English Literature GCSE - Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet Character Study

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  • Created on: 17-05-12 19:47

Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth is described as having a 'lively, playful disposition' and is her father's favourite; he says tha she possesses 'something more of quickness than her sisters' and these qualities are very much in evidence from the beginning of the book. She make lively conversation and shows a great enjoyment of music, dancing and physical activity. She is offended by Darcy's rather contemptuous remark about her beauty - 'she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me' - but chooses to make a joke of it, and she is much shrewder than her sister Jane, especially when judging the behaviour of Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst.

Her prejudice against Darcy made her 'perfectly unaware' that his feelings towards her were beginning to change. Noticing that he is listening to her conversations, she decides to be 'impertinent' rather than 'grow afraid of him' and he delight in provoking her. Her conversations with him at Netherfield show her wit and intelligence; she is not intimidated by her company and does not hesitate to express her own opinions, often demonstrating a lively sense of humour:

     '"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women.

       I rather wonder at your knowing any"'

She admits her enjoyment in laughing at others - not in a critical way but to enjoy the 'Follies and nonsence, whims and inconsistencies' which many people demonstrate in thier characters, but 'turned away to hide a smile' when Darcy confirms his belief that pride is a good quality'. Elisabeth's lively mind is on of the qualities Darcy comes to admire. In going to Netherfield Elizabeth acts impulsively but in a way which demonstrated an affectionate concern for her sister's health. She also feels an acute sense of embarrassment at her mother's behaviour when she completely misunderstands one of Darcy's comments. She is furth embarrassed by the behaviour of nearly every member of her family at the Netherfield ball and could not decide whether Darcy's 'silent contempt' was worse to bear than the 'insolent smiles' of Bingley's sisters. She had earlier provoked him into feeling annoyed with her for her comments about his character, with thier implied crutucusn if gus treatment of Wickham. Elizabeth has yet to learn initial attraction to Wickham, leads her to believe his story entirely, showing that her judgements are not always to be trusted.

The strength and good sense of Elizabeth's character is shown when hermother tries to bully her into accepting Mr Collins' proposal. She is horrified that her friend Charlotte could accept him, but after her initial outburst, manages to regain her composure and, showing her natural good manners, wish her 'all imaginable happiness'. To Jane, however, she admits her true feelings:

      '"Mr Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man.......and........ the

       woman who marries him cannot have a proper way of thinking"'

Elizabeth believes that Charlotte has sacrificed her integrity to opportunity - that of making a financially secure and respectable marriage - but she knows that she…


Paul Dutton


Plenty of useful information on this character.  Important quotes are included as well.

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