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Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: Character Analysis

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  • 0:01 Jane Bennet
  • 1:48 Relationship with the…
  • 2:56 Response to Wickham
  • 4:09 Relationship with Elizabeth
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly Myers

Kimberly has taught college writing and rhetoric and has a master's degree in Comparative Literature.

In this lesson, we'll get to know Jane Bennet, the oldest Bennet sister in 'Pride and Prejudice.' We'll explore and analyze Jane's character and look at some quotes that can help you get a sense of what's she's like.

Jane Bennet

Each of the five Bennet daughters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is distinct from her sisters. As the oldest, Jane Bennet heads up the group. The two most prominent of Jane's characteristics are her beauty and goodness. Whenever another character talks or thinks about Jane, they usually use one of these words to describe her.

Jane Bennet attracts admirers wherever she goes. As her sister Elizabeth Bennet says, 'Now if every man in the room does not end the evening in love with you then I am no judge of beauty.' Her mother, Mrs. Bennet, is sure that this undeniable beauty will soon net Jane a husband. Mr. Bingley, Jane's future husband, is instantly struck by her angelic serenity, and from that moment on, all of the other women at the ball recede into the background. He even gushes about Jane to his friend Mr. Darcy, 'She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld.' For her part, Jane has this to say about Mr. Bingley: 'He is just what a young man ought to beā€¦sensible, good-humored, lively; and I never say such happy manners! - so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!'

Not only is Jane Bennet beautiful, she is incorruptibly good-natured. She always looks for the best in people, even if there is very little to be found, and always gives them the benefit of the doubt. For example, at one point in the book Elizabeth says to Jane, 'To take the good of everybody's character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad-belongs to you alone.' Jane's responses to three specific situations throughout the plot highlight this tendency.

Relationship with the Bingley Sisters

First, let's look at how Jane Bennet deals with Mr. Bingley's sisters. Despite Mr. Bingley's obvious admiration of Jane, his sisters are less impressed. While they acknowledge that she is a pretty and sweet girl, they also object to her lack of fortune and impressive family connections and steer their brother away by convincing him that Jane is not as interested in him as he believes. Jane's sister, Elizabeth, immediately senses the cold judgment in Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, but Jane is not as perceptive. Jane Bennet believes that the Bingley sisters are her friends long after it becomes obvious to the reader that they are not.

She trusts Miss Bingley's word that the latter's brother is interested in another young woman and assumes that she was mistaken in thinking that he ever cared for her. But when Miss Bingley exchanges snobby judgment for blatant rudeness, Jane realizes that Caroline does not have her best interests at heart. Still, Jane warmly accepts Caroline and Mrs. Hurst as her sisters-in-law after marrying Mr. Bingley.

Response to Wickham

Next, let's consider Jane Bennet's response to the conflict between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. Although there is ongoing confusion about which gentleman is telling the truth throughout the novel, Jane initially tries to write the conflict off as a misunderstanding where both men are actually good.

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