Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: Character Analysis

Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: Character Analysis
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  • 0:01 Pride & Prejudice
  • 1:12 Who Is Elizabeth Bennet?
  • 2:35 Context & Time Period
  • 4:15 Elizabeth's Legacy
  • 4:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of Jane Austen's most famous novel ''Pride and Prejudice''. In this lesson, discover who Elizabeth Bennet is, how she compares to most young women of the 1800s, and what her legacy is.

Pride and Prejudice

The name 'Jane Austen' typically conjures romantic images and quotes set against the backdrop of a romantic English country estate. The words Pride and Prejudice do pretty much the same thing. But what about the characters who inhabit these places? In 1813, Jane Austen published the first edition of her novel Pride and Prejudice, introducing the world to perhaps her best-known heroine, Elizabeth Bennet.

First, let's briefly orient ourselves in the world of the novel. Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of the story, is the second oldest of five daughters spawned by Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, who own a small country estate. Mr. Bennet, while more sensible than his wife, pays little attention to the rules of society. Mrs. Bennet, on the other hand, enjoys dancing, parties, and dragging her daughters haphazardly toward the altar. The novel follows Elizabeth as she navigates all the trappings of country wealth, deals with her sometimes insane family members, has a few slip ups because of, you guessed it, her pride and her prejudice, and ultimately finds happiness in the arms of Mr. Darcy.

Who is this Elizabeth Bennet?

At the beginning of the novel, Elizabeth (or Lizzie) Bennet is twenty years old, unmarried, and usually at odds with her mother, who wishes Elizabeth would care more about marriage. Elizabeth is often described as being her father's favorite daughter for her intelligence, wit, and playful sense of humor. She's often sarcastic and holds onto her initial judgments of people she meets; the irony, of course, as the reader begins to see throughout the novel, is that Elizabeth always thinks her initial judgments are correct, and that allowing herself to give second chances is stupid.

But, as the title suggests, Elizabeth has to deal with this prejudice in a very real way after her much younger sister has eloped with Mr. Wickham, a man Elizabeth initially thought was trustworthy. Ironically, Elizabeth initially distrusts the much more honest and upstanding Mr. Darcy in favor of Mr. Wickham.

Not only is she downright spunky and mouthy (in an awesome way), Elizabeth is book smart as well. She loves reading, as well as being outside. In fact, she loves walking almost as much as she loves her older sister, the sweet, quiet Jane. In one particular instance, Jane becomes sick while staying at a house a few miles away from home. Rather than wait for news of Jane's condition, Elizabeth puts on her boots and journeys to care for her sister.

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