shows her strong opposition to this relationship. To her surprise, Elizabeth stands up to her with a manner that commands respect and praise as well as sharpen and forthright words. Elizabeth refuses to promise anything about the future of her and Darcy as from the bottom of her heart, she hopes Darcy still loves her and will propose her again. She affirms that no one else besides herself can make influence on her decisions of her own life and happiness, “I am only resolved to act in that manner , which will , in my own opinion , constitute my happiness , without reference to you , or to any person so wholly unconnected with me” (chapter 56). Elizabeth’s confrontation with Lady Catherine shows clearly the determination and presence of mind that allows her to reply to Lady Catherine candidly and validly. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 3. Elizabeth is an independent woman Elizabeth is no suspicion of being the most independent woman in the novel when she is not hesitant to reject the two proposals that can secure a stable and pleasant life for her after Mr. Bennet passes away. The first one comes from Mr. Collins who is rather disgusting, pompous, and ridiculous. It is made known that the Bennets’ estate is entailed on to him because there is no male to inherit it. This also means that the daughters of the family will be left in a poor financial situation which both requires them to marry and makes it more difficult to marry well. After arriving at the Longbourn, Mr. Collins makes a proposal to Elizabeth with a long and absurd speech in which he presents the reasons why she should accept him and such an offer has hardly ever made to her again. However, Elizabeth is intelligent and self-governing enough to realize that he is far from a suitor for her so she politely refused him. quot;I thank you again and again for the honor you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossiblequot; (chapter 19). Elizabeth’s rejection of wedding Mr. Collins is quite unorthodox. She can get a lot of benefits from this marriage as Mr. Collins would provide her with a comfortable house and a financial security. However, she knows that Mr. Collins is intolerable, self-centered, and close-minded so she could never love such a man. Although Elizabeth’s refusal makes her mother very angry, she does not allow herself to marry a man for convenience or economic purposes. Such a brave action of Elizabeth before the prospect of having no means to support herself once her father dies not only shows her strength of character but also shows how much importance she places on the existence of love in a marriage. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Elizabeth treasures love and happiness above the financial standing and will not enter a marriage for any other reason but love. That is the reason for her denying Mr. Collins her hand. The opening line of “Pride and Prejudice” is “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” implies that the only way for women to ensure themselves a stable life is through marriage. Marriage to some certain extent is like a business transaction. In the novel, Jane Austen uses the character Charlotte Lucas to illustrate this point and contrast with Elizabeth’s views on love and marriage. Charlotte is also a smart and well-educated woman like Elizabeth so it really makes Elizabeth surprised when hearing her friend’s decision to wed Mr. Collins. However, in the society where women expects to marry a well-off man even though they are not in love with him aiming at gaining financial security, otherwise they will face homelessness and poverty, Charlotte’s action is understandable. Compared with Elizabeth, Charlotte is older, plainer and more desperate to find a husband so Mr. Collin’s proposal is the rare opportunity to save her from the unpleasant reality, “I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins's character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” (chapter 22). Charlotte is constrained by the fact that all she desires is wealth and stability and it can be achieved just through marrying to Mr. Collins. In her thought, love is not a real concern in marriage. To her closest friend’s choice, Elizabeth exclaims: quot;Engaged to Mr. Collins! My dear 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Charlotte -- impossible!quot;. She completely astonished at seeing Charlotte marrying without affection and it is their opposite points of view on this matter that makes them never be close as before. The second proposal that Elizabeth receives is from the notable man, Darcy. His status and wealth is far superior to her own and such a marriage would be very beneficial to Elizabeth as well as her family. Still, at this time, she refuses him due to her belief that he is an haughty and selfish man, based on Wickham's accusation of Darcy's shameful behavior towards him. She is also furious with him for his intentionally preventing Jane and Bingley's marriage. As said above, Elizabeth’s view is that marriage should be grounded on love, equality and respect. In fact, Darcy is intellectually equal to Elizabeth and the readers can realize this through the smart conversations between the two people. Nevertheless, Elizabeth does not love him enough and has no enough respect for him to accept his offer. In summary, Elizabeth Bennet is so independent and free- spirited for the position in life that she is in. She is fully aware of not only the overcast prospects of her family if she does not get married but also the conventions and pressures of the society on a woman’s finding a husband, but these constraints cannot change her thoughts, feelings, values or behaviors. Money seems to have little importance to Elizabeth as an incentive for marriage. She rejects Mr. Collins because he is personally unsuitable. She rejects Darcy in spite of his property because she thinks that he is an offensive and mean man. Nature is more important to her than physical attraction and love plays the prerequisite role in the process leading to a marriage. In 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen other words, Elizabeth is always in pursuit of happiness, which contrasts strongly with Charlotte’s pursuit of mere comfort. III. Elizabeth Bennet with the theme Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice was first titled First Impressions, and these titles embody the theme of the novel. Both main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, are the victims of these sense-impressions, in which it is usually thought that Elizabeth is guilty of prejudice and Darcy is guilty of pride. However, in fact, Elizabeth has to deal with pride as much as Darcy does. Elizabeth prides herself on her own rational thinking and believes that the decisions she makes are always accurate. Moreover, she is also proud of her ability to assess others rapidly and rightly and considers it as her greatest trait. While she is quite correct about mostly other characters like Mr. Collins with his stupidity, Lady Catherine de Bourgh with her pride and snobbishness, or Mr. Bingley with his easiness and simplicity, her first impressions of Wickham and Darcy cover her eyes in judging the two men. Wickham is first thought to be a gentleman by all but it is, in fact, a mask cleverly hiding his fortune-hunting, immoral, and deceptive nature. His lovely manners and easy-going personality, however, fool Elizabeth (and everyone else in town) into believing that he's a good man whom Mr. Darcy has cheated out of wealth and a career. