The novel's protagonist and the second oldest of her five sisters, Elizabeth Bennet is lively, quick-witted, sharp-tongued, bold and intelligent. She is keen and perceptive, but Elizabeth's pride in that very ability engenders a prejudice that almost hinders her happy future with Darcy. Elizabeth is not impressed by mere wealth or titles, rather, she values propriety, good-manners, and virtue.
An extremely wealthy aristocrat, Mr. Darcy is proud, haughty and extremely conscious of class differences (at least at the beginning of the novel). He does, however, have a strong sense of honor and virtue and a degree of fairness that helps him to control his pride after Elizabeth rebukes him for his narrow-minded perspective.
Jane Bennet, the oldest Bennet daughter, is beautiful, good-tempered, amiable, humble, and selfless. Her good nature does result in a level of naiveté, especially when it comes to recognizing the wickedness of others. Her sweetness leaves her vulnerable to injury from insincere friends like Caroline Bingley. A rather static character, Jane remains a model of virtue throughout the novel.
Much like his beloved Jane, Charles Bingley is an amiable and good-tempered person, mostly unconcerned with class differences despite his extraordinary wealth. His virtue proves to be his vice at times, since his modesty leads him to be easily swayed by the opinions of others. A mostly static character, Bingley remains pleasant and in love with Jane throughout the novel.
An officer in the regiment stationed at Meryton, Officer Wickham possesses a charm that hides his dissolute, untrustworthy personality. He was godson to Darcy's father. However, Wickham betrayed Darcy by seducing Georgiana when she was only 15. He also spreads false rumors about Darcy throughout Hertfordshire and Meryton. Overall, Wickham is driven by self-interest, revealed by his many romantic engagements (or lack thereof, in the case of Elizabeth). He is also a static character and marries Lydia only because Darcy provides a financial incentive. In the epilogue, Austen implies that Wickham tires of Lydia after a certain point.
Mrs. Bennet is a foolish and frivolous woman. She lacks any sense of propriety and neglects to provide her daughters with a proper education. Instead, she remains concerned solely with securing them profitable marriages. Her lack of self-awareness constantly embarrasses Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet alike.
An intelligent man with good sense, Mr. Bennet displays an unfortunate disinterest in most of his family (besides Elizabeth). He seems weary after spending many decades married to the interminable Mrs. Bennet. His complacency is shaken only when Lydia's her poor decisions in Brighton threaten her future.
The youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia Bennet is foolish and flirtatious. She gratifies her every whim without considering the consequences. She is Mrs. Bennet's favorite daughter because they share similar (though frivolous) interests. She is obsessed with the regiment officers, and lets her lack of virtue and propriety lead her into a near-disaster with Wickham.
Catherine "Kitty" Bennet, the second youngest Bennet daughter, exhibits little personality of her own. Instead, she imitates Lydia in almost everything until Lydia leaves for Brighton. The epilogue leads the reader to hope that Kitty's character improves as a result of spending time with her elder sisters instead of Lydia.
The middle Bennet sister, Mary, is strangely solemn and pedantic. She dislikes going out into society and prefers to spend her time studying. In conversation, Mary constantly makes awkward and profound observations about human nature and life in general. Some critics believe Mary was a cipher for Austen herself.
Mr. Collins is a distant cousin of the Bennet family to whom Longbourn has been entailed. He is mostly a comic character because of his awkward mix of obsequiousness and pride, as well as the tiresome formalities of his speech. Even after he marries Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Collins remains largely unchanged.
Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth's best friend, the Bennets's neighbor, and Sir William's daughter. Her attitudes on marriage - as a pragmatic transaction rather than as a romantic attachment - stand in stark contrast to Elizabeth's. She eventually marries Mr. Collins after Elizabeth rejects his proposal.
Sir William Lucas
Sir William Lucas is a friend and neighbor of the Bennet family. He is pleasant but not overly deep or intellectual. He is obsessed with having been granted knighthood. He is father to Charlotte and Maria Lucas.
