Pride and Prejudice Character Analysis

Antonia Blankenberg
Note by , created almost 2 years ago

Discover more about all the main characters in Pride and Prejudice with this study note. Learn about Elizabeth Bennet's traits, Mr Darcy's character and all the other protagonists that shape the novel.

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Antonia Blankenberg
Created by Antonia Blankenberg almost 2 years ago
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Page 1

Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth is the second eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and the main protagonist in Pride and Prejudice.   Elizabeth also goes by the names of Lizzy and Eliza throughout the novel.   There are several traits, both positive and negative, that describe her character, the most important being prejudice.   Intelligence and Wit: Elizabeth's intelligence is a trait that makes her Mr. Bennet's favourite child and Mrs. Bennet's least favourite.   Mr. Bennet often describes Elizabeth as having ""something more of quickness than her sisters".    She takes great pleasure in reading and learning; "'Miss Eliza Bennet,' said Miss Bingley, 'despises cards. She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else.'"   While Elizabeth has  "a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous", she understands that being playful must also be balanced with intellect and competence, unlike Kitty and Lydia.    Elizabeth is usually quick to respond to others with a witty comment and is often one to win an argument, even if she is wrong.   Independence: Throughout the novel, Elizabeth displays an independent mind. She is not easily swayed by others (adding to her prejudice) and is headstrong in her opinions.   Elizabeth's independence makes her stand out from her sisters and Charlotte Lucas, a trait which Caroline Bingley deems "a most country-town indifference to decorum".   Elizabeth doesn't believe in the social construct of marrying for money and security, but instead believes in marrying for love. This is shown in her rejection of Mr. Collins' and Mr. Darcy's proposals.    She doesn't hesitate to correct others, especially Mr. Darcy's belief that women should be talented, intelligent, and beautiful; “I never saw such a woman, I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united”.   When she wants to visit Jane, she doesn't delay and refuses to wait for a carriage. Instead, she walks by herself to see her sister, leaving her dirty and red-faced; "Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within the view of the house, with weary ancles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise".   Prejudice: Elizabeth carries the theme of prejudice throughout the novel. Throughout the story, Elizabeth remains blind to Mr. Darcy's affections, purely because of her dislike towards him.   It can be seen that she takes a dislike to Mr. Darcy from the moment he is introduced into the story. Like many of the other characters, she finds his pride to be irritable, and judges his entire character on that one characteristic. After overhearing Mr. Darcy talking to Mr. Bingley during the ball in Meryton, Elizabeth has made up her mind about his character; " Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him".   Elizabeth lets her poor judgement of Mr. Darcy's character to be confirmed by Mr. Wickham when he speaks ill of Mr. Darcy. Her admiration towards Mr. Wickham grows upon hearing his story surrounding his connection with Mr. Darcy. He claims that Mr. Darcy robbed him of his inheritance, leaving him poor and alone, to which Elizabeth replies; "I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this ... I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in general, but did not suspect him of descending to such malicious revenge, such injustice, such inhumanity as this!".   Elizabeth's feelings towards Mr. Darcy are heightened again when he proposes. In this scene he demonstrates his pride again, giving Elizabeth the satisfaction of denying his hand. These negative opinions towards him only begin to sway when she reads his letter and learns the truth about his relations with Mr. Wickham. After reading the letter "she grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd".   However, we only see her opinions truely change upon her seeing his estate and grounds. Elizabeth is shocked to see the beauty of the estate and imagines herself living there; "At that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!". Of course, Elizabeth falls in love with Mr. Darcy for his actions towards the end of the novel, but this superficial change of mind is shocking considering her emphasis of wanting love, rather than wealth, in a marriage. 

Page 2

Jane Bennet

Jane Bennet is the eldest of the Bennet sisters and is known for her good looks and kind nature.   Jane helps to keep Elizabeth's tendency to be judgmental in check by offering positive interpretations of negative situations.   She sees the best in everybody and assumes that everyone is acting out of the best motives. Even after Mr. Wickham elopes with her youngest sister, she assumes that it was done out of love and with every intention of getting married.    Jane's character and marriage act as a contrast Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy throughout the novel. Where Jane and Mr. Bingley fall in love relatively quickly, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have many ups and downs.   Mr. Darcy breaks up her relationship with Mr. Bingley due to her reserved nature; "Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard … the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such as might have given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched".

Page 3

Lydia Bennet

Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the Bennet sisters. Her silly nature makes Lydia her mother's favourite child.    Lydia's misbehavior stems from a lack of parental supervision on the parts of both her mother and father.   Lydia is flirtatious with all of the men she comes into contact with. While this is harmless at home, Elizabeth warns of the dangers of her actions on her unsupervised trip to Brighton; “‘If you were aware’ said Elizabeth, ‘of the great disadvantage to us all, which we must arise from the public notice of Lydia’s unguarded and imprudent manner; nay, which, has already risen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair’”.    Even when she elopes, Lydia keeps her silly nature. In a letter to her friend Harriet she writes "You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater, when I write to them, and sign my name “Lydia Wickham.” What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing".   Upon returning home after her marriage, she jokes with her mother, saying; "Well, mamma, what do you think of my husband? Is not he a charming man? I am sure my sisters all envy me. I only hope they may have half my good luck. They must all go to Brighton. That is the place to get husbands. What a pity it is, mamma, that we did not all go".    Lydia remains irritable into her marriage with Mr. Wickham, asking Mr. Darcy for money and visiting Jane and Mr. Bingley frequently. 