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Consequently, Elizabeth believes him without questioning all what he tells her of Darcy. Later, she is very disappointed and angry when knowing the truth of the story and the nature of the man she used to feel moved. In the contrary, Elizabeth's first impressions of Darcy is not as sweet as that of Wickham. Elizabeth, after being snubbed and insulted by Darcy at their initial meeting, agrees with Charlotte Lucas that Darcy has a right to be proud, but adds that she could quot;easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.quot; (Chapter 5) Elizabeth is offended by Darcy’s pride, because it is at the expense of her own pride. She perceives in him a coldness and superiority that results in her making a blind stupid mistake. In other words, Elizabeth herself also suffers from the same flaw as Darcy - she is too proud. The young woman prides herself on the fact that she is able to distinguish what others may not notice and that she is superior to most of her family members, thus she entirely trusts her own observations and her own initial assessments of people. That she feels she is objective in judging the character of others leads her to be prejudiced and makes her refuse to reconsider what others talk about Darcy and the reasons of his actions. It is not only what she believes to be pride in Darcy's character but also her prejudice against him due to Wickham’s lies that makes her judge him harshly. Darcy sees this fault of prejudice in Elizabeth, stating that her defect is quot;willfully to misunderstand everybody.quot; When receiving Darcy’s explanation letter, Elizabeth slowly comes to a self-realization of her injustice. Nevertheless, even when she starts to read the letter, she still keep her prejudice: quot;With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield … [H]is style was not penitent, but haughty. It was all pride and insolence.quot;(Chapter 36). 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Though, Elizabeth then begins to think of all the happened events as well as the prejudice that has been built up inside her for a long time. She realizes that her unjust consideration of this noble man is merely the result of her great pride. The moment she painfully cries “How despicably have I acted!... I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities!” (Chapter 36) is also the moment that she gradually escapes from the cloud of prejudice and for the first time inspects Darcy clearly and recognizes his worth. In the end, she comprehends that she is too fallible and should not be too quick and confident to judge others basing on the first impressions. To sum up, Elizabeth represents both aspects of the novel's title, being both proud and prejudicial. She is initially fast to make judgments and so sure of her powers of observation. However, she does not stubbornly sticks to these preconceptions. With realization of her pride and prejudice, Elizabeth begins the process of change that will eventually bring herself and Darcy together. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Chapter 5: Conclusion Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of “Pride and Prejudice”, always sparkles with her wit, youthful high spirits and bold personality. The literature critic, Elizabeth Jenkins writes in her book “Jane Austen: A Biography” that quot;Elizabeth Bennet has perhaps received more admiration than any other heroine in English literature.quot; It is not the idea of only Jerkins but is the general comments of many other reviewers and generations of readers. Through her thoughts, words and actions, no one can deny the fact that Elizabeth is an intelligent girl who possesses a humorous sense as well as a keen capability of observation. Her quickness of mind always helps her to find the right things to do in every circumstance. In the novel, she is described as a beauty and has especially expressive eyes, but what everybody notices about her is her spirited wit and quick responses. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen It is the reason why both her father and Darcy have high opinion of her cleverness and show special affection for her. Elizabeth is not only smart but she also has a strong character. She is very brave to confront with the people who is far more powerful and superior than herself like Lady Catherine and Darcy. Besides, her courage is also shown in her admitting her own faults and weaknesses. She does not hesitate to acknowledge these shortcomings and is prepared to change because she is not the kind of person who forms an idea and sticks to it forever. By accepting the fact that she has misjudged Darcy and Wickham, Elizabeth sharpens her ability to discern character and develops a solidly based self-confidence. In addition, Elizabeth is quite determined and independent in her actions and opinions. She is ready to refuse the marriages that could provide her with a comfortable life and a high standing in the society just because she finds that man does not suit her in terms of intellect and personality. In “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen uses Elizabeth Bennet as a literary device to represent her values and attitudes on the importance of marrying for love. The heroine dares to go against the social conventions that women should marry for their economic benefits. She only weds the man she really loves and respects. This makes the young free-spirited woman differ substantially from the other female characters of the novel. In conclusion, Elizabeth is the soul of the novel and the prestige qualities that she owns make her become one of the top beloved characters in the English literature in particular and the whole world literature in general. 3
    • Character analysis: Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 3