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No doubt, a woman can understand a woman better. Jane Austen’s skill of characterization of her women characters is far better than of her men characters. We have varieties of women characters in her novels. In ‘Pride and Prejudice’ also we come across different kinds of women characters from different sections of the contemporary society. They are drawn quite realistically.
WOMEN CHARACTERS IN ‘PRIDE & PREJUDICE’
No doubt, a woman can understand a woman better. Jane Austen’s skill of characterization of her women characters is far better than of her men characters. We have varieties of women characters in her novels. In ‘Pride and Prejudice’ also we come across different kinds of women characters from different sections of the contemporary society. They are drawn quite realistically. Each of female character differs from the other. If there is some duplication, as we can see in the case of Lydia and Mrs. Bennet; and Lady Catherine and Miss Bingley, it is calculative, it is intentional, and it is purposeful. We find universal appeal in Jane Austen’s women characters.
The character of Mrs. Bennet is a great comic character of the novel. She is the mother of Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, kitty and Lydia. The only mission in her life to see her daughters married to young, wealthy gentlemen with fortune. She does anything she can for what she wants to do. She insists Jane, her eldest daughter, to go to Mr. Bingley’s place. She makes her stay as much as possible. When Elizabeth, the most sensible of Bennet sisters, refuses Mr. Collins, she gets angry with her. She fears of the reputation of her family and her husband as well after the elopement of Lydia but as soon as she hears of her marriage, she gets mad of joy. When she comes to know about the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy, she talks of Elizabeth’s house in the town, jewelry, carriages and that sort of things.
She is loud, empty-minded, noisy and frequently in hysterics. She does not have very good manners, and openly shares all her thoughts in public, whether they should be aired or not. She is a lady without commonsense. When it seems to her that Mr. Bingley and Jane are moving nearer to each-other, she begins the talks of their marriage in advance in public. She is a lady often creating social blunders.
Whenever she finds herself into pressure, she rushes to her husband Mr. Bennet, who never listens to her seriously and makes fun of her.
Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, is the most beautiful of the five. She is not beautiful outwardly only; she is quite beautiful from her inner too. She is so beautiful that cannot think ill of or about anybody. She sees only good in anybody. She is quite feminine and to some extent, reserve too. She cannot express her feelings. And this trait of her nature leads her to some miserable condition. She is nearer to Elizabeth. She is worried about her family’s reputation. She often discusses with Elizabeth. In this way, she is an angelic character.
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of the novel. Elizabeth is the second of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's five daughters, and is an intelligent, bold and mildly attractive twenty year old lady. She is her father's favourite. She enjoys her father’s treatment to her mother. She shares his views and can understand him properly.
Elizabeth is characterized as a sensible, Intelligent, playful, polite, well-mannered, yet stubborn woman. In the very first meeting with Darcy, she develops prejudice against him. She, then, doesn’t give any chance to Darcy to move nearer to her. She is not afraid of his superior social status. She shows and makes Darcy understood that she is not such a girl as can be tempted. Her fearless personality sets her differ from the others and perhaps, Darcy is attracted majorly by this trait of her nature. With the encounters of Lady Catherine de Bourgh also, she introduces her intelligence, wisdom and firmness of her decision.
She usually recognizes the reality of a situation, and is able to understand people very well. Unlike her older sister Jane, she does not see the absolute best in everyone and every situation. She quietly notes the faults of both the ill-mannered and the proud, but this quality of her nature causes a little pride in her. But at the end of the novel, her pride turns into regret for her misunderstanding for Darcy and eventually into love and marriage.
Lydia is favourite to her mother. She is manner less, self-willed girl. She never listens to any one. She does what she wants to. She is foolish and obsessed of military men. She doesn’t care for the reputation of her family. She runs away with wicked Wickham. When she returns home, she acts as if she has done a great job. She is quite immature, ignorant, idle and vain. But she becomes the cause for the union of Elizabeth and Darcy. Darcy pays to Wickham and gets him married to Lydia. When Elizabeth comes to know about this, she can do nothing else but to love him.
Charlotte Lucas is the neighbour and best friend of Elizabeth. Mr. Collins, having been rejected by Elizabeth, proposes to her she instantly accepts him. Charlotte’s attitude is quite positive one even though she knows what the fact is! According to her, she needs a comfortable home and considering the character, connections and the situation in life of Mr. Collins; she has all the chances of being happy. In fact, she compromises with her choice because she is well aware of the sheer reality that it is very difficult to find out a suitable match for a girl like she who is twenty-seven, not so beautiful and of a small fortune.
Lady Catherine is a tall, large woman, with strongly marked features. Her manners are not friendly and her behavior is not pleasant. She doesn’t wish to let her visitors forget their inferior rank. Whatever she says, is spoken in commanding tone. She is a lady of self-importance. She gives her opinions on every subject in so decisive manner as to make it clear that she is not used to having her judgement contradicted.
She is an arrogant lady representing the high class society. She doesn’t miss the chance to humiliate Elizabeth whenever she gets a chance. She, in a very insulting tone, warns her not to be engaged with Mr. Darcy. She wants to have such promise from her. She also makes her realized that their family is a kind of inferior to theirs.
Miss Bingley, the sister of Mr. BIngley, is also characterized as to represent the young ladies of the high society. She opines about Elizabeth that she is a girl of no manners. She is a wild girl for she has approached there by walking three miles in the bad weather. Elizabeth, to the Bingley sisters, has neither any taste nor beauty. She is jealous of Elizabeth because Darcy loves her and Miss Bingley wants to marry him. At the home of Darcy, she doesn’t miss a chance to insult Elizabeth but Elizabeth tactfully and gracefully reacted which was liked by Mr. Darcy. Miss Bingley grows more jealous of her. After their departure, she tells Mr. Darcy that Elizabeth is looking very bad. She has grown so brown and coarse.
Other minor female characters also play their part very nicely in the novel and they help the story to develop. They all are inter-connected.
Mrs. Gardiner also is a pleasant, intelligent woman with graceful manners. She is a great favourite with her nieces, especially the two eldest, who often stay with her in town.
Catherine Bennet, although older than her sister Lydia, is somewhat of a sidekick to her. She follows everything that Lydia does. But once Jane and Elizabeth marry Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, respectively, Kitty's personality and ways change due to the change in society that she experiences by staying often with two eldest sisters and by the absence of Lydia's corrupting influence.
Mary Bennet is the most serious of all the Bennet girls. She is not very interested in society. She is rather dull and around the age of 18 in the beginning of the novel.
Georgiana Darcy is Fitzwilliam Darcy's younger sister. She is immensely pretty and more than 10 years his junior, only 16 years old. Georgiana is quiet and shy but amiable and good natured.
In addition to this, the characters of Mrs. Reynolds, the house keeper of Darcy, Mrs. Philips, the sister of Mrs. Bennet, Lady Lucas and a few more have their importance in the story.
In this way, Jane Austen has given a variety of characters representing different social level in the novel. They all are quite distinguished and differently drawn. They all are life-like characters which leave long-lasting impression in our mind.
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Kariya, D. (2012). WOMEN CHARACTERS IN ‘PRIDE & PREJUDICE’. PHILICA.COM Article number 334.