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Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. She is, sometimes, called as Lizzy or Eliza by her family members and relatives and friends. The novel centres on her attempts to find love and happiness within the society she lives in, particularly concerning her relationship with the apparently cold, proud and distant Mr. Darcy. She is generally considered both one of Austen’s most popular and endearing heroines and one of the most popular female characters in British literature.
SECRET OF ELIZABETH'S CHARM IN 'PRIDE AND PREJUDICE'
Introduction to the Novel:
‘Pride and Prejudice’ is the most celebrated of Jane Austen’s novels. It is a story of love, attraction and marriage of Bennet sisters, especially of Elizabeth, the protagonist of the novel. Through out the novel, matrimonial issues are at the center of all the actions.
Introduction to the Character of Elizabeth:
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. She is, sometimes, called as Lizzy or Eliza by her family members and relatives and friends. The novel centres on her attempts to find love and happiness within the society she lives in, particularly concerning her relationship with the apparently cold, proud and distant Mr. Darcy. She is generally considered both one of Austen's most popular and endearing heroines and one of the most popular female characters in British literature.
Her Place in the Family:
Elizabeth is the second of the five daughters in the Bennet family. In comparison with her sisters, she is depicted in the novel as being the more well-read and ready-witted. Her elder sister Jane is considered to be the beautiful one but Elizabeth is frequently referred to as her father's favourite. However these two are the closest of the sisters and they are more mature also. She frequently shares her father’s sardonic amusement at both the antics of her mother and younger sisters Mary who is the quiet and unattractive one, Kitty and Lydia who are mad after the military officers and the social mores and absurdities of the time. Elizabeth is described as being the child that her mother is "least fond" of.
Her Friendly Approach to Jane:
Elizabeth is considered physically attractive, and much is made in the novel of her 'fine eyes'. She is also a loving and devoted friend, acting as counsel and confidante to Jane, who despite being elder and considered the 'beautiful' one is more shy and reserved. Elizabeth, in her family, is nearest to Jane. She shares Jane’s sorrows and consoles her. When she comes to know that Darcy played an important role in keeping Bingley away from her sister Jane, she makes up her mind not to forgive him. She often worries about Jane, herself and the other sisters that her family background and the follies of her mother and Lydia will be proved obstacles on their way to marriage. Jane and Elizabeth are more like friends than like sisters. She often advices, instructs and tries to understand Jane and she greatly cares for her.
Elizabeth is also characterized as being more assertive and confident, and not easily cowed down by those with higher social ranking than herself, such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr. Darcy. In the very first meeting, Darcy remarked as ‘not handsome enough’ about her. She takes it in her mind and succeeds tempting him. She, then, refuses Darcy’s dance proposals several times. When Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes to her and suggests her to refuse Darcy’s proposal, she denies to do so. She is not the girl whom superiors can make bowed down. At Lady Catherine’s place also, she is the only girl that doesn’t come under her impression and answers all her questions without fear and tactfully as well.
She is, to some extent, stubborn, proud and judgmental also. Except the first meeting of her with Darcy, Darcy tries to mix up with her, dance with her, move closer to her but her stubbornness doesn’t respond him positively. When Darcy takes interest in her playing on the piano at Lady Catherine’s place, her proud misunderstands his action and she warns him that he will not be able to frighten her. Listening to Wickham and Fitzwilliam, she soon judges that Darcy is not the man as to whom she should rely upon. Of course, she is wrong in her judgment about Darcy and Wickham but she is right in her judgment about her younger sister Lydia that some day, she will put the family into troubles. It really happens.
Her Role in the Novel:
The main story-line of the novel moves around Elizabeth's relationship with Mr. Darcy, a wealthy yet proud young man who makes some insulting remarks about her at a formal dance, criticizing her appearance as being 'not handsome enough to tempt me'. This leads Elizabeth to develop an initial disliking of Darcy. Her prejudice for him is also fueled by Darcy's interference in the relationship between Jane and his friend Mr. Bingley. Furthermore, she meets George Wickham, the charming and personable young soldier, and falls slightly in love with him. George Wickham succeeds in making him believe that Darcy is really a proud, arrogant and vicious man who ill-treated him and kept deprived of late Mr. Darcy’s property. As a result, when Darcy who, much to her surprise, has fallen in love with her, proposes marriage to her, she angrily refuses him. She comes to her senses only when she receives a letter from him revealing the motives for his interference in Jane and Bingley's relationship. The letter informs the full account of his dealings with Wickham, and she is convinced and learnt that a dishonourable character is hiding beneath Wickham's outward pleasantness. Lydia’s elopement with Wickham proves an eye-opener to Elizabeth. She learns that Darcy is the man who has fulfilled the economical demand of Wickham and helped saving her family from a great humiliation by getting Lydia married to Wickham. Over the course of the novel, Elizabeth, now, is forced to re-evaluate her opinions of and feelings for Darcy, and she realizes that her feelings for him have come full circle, and she accepts him as her life partner.
In this way, the character of Elizabeth leaves long lasting image in the readers’ mind for the good appearance, intelligent, self-respect, wise, careful, wit and the truth in her personality. About Elizabeth, Jane Austen wrote in a letter, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature 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."
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Kariya, D. (2012). SECRET OF ELIZABETH’S CHARM IN ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’. PHILICA.COM Article number 328.