Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Character of Elizabeth

Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Character of Elizabeth

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The Character of Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice

 
  In her novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen portrays Elizabeth Bennet as "strong and intelligent, yet bewitching in a completely feminine way". Elizabeth's possession of these attributes: strength of character and moral integrity, great intelligence, and an attractive personality, make her an admirable person. Yet Elizabeth has faults, which makes her more human. Austen's portrayal of Elizabeth is realistic and masterful, often juxtaposing her with characters lacking her attributes to heighten our appreciation of her.

The claim that Elizabeth is strong is indisputable. The strength of her personal integrity is highly evident in her refusal of Darcy's first marriage proposal. At the time, she believed Darcy to be arrogant and selfish, based on Wickham's account of Darcy's disgraceful behaviour towards him. She was also furious with him for ruining Jane's chance of happiness (through marrying Bingley). Yet, it would have been prudent for her, a girl with only £1,000 and 4% interest annually from it, to marry Darcy, whose estate is worth £10,000 a year. She never wavers, though -- "her intentions did not vary for an instant". The strength of her convictions and loyalty towards her sister made her reject his offer, and with it, probably all possibility of her every marrying "well" and securing a comfortable future. Also, she was not intimidated by Darcy's wealth and high social status, daring to tell him exactly what she thought of him and to risk his anger by offending him -- "You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it." It is very clear that Elizabeth's principles are uncompromisable.

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...on & Company, 1966. 374-388.

Litz, A. Walton, Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development. Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 198.

Moler, Kenneth. Pride and Prejudice: A Study in Artistic Economy. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1989.

Mullane, Janet & Wilson, Robert Thomas, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1988, Vol. 19, pp. 2, 4-8, 14, 17, 32, 42, 55-6, 58, and 66-7.

"A Review of 'Pride and Prejudice,'" Critical Review, Vol. 3, No. 3, March, 1813, pp. 318-24.

Southam, B.C., (ed.), Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. Landon, NY: Routledge & Kegan Paul - Barres & Nobel Inc., 1968.

Weldon, Fay. Readings on Jane Austen Taplinger Publishing Co. Inc, 1984 in. Ed.

Wright, Andrew H. "Feeling and Complexity in Pride and Prejudice." Ed. Donald Gray. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1966. 410-420.

 

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