Charlotte's younger sister, Maria, is as empty-headed as her father. She is never featured in the novel outside of her presence on the trip to visit Charlotte with Sir William and Elizabeth.
Mrs. Bennet's sister-in-law acts as a levelheaded maternal figure to Elizabeth and Jane, compensating for Mrs. Bennet's inadequacy in this regard. She is an intelligent, caring and sensible woman. Austen uses the Gardiners as a means to explore the value of personality over class distinction.
Elizabeth's maternal uncle is a merchant, and an upright and intelligent man. Though he is in a lower social class than the Bennets are, Mr. Gardiner is respectful and distinguished, even impressing Darcy with his mannered behavior.
Caroline Bingley is Bingley's youngest sister. She is a superficial and selfish girl, possessing 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. Her cruelty towards Jane and Elizabeth marks her as a generally unpleasant character.
Bingley's elder sister, Mrs. Hurst, is just as arrogant as Caroline, though she is less involved in attacking the Bennet sisters. She seems to have no real affection or esteem for her husband.
Mr. Bingley's brother-in-law is an indolent man. Mr. Hurst 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 solely concerned with the quality of the food.
Darcy's sister Georgiana, ten years his junior, is quiet and shy but generally amiable and good-natured. She has great reverence and affection for her brother and gets along well with Elizabeth from their first meeting. Bingley's sisters had hoped that Mr. Bingley would marry Georgiana, thus uniting the fortunes of the two families.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy's aristocratic aunt and Mr. Collins's patroness, is a sharp-tongued woman obsessed with flaunting her wealth and social superiority. She advises people without solicitation on every aspect of their lives and suffers only flattery.
Miss de Bourgh
Lady Catherine's daughter, Miss de Bourgh, is a frail, weak and sickly woman who is overly pampered by her mother. She speaks little in the novel, but seems to be generally good-natured. Lady Catherine had wanted Darcy to marry Miss de Bourgh, which is the main reason she disapproves of Darcy's union with Elizabeth.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is Mr. Darcy's cousin who accompanies him on his visit to Lady Catherine's home. He is a pleasant and amiable gentleman who shows an interest in Elizabeth, but then confesses he can only marry someone with a large fortune because of his status as a youngest son.
Mrs. Phillips is Mrs. Bennet's sister who shares her foolishness and frivolity. She lives in Meryton and facilitates Lydia and Kitty's obsession with the officers stationed there.
Mrs. Forster is the wife of Colonel Forster and invites Lydia to accompany them to Brighton. The trip enables the near-disaster with Wickham. Mrs. Forster's frivolous nature is implied by her fellowship with Lydia.
A good-natured and basically responsible man, Colonel Forster is the regiment leader who allows his wife to bring Lydia to Brighton. After the disastrous elopement, Col. Forester helps Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet to locate Lydia.
Miss Younge was Georgiana Darcy's governess back when Wickham seduced the young girl. In fact, Miss Younge was crucial towards facilitating Wickham's wickedness. She never features directly in the novel, but she proves to be the key in Darcy's locating Wickham and Lydia.
Mrs. Lucas is married to Sir William and is Charlotte and Maria's mother. Mrs. Bennet often taunts Mrs. Lucas with gossip about the potential marital success of the Bennet girls.
Mr. Denny is a soldier in the regiment who introduces the Bennet girls to Mr. Wickham.
Wickham pursues Miss King, a woman in Meryton, after she inherits a sum of money. Her inheritance distracts Wickham from his flirtation with Elizabeth.
Mrs. Jenkinson Miss de Bough's companion. She pampers the young girl.
Mrs. Reynolds is the estate's longtime housekeeper. She gives Elizabeth and the Gardiners a tour of Pemberley and impresses Elizabeth with her praise of Darcy.
Mrs. Annesley is Georgiana's companion at Pemberley. She shows great civility towards Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner when they visit, even though Bingley's sisters are rude to them.
Pride and Prejudice Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Pride and Prejudice is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think that class structure is the major theme that affects these relationships. While the novel never posits an egalitarian ideology nor supports the leveling of all social classes, it does criticize an over-emphasis on class, especially in...