Page 4

Catherine and Mary Bennet

Catherine (Kitty) and Mary Bennet play small roles in Pride and Prejudice.    Mary is often overlooked as one of the Bennet sisters. She is the middle child and doesn't hold any remarkable traits. Despite the fact that she is studious and was once described as the most accomplished girl in the neighbourhood, she lacks genius and taste, and is also pedantic and conceited.   "Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached".    Kitty is similar to her sister, Lydia. Though she is two years older than Lydia, she was completely under her youngest sister's guidance, and was weak-spirited, irritable, and always affronted by whatever good advice her oldest sisters tried to give her. Together, Kitty and Lydia were described to be "ignorant, idle, and vain".

Page 5

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet: Mrs. Bennet acts as a caricature of the values present in the early 19th Century. She is obsessed with finding wealthy husbands for her five daughters and is overly silly and dramatic.   Mrs. Bennet is concerned with security rather than happiness, as demonstrated by her own marriage to a man she cannot understand and who treats her with no respect. Though it is clear that Mr. Bennet does love her, it is also clear that they did not marry for love. Mr. Bennet finds joy in winding his wife up and teasing her; "her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amuseument".   Mrs. Bennet promotes the bad behaviour of Kitty and Lydia and tries to force Elizabeth into an unwanted marriage with Mr. Collins.   Mrs. Bennet also serves as a middle-class counterpoint to such upper-class snobs as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Caroline Bingley, demonstrating that foolishness can be found at every level of society.   Mr. Bennet: Mr. Bennet is rarely seen outside of his library throughout the book. His physical retreat from the world signifies his emotional retreat from his family.   He acts as a contrast to Mrs. Bennet's silly nature and liveliness. While Mrs. Bennet overreacts to Elizabeth's refusal of Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet assures her that she has done the right thing; "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do".   Though he values intelligence, he doesn't think much about the results of his actions. For example, he sends Lydia to Brighton without thinking that she could elope, even denying Elizabeth's thoughts that she might.

Page 6

Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte Lucas is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet.   Charlotte is an accurate portrayal of the values of 19th Century Britain. The Lucas family are not overly wealthy, so when she reaches the age of 27 without being married, she becomes a burden and there is a fear that she will become an old maid.    As soon as Charlotte gets offered a marriage, she takes it, despite the likeliness that she will remain unhappy. "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance…It is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life" .   Even though she marries for security, she is determined that she will find happiness in her choice; "When you have had time to think it over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins' character, connection, 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.".

Page 7

Fitzwilliam Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a wealthy aristocrat and good friends with Mr. Bingley. Darcy is not actually a titled nobleman, but he is one of the wealthiest members of the landed gentry — the same legal class that Elizabeth's much poorer family belongs to.   Mr. Darcy cares strongly about his closest friends and family. He warns Mr. Bingley of Jane when he believes that she is being ingenuine, and buys out Mr. Wickham twice, first to protect his sister and later to protect Lydia.   Pride: When Mr. Darcy first arrives at Netherfield, he is instantly disliked by those in the surrounding area for his pride and arrogance. He is shown to be cold and aloof, with such a temperament being misconstrued as sheer arrogance. He argues that there is a reason for this pride, however, telling Elizabeth; "where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation".   Mr. Darcy displays his pride from his first scene in the novel. During the Meryton ball, he insults Elizabeth, saying; “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me”. This kickstarts Elizabeth's dislike of him, something that will stand to him for the majority of the novel - “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine”.   Mr. Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth is rather insulting. He makes a point of his social superiority and relations, making Elizabeth angry. We see his pride get in the way of his genuine affection for Elizabeth; “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”.   By the end of the novel, he learns to overcome this trait, becoming “Exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit" Elizabeth.

Page 8

Charles Bingley

Charles Bingley is best friend to Mr. Darcy and owner of Netherfield estate.   Mr. Bingley is an overly positive and optimistic character who is easily swayed by those around him. This is one of the reasons why Mr. Darcy feels that Jane is manipulating him.   Mr. Bingley is set up to be Mr. Darcy's opposite; humble and indecisive. This shines through in his willingness to leave Jane hen Mr. Darcy tell him to.   Despite being convinced to leave Jane, he surely returns. He genuinely cares for Jane, this is shown towards the beginning of the novel while she is sick.   His marriage to Jane portrays the typical marriage of the period and acts as a contrast to the marriages of Elizabeth and Darcy, and Lydia and Mr. Wickham.

Page 9

George Wickham

George Wickham is an antagonistic character of Pride and Prejudice and the husband of Lydia Bennet.   He is introduced as the perfect gentleman and easily wins over Elizabeth by speaking ill of Mr. Darcy. He particularly emphasises Mr. Darcy's pride in this discussion, saying; "Almost all of his actions may be traced to pride; - and pride has often been his best friend. It has connected him nearer with virtue than any other feeling. But we are none of us consistent; and in his behaviour to me, there were stronger impulses even than pride”. This moment plays Mr. Wickham's malice and Elizabeth's prejudice.    Mr. Wickham is most appropriately dressed in the scarlet uniform of the militia because he is a type rather than an individual. He is one of a class of men whom Lydia and Kitty, like their mother before them, are wild about.   Mr. Wickham attempted to elope with Georgiana Darcy in the past but was stopped by Mr. Darcy. This is repeated at the end of the novel with Lydia.

Page 10

Mr. Collins

Mr. Collins is a clergyman and relative to Mr. Bennet.   Because Longbourn estate can't be inherited by the Bennet sisters, it is due to be inherited by Mr. Collins.   Mr. Collins is overly pompous and dedicates himself to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, patroness to his church. One of the main reasons of his searching for a wife is Lady Catherine: "My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness".   Mr. Collins is easily impressed by social status and tries to make connections with Mr. Darcy once he hears about his wealth.   His marriage to Charlotte is used to contrast against the marriages of Darcy and Elizabeth and Bingley and Jane, which stemmed from love.