Elizabeth Bennet The reader sees the unfolding plot and the other characters mostly from her viewpoint. The second of the Bennet daughters, she is twenty years old and is intelligent, lively, playful, attractive, and witty—but with a tendency to judge on first impression (the "prejudice" of the title) and perhaps to be a little selective of the evidence on which she bases her judgments. As the plot begins, her closest relationships are with her father, her sister Jane, her aunt (Mrs Gardiner), and her best friend Charlotte Lucas. As the story progresses, so does her relationship with Mr Darcy. The course of Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship is ultimately decided when Darcy overcomes his pride, and Elizabeth overcomes her prejudice, leading them both to surrender to their love for each other.
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy is the male protagonist of the novel and is twenty eight years old. He is the wealthy owner of the renowned family estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire, and is rumoured to be worth at least £10,000 a year. This is equivalent to anywhere from around £200,000 a year to around £10 million a year in 2014, depending on the method of calculation, but such an income would have put him among the 400 wealthiest families in the country at the time. Handsome, tall, and intelligent, Darcy lacks the social ease that comes so naturally to his friend Bingley. Others frequently mistake his aloof decorum and rectitude as further proof of excessive pride (he is the "pride" of the title). While he makes a poor impression on strangers, such as the landed gentry of Meryton, Darcy is greatly valued by those who know him well.
As the novel progresses, Darcy and Elizabeth are repeatedly forced into each other's company, resulting in each altering their feelings for the other through better acquaintance and changes in environment. At the end of the work, both overcome their differences and first impressions to fall in love with each other.
Mr Bennet is the patriarch of the Bennet family, a gentleman of modest income with five unmarried daughters. Mr Bennet has an ironic, cynical sense of humour that irritates his wife. Though he loves his daughters (Elizabeth in particular), he often fails as a parent, preferring to withdraw from the never-ending marriage concerns of the women around him rather than offer help. In fact, he often enjoys laughing at the sillier members of his family, partially the reason many have fatal faults, as he has not taken pains to amend them. Although he possesses inherited property, it is entailed—that is, it can only pass to male heirs—so his daughters will be on their own upon his death.
Mrs Bennet is the wife of her social superior Mr Bennet and mother of Elizabeth and her sisters. She is frivolous, excitable, and narrow-minded, and she imagines herself susceptible to attacks of tremors and palpitations when she is displeased. Her public manners and social climbing are embarrassing to Jane and Elizabeth. Her favourite daughter is the youngest, Lydia, who reminds her of herself when younger, though she values the beauty of the eldest, Jane. Her main ambition in life is to marry her daughters to wealthy men; whether or not any such matches will give her daughters happiness is of little concern to her.
Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. Twenty-two years old when the novel begins, she is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others. As Anna Quindlen wrote, Jane is "sugar to Elizabeth's lemonade." Jane is closest to Elizabeth, and her character is often contrasted with that of Elizabeth. She is favoured by her mother because of her beauty.
She falls in love with Mr Bingley, a rich man who has recently moved to Hertfordshire, and a close friend of Mr Darcy. Their love is initially thwarted by Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley, who are concerned by Jane's low connections and have other plans for Bingley. Mr Darcy, aided by Elizabeth, eventually sees the error in his ways and is instrumental in bringing Jane and Bingley back together.
Mary Bennet is the only plain (not pretty) Bennet sister, and rather than join in some of the family activities, she mostly reads and plays music, although she is often impatient to display her accomplishments and is rather vain about them. She works hard for knowledge and accomplishment, but she has neither genius nor taste. Like her two younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia, she is seen as being silly by Mr Bennet. Mary is not very intelligent but thinks of herself as being wise. When Mr Collins is refused by Elizabeth, Mrs Bennet hopes Mary may be prevailed upon to accept him and we are led to believe that Mary has some hopes in this direction but neither of them know that he is already engaged to Charlotte Lucas by this time. Mary does not appear often in the novel.
Catherine, or Kitty, Bennet is the fourth daughter at 17 years old. She is the shadow of Lydia, although older than she, she follows in her pursuits of the 'Officers' of the regiment. She appears but little, although she is often portrayed as envious of Lydia and also a 'silly' young woman. However, it is said that she has improved by the end of the novel.
Lydia Bennet is the youngest Bennet sister, aged 15 when the novel begins. She is frivolous and headstrong. Her main activity in life is socializing, especially flirting with the officers of the militia. This leads to her elopement with George Wickham, although he has no intention of marrying her. She dominates her older sister Kitty and is supported in the family by her mother. Lydia shows no regard for the moral code of her society, and no remorse for the disgrace she causes her family.
Charles Bingley is a handsome, good-natured, and wealthy young gentleman of 23, who rents Netherfield Park near Longbourn. He is contrasted with his friend Mr Darcy as being more kind and more charming and having more generally pleasing manners, although not quite so clever. He lacks resolve and is easily influenced by others. His two sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, both disapprove of Bingley's growing affection for Jane Bennet.
Caroline Bingley is the snobbish sister of Charles Bingley, with a dowry of twenty thousand pounds. Miss Bingley harbours romantic intentions for Mr Darcy, and she is jealous of his growing attachment to Elizabeth and is disdainful and rude to her. She attempts to dissuade Mr Darcy from liking Elizabeth by ridiculing the Bennet family in Darcy's presence, as she realises that this is the main aspect of Elizabeth with which she can find fault. She also attempts to convey her own superiority over Elizabeth, by being notably more polite and complimentary towards Darcy throughout. She often compliments his younger sister, Georgiana - suspecting that he will agree with what she says about her. Miss Bingley also disapproves of her brother's esteem for Jane Bennet, and it is acknowledged later that she, with Darcy, attempts to separate the couple. She sends Jane letters describing her brother's growing love for Georgiana Darcy, in attempt to convince Jane of Bingley's indifference towards her. When Jane goes to London she ignores her for a period of four weeks, despite Jane's frequent invitations for her to call upon her. When she eventually does, she is rude and cold, and is unapologetic for her failure to respond to Jane's letters. Jane, who is always determined not to find fault with anybody, is forced to admit that she had been deceived in thinking she had a genuine friendship with Caroline Bingley, the realisation of which she relays to Elizabeth in a letter.
George Wickham has been acquainted with Mr Darcy since childhood, being the son of Mr Darcy's father's steward. An officer in the militia, he is superficially charming and rapidly forms an attachment with Elizabeth Bennet. He spreads tales about the wrongs Mr Darcy has done him, adding to the local society's prejudice, but eventually he is found to have been the wrongdoer himself. He elopes with Lydia, with no intention of marrying her, which would have resulted in her complete disgrace, but for Darcy's intervention to bribe Wickham to marry her.
William Collins, aged 25, is Mr Bennet's clergyman cousin and heir to his estate. He is "not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society". Mr Collins is obsequious, pompous, and lacking in common sense. Elizabeth's rejection of Mr Collins's marriage proposal is welcomed by her father, regardless of the financial benefit to the family of such a match. Mr Collins then marries Elizabeth's friend, Charlotte Lucas.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who possesses wealth and social standing, is haughty, pompous, domineering, and condescending, although her manner is seen by some as entirely proper and even admirable. Mr Collins, for example, is shown to admire these characteristics by deferring to her opinions and desires. Elizabeth, by contrast, is duly respectful but not intimidated. Lady Catherine's nephew, Mr Darcy, is offended by her lack of manners, especially towards Elizabeth, and he later courts her disapproval by marrying Elizabeth in spite of her numerous objections.
Aunt and Uncle Gardiner
Aunt and Uncle Gardiner: Edward Gardiner is Mrs Bennet's brother and a successful businessman of sensible and gentlemanly character. Aunt Gardiner is close to her nieces Elizabeth and Jane. Jane stays with the Gardiners in London for a period, and Elizabeth travels with them to Derbyshire, where she again meets Mr Darcy. The Gardiners are quick in their perception of an attachment between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, and judge him without prejudice. They are both actively involved in helping Mr Darcy arrange the marriage between Lydia and Mr Wickham.
Georgiana Darcy is Mr Darcy's quiet, amiable, and shy younger sister, aged 16 when the story begins. When 15, Miss Darcy almost eloped with Mr Wickham, who sought her thirty thousand pound dowry. Miss Darcy is introduced to Elizabeth at Pemberley and is later delighted at the prospect of becoming her sister-in-law. Georgiana is extremely timid and gets embarrassed fairly easily. She idolises her brother Mr Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy), and the two share an extremely close sibling bond, much like Jane and Elizabeth. She is extremely talented at the piano, singing, playing the harp, and drawing. She is also very modest.
Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth's friend who, at 27 years old, fears becoming a burden to her family and therefore agrees to marry Mr Collins, whom she does not love, to gain financial security. Though the novel stresses the importance of love and understanding in marriage (as seen in the anticipated success of Elizabeth–Darcy relationship), Austen never seems to condemn Charlotte's decision to marry for money. Austen uses Lucas as the common voice of early 19th Century society's views on relationships and marriage.