Character Analysis: Pride and Prejudice
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 neighborhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's because she is sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever, but her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others. Jane seems to be her mother’s favorite because of her beauty, which Mrs. Bennet brags and boasts about often.
Elizabeth is around the age of twenty in the novel. Her family calls her "Lizzy", her friends and neighbors call her "Eliza", and the narrator usually calls her "Elizabeth", but her mother never calls her Elizabeth. She is an intelligent young woman who is described as having "a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous". She often presents a playful good-natured impertinence, which does not offend. Early in the novel she is depicted as being personally proud of her mental quickness and her acuity in judging the social behavior and intentions of others. Elizabeth is the second of five sisters and her father's favorite, and is described by him by having "something more of quickness than her sisters"; though she is often distressed and embarrassed by the behavior of her mother and of her younger sisters.
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is an intelligent, handsome, wealthy and reserved gentleman, who often appears snooty or proud to strangers and is the owner of Pemberley. Mr. Darcy's inflated personal pride, snobbish indifference and arrogance cause him to consider Elizabeth Bennet as unworthy and plain, "tolerable" and "not handsome enough to tempt him." However, afterwards he becomes attracted to Elizabeth, and courts her clumsily or “against his better judgment,” while struggling against his continuing feelings of superiority. His arrogance and rudeness enhance his desirability, and they are reconsidered later as a sign of his bottled-up passion for Elizabeth. Women love Mr. Darcy because:
1. He is open and honest
2. He is not defensive at all
3. He does not try to change her but likes her "just the way she is"
4. He knows how to listen
5. He knows how to apologize
6. He is not afraid to change
7. He defends Elizabeth publicly
8. He does something extraordinary and he keeps quiet about it
9. He can be engaging
10. He has a private reputation of kindness and goodness
Bingley is a man of few and very mild principles, whose easiness of temper and want of proper resolution impair his worth in Eliza’s eyes. Bingley lacks Darcy’s pride or self-importance. He values Jane’s beauty and her good nature, which matches his own character. He feels free to pursue his interest in Jane only after his two sisters have given their approval, but his ultimate standard of reference is Darcy. He submits to Darcy’s objections about the marriage, and because of this, many call Mr. Bingley spineless. It is Darcy’s authority that ultimately determines Bingley’s choice in life, supported by Jane’s physical appearance and pleasant character. Even after learning that Darcy had concealed from him the truth about Jane’s presence in London and after Darcy encourages him to revive the relationship with her, Bingley still wants Darcy’s active approval before proposing to Jane.