Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is an authentic character, allowing readers to identify, sympathize, and grow with her. Unfortunately, Austen does not create a match for Elizabeth who is her equal in terms of characterization. Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth's sometime adversary, beloved, and, finally, husband, is not so carefully crafted as she, for his character is somewhat undefined, made up of only mystery, inconsistency, and conventionality.
Elizabeth is, initially, quick to make judgments and just as quick to hold fast to those preconceptions. In effect, Elizabeth represents both aspects of the novel's title, being both proud and prejudicial. It is not these factors, then, that endear her to readers, but rather the depth of her character in that she develops into a more even-minded person with a rare capacity for self-awareness. For though at one time she has the highest regard for Mr. Wickham and a low opinion of Mr. Darcy, later, though it is her "greatest misfortune" (Austen 61), Elizabeth amends her former thinking by "feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced and absurd" (135). It is evident that she matures into a fully developed woman who can admit, "'Till this moment, I never knew myself'" (135, emphasis mine).
Mr. Darcy is truly an enigma. Though he is apparently handsome, his physical attributes are nondescript; readers may learn more about this powerful figure's person and tastes from the description of Pemberley, his grand estate. If Pemberley is indeed an extension of, or a reflection of, Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth's pondering that "to be mistress of Pemberley might be so...
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... "exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her" (Austen 199).
Auerbach, Nina. "Waiting Together: Pride and Prejudice." Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton and Co., 1993. pp. 336-348.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton and Co., 1993.
Harding, D. W. "Regulated Hatred: An Aspect in the Work of Jane Austen." Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton and Co., 1993. pp. 291-295.
Johnson, Claudia L. "Pride and Prejudice and the Pursuit of Happiness." Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton and Co., 1993. pp. 367-376.
Mudrick, Marvin."Irony as Discovery in Pride and Prejudice." Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton and Co., 1993. pp. 295-303.
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