Elizabeth Bennet Character notes

Revision notes on the different aspects of Elizabeth Bennet's character

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Elizabeth Bennet
Elizabeth is the heroine of the novel - she is used by the narrator more than any other
character in the novel as a centre of consciousness from which to view events.
She is the second oldest of the Bennet sisters and Mr Bennet's favourite daughter.
The novel focuses on her changing relationship with Darcy and the development of
Elizabeth's character also.
Elizabeth is playful and lively - which are unusual characteristics for a women to have in the
Regency period, when the behaviour of a women was strictly controlled by social
Intelligent: 'Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.' - her 'quickness'
of mind is made evident in her taste for witty and teasing conversations, in which she
likes to adopt striking and independent views.
Playful: 'she had a lively, playful disposition'
Opinionated: 'you give your opinion very decidedly'.
Elizabeth often expresses her opinion in a playful manner - she teasingly challenges Darcy to
'despise me if you dare'. However, she is also able to be plain and straightforward - for
example, rejecting Mr Collins's proposal by telling him 'You could not make me happy'.
Austen gives Elizabeth's character flaws in order to make her more interesting and realistic.
As the book progresses, the reader starts to share more of Elizabeth's thoughts and see her
more inwardly, often by the means of the technique called free indirect discourse, through
which the reader is presented thoughts in the manner of indirect speech.
Elizabeth's humour:
Elizabeth has a great capacity to laugh at the absurdities of the world - she says to Miss
Bingley and Darcy, 'I dearly love a laugh'.
Her capacity to laught at the absurdities of human nature is combined with laughter at her
own expense - when she gaily replies to the newly engaged Jane's wish for to be as happy
as herself, 'Perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr Collins in time'.
We are told after Darcy refused to dance with her, that 'She told the story with great spirit
amongst her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything
ridiculous'. It is this quality of humour that attracts Darcy.
However, her rival, Miss Bingley, calls it 'that little something, bordering on conceit and
She shares her capacity for irony with her father, and with the narrator (Austen). This allows
her to stand away from situations and offer judgements on them, sometimes in the form of
saying the opposite of what she really means - for example, she remarks that 'Mr Darcy is all
politeness', as a way of avoiding dancing with him. Here, she is referring to his rudeness to

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Elizabeth's physical appearance:
Elizabeth's figure is 'light and pleasing', and her most striking physical attribute is her dark
eyes, whose 'beautiful expression' catches Darcy's attention very early in the novel. - Darcy
finds that this expression makes her face 'uncommonly intelligent' and this combination of
intelligence, beauty and vitality in her look impresses him deeply.
She is shorter than Georgiana Darcy and slighter than Jane.…read more

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She stubbornly ignores anyone's opinion that strives to defend Darcy - she immediately
accepts Wickham's story about him - 'since he is unacquainted with several parts of the story,
and has learnt the rest from that friend himself, I shall venture still to think of both gentlemen
as I did before.'
Prejudice makes her blind to all of Darcy's good points, and all of Wickham's suspicious
behaviour.…read more

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Darcy's Letter reveals to Elizabeth her own prejudice - she calls herself 'blind, partial,
prejudiced, absurd.' Her reaction shows that she's honest enough to admit that she was
wrong, and brave enough to confront her flaws.
The change in Elizabeth's relationship with Darcy, shows that she is willing to change her
opinions. Austen uses this to show how she develops as a character.…read more

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For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and
laugh at them in our turn?'.
Especially in the second part of the novel, Elizabeth has a seriousness that her irresponsible
father lacks. She is no longer willing to laugh at the follies of her family, and she even makes
a severe judgement of her father as part of these follies, reflecting on his 'continual breach
of conjugal obligation and decorum'.…read more

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Elizabeth's development is most marked in her coming to understand the character of a
complex and good man, to appreciate the intensity and consistency in his love for her, and to
love him in return.…read more


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