With the new ITV adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, we take the opportunity to look back at one of the most memorable Austen characters: Elizabeth Bennet. Landing into the literary world in the 1813 publication of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is a stand-out character, full of zest and vivacity. We break down her best traits to find out how to be more Elizabeth Bennet.
Who is she?
The protagonist Elizabeth Bennet is the second of the five Bennet daughters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She marries the infamous Mr Darcy, but not before turning him down several times and insulting most people who get in her way. Although Elizabeth may have been seen as a more challenging character in her day, her feistiness and strong-willed nature make her someone to look up. There has been an incredible amount of adaptations of the novel from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Pride and Prejudice & Emojis, but the strong character of Elizabeth Bennet is always maintained.
Be able to laugh at yourself
Elizabeth Bennet is a classic character that most book lovers admire. As soon as Austen introduces her, the reader is shown a lively young woman full of wit. The truth of the Bennet family circumstances is an upsetting and serious issue. Elizabeth and her sisters need to marry well in order to avoid financial and social ruin. Despite this, Elizabeth possesses the ability to keep a cool head.
“She had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Full of sarcastic comments and snide remarks, Elizabeth plays the clown with words and makes light of certain situations. Sometimes, she does go too far and offends people with her comments, however, she learns to consider the feelings of others and to use her sharp mind in a less harmful way. Be more Elizabeth Bennet by laughing at yourself, not just others! Do not be ashamed of your wit and know that it is okay to be a little ridiculous sometimes.
Know your worth
Class and wealth is a huge theme in all of Austen’s novels. Pride and Prejudice is no exception. Though Elizabeth Bennet lives in a manner of affluence and comfort, this is at stake because she cannot inherit her father’s estate. She must marry for security, but Elizabeth is not one to just take things as they come. Having great confidence in her own status in society, Elizabeth believes herself to be equal to the people around her regardless of their wealth.
“He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Despite her piqued interest in Mr Darcy after seeing Pemberley – his large house and grounds – Elizabeth truly loves Darcy. She is generally fixated on reason but their union is more than practicality; they match with each other on the grounds of built-up mutual respect and determination to maintain stable lifestyles. The 21st century is very different from the 19th century, but Elizabeth Bennet’s values still stand. Know that your worth is not dictated by your wealth and you are entitled to love freely.
Recognise your flaws in order to change
Though she is loved for her humour and boldness, and known for her ability to read people, Elizabeth makes some grand errors of judgement. She soon learns that her assumptions were baseless, and her treatment of Mr Darcy was wrong. Elizabeth’s poor reasoning almost causes her to lose the man she loves.
“ ‘How despicably I have acted’ she cried, ‘I who have prided myself on discernment’ … ‘Till this moment I never knew myself’ ”Jane Austen, Pride and Pejudice
Chapter 26 of Pride and Prejudice features a pivotal moment in Elizabeth’s life. Self-awareness goes through her like shockwaