Pride and Prejudice Characters
by Jane Austen
Elizabeth BennetThe protagonist of the novel and the second oldest of five sisters, Elizabeth is lively, quick-witted, sharp-tongued, bold and intelligent. Elizabeth is good-looking, and is especially distinguished by her fine eyes. The importance of her eyes may be symbolic of her abilities of perception. She has pride in her abilities to perceive the truth of situations and of people's characters. However, her perceptive abilities fail her frequently because she is influenced by vanity and judges people rashly. By the end of the novel she overcomes her prejudice through her dealings with Darcy. Elizabeth is concerned with propriety, good-manners, and virtue, but is not impressed by mere wealth or titles.
Mr. DarcyAn extremely wealthy aristocrat, Darcy is proud, haughty and extremely conscious of class differences at the beginning of the novel. He does, however, have a strong sense of honor and virtue. Elizabeth's rebukes after his first proposal to her help him to recognize his faults of pride and social prejudice. It is, in fact, precisely because Elizabeth is not so awed by his high social status as to be afraid to criticize his character that he is attracted to her. The self-knowledge acquired from Elizabeth's rebukes and the desire to win Elizabeth's love spur him to change and judge people more by their character than by their social class.
Jane BennetJane is the oldest in the family. Beautiful, good-tempered, sweet, amiable, humble and selfless, Jane is universally well-liked. She refuses to judge anyone badly, always making excuses for people when Elizabeth brings their faults to her attention. Her tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt leads her to be hurt by insincere friends such as Caroline Bingley, although in the end her judgments seem to be more accurate than Elizabeth's overall and to do her much less harm. Jane is a static characteras she is basically a model of virtue from the beginning, there is no room for her to develop in the novel.
Charles BingleyMr. Bingley, much like Jane, is an amiable and good-tempered person. He is not overly concerned with class differences, and Jane's poor family connections are not a serious deterrent to his attachment to her. Bingley is very modest and easily swayed by the advice of his friends, as seen in his decision not to propose to Jane as a result of Darcy's belief that Jane is not really attached to him. Also like Jane, Bingley lacks serious character faults and is thus static throughout the novel. His character and his love for Jane remain constant; the only thing that changes is the advice of Darcy, which leads him not to propose to Jane in the beginning of the novel but to propose to her in the end.
Mr. WickhamAn officer in the regiment stationed at Meryton, Wickham is quickly judged to be a perfectly good and amiable man because of his friendliness and the ease of his manners. He initially shows a preference for Elizabeth, and she is pleased by his attentions and inclined to believe his story about Darcy. Yet while Wickham has the appearance of goodness and virtue, this appearance is deceptive. His true nature begins to show itself through his attachment to Miss King for purely mercenary purposes and then through Darcy's exposition of his past and through his elopement with Lydia, deceiving her to believe that he intends to marry her.
Mrs. BennetMrs. Bennet is a foolish and frivolous woman. She lacks all sense of propriety and virtue and has no concern for the moral or intellectual education of her daughters. From the beginning of the novel her sole obsession is to marry off her daughters. She is perfectly happy with Lydia's marriage, and never once censures her daughter for her shameful conduct or for the worry she has caused her family. Her impropriety is a constant source of mortification for the Elizabeth, and the inane nature of her conversation makes her society so difficult to bear that even Jane and Bingley decide to move out of the neighborhood a year after they are married.
Mr. BennetAn intelligent man with good sense, Mr. Bennet made the mistake of marrying a foolish woman. He takes refuge in his books and seems to want nothing more than to be bothered as little as possible by his family. His indolence leads to the neglect of the education of daughters. Even when Elizabeth warns him not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton because of the moral danger of the situation, he does not listen to her because he does not want to be bothered with Lydia's complaints.
Lydia BennetThe youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia is foolish and flirtatious, given up to indolence and the gratification of every whim. She is the favorite of Mrs. Bennet, because the two have such similar characters. Lydia is constantly obsessed with the officers in the regiment, and sees no purpose to life beyond entertainment and diversion. She lacks any sense of virtue, propriety or good-judgment, as seen in her elopement with Wickham and her complete lack of remorse afterward.
Catherine (Kitty) BennetKitty seems to have little personality of her own, but simply to act as a shadow to Lydia, following Lydia's lead in whatever she does. The end of the novel provides hope that Lydia's character will improve by being removed from the society of Lydia and her mother and being taken care of primarily by Jane and Elizabeth.
Mary BennetThe third oldest of the Bennet sisters, Mary is strangely solemn and pedantic. She dislikes going out into society, and to prefers to spend her time studying. In conversation, Mary is constantly moralizing or trying to make profound observations about human nature and life in general.
Mr. CollinsA clergyman and an extremely comical character because of his mix of obsequiousness and pride, Mr. Collins is fond of making long and silly speeches and stating formalities which have absolutely no meaning in themselves. For Mr. Collins, speech is not a means to communicate truth but a means to say what he thinks the people around him want to hear or what will make the people around him think well of him. He is in line to inherit Longbourn once Mr. Bennet dies, and wants to marry one of the Miss Bennets to lessen the burden of the entailment. When Elizabeth refuses him, he considers his duty discharged and transfers his affections to Charlotte Lucas.
Charlotte LucasCharlotte acts as a foil to Elizabeth by embodying the opposite view of marriage. Charlotte makes no attempt to find a husband whom she loves and esteems, but simply gives in to the necessity of acquiring financial security through marriage. She deals as well with Mr. Collins as is possible, but Elizabeth doubts their long-term happiness.
Sir William LucasA pleasant but not overly deep or intellectual man, he is a friend of the Bennet family. He is civil but his conversation is basically limited to empty observations and descriptions of his presentation and knighthood. Elizabeth accompanies him and his younger daughter Maria to visit Charlotte.
Maria LucasCharlotte's younger sister, she is as empty-headed as her father. Her only role in the novel is to travel with Elizabeth and Sir William to visit Charlotte.
Mrs. GardinerAn intelligent, caring and sensible woman, Mrs. Gardiner acts a mother to Elizabeth and Jane, filling in for the inadequacy of Mrs. Bennet. She brings Jane to London with her in order to help cheer her up when she is heartbroken because of Bingley's failure to return to Netherfield, and she advises Elizabeth to avoid encouraging Wickham's affections. She attempts to help Lydia see why her elopement with Wickham was wrong, but Lydia is completely inattentive.
Mr. GardinerMr. Gardiner is a merchant, and is an upright and intelligent man. The fact that he earns his money by working puts him in a lower social class than those who simply live off the interest of their land. Like his wife, Mr. Gardiner is one of those people whom Austen portrays as a natural aristocrat, and whom Darcy comes to like after overcoming his class prejudice.
Caroline BingleyMiss Bingley is a superficial and selfish. She has all of Darcy's class prejudice but none of his honor and virtue. Throughout the novel she panders to Darcy in an attempt to win his affections, but to no avail. She pretends to be a genuine friend to Jane but is extremely rude to her when she comes to London. She also tries to prevent the marriage of Jane and Bingley and to prevent Darcy's attachment to Elizabeth by constantly ridiculing the poor manners of Elizabeth's mother and younger sisters.
Mrs. HurstBingley's other sister, Mrs. Hurst's character basically matches that of her sister Caroline. She seems to have no real affection or esteem for her husband.
Mr. HurstAn indolent man, he does almost nothing but eat and entertain himself by playing cards. He never says an intelligent word in the entire novel, and seems to be concerned only with the quality of the food.
Georgiana DarcyGeorgiana is Darcy's sister and is ten years his junior. She is quiet and shy but amiable and good-natured. She has great reverence and affection for her brother. She and Elizabeth get along well and become good friends after Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy. Bingley's sisters had hoped that Bingley would marry Georgiana, thus uniting the fortunes of the two families.
Lady Catherine de BourghLady Catherine is extremely wealthy and likes to let others know of their inferiority to her. She loves to give people advice about how to conduct their lives down to the minutest details, loves to hear flattery from others and hates to be contradicted. Extremely conscious of class differences, she attempts to prevent Darcy from marrying Elizabeth but actually unwittingly gives him the courage to propose a second time.
Miss de BourghMiss de Bourgh is a frail, weak and sickly child who is extremely pampered by Lady Catherine. She speaks little in the novel but seems to be generally good-natured. Lady Catherine had wanted Darcy to marry Miss de Bourgh.
Colonel FitzwilliamA cousin of Mr. Darcy and a pleasant and amiable gentleman, he is a companion to Elizabeth during her stay with the Collinses. Colonel Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth that he must marry someone with a large fortune because he is the second son, the first case in the novel where a man's marriage choices are constrained by financial need.
Mrs. PhillipsMrs. Phillips is Mrs. Bennet's sister, and shares her sister's foolishness and frivolity. She lives in Meryton, and the Bennet sisters, particularly Lydia and Kitty, often visit her in order to socialize with the officers.
Mrs. ForsterThe wife of Colonel Forster, who is the head of the regiment stationed at Meryton, she becomes friends with Lydia and invites her to spend the summer with them in Brighton. She is clearly not very responsible in her supervision of Lydia, and seems to have a rather frivolous character.
Colonel ForsterA good-natured and basically responsible man, Colonel Forster tries to do all that he possibly can to help the Bennets recover Lydia after her elopement with Wickham. While the elopement is not his fault, Lydia was under his care and he did not seem to be observing her conduct very closely.
Miss YoungeMiss Younge was Georgiana Darcy's governess at one point and conspired with Wickham to get Georgiana to elope with him. Clearly lacking in all moral sense, she is mentioned in the novel again when Darcy bribes her to tell him the whereabouts of Wickham and Lydia.
Pride and Prejudice Essays and Related Content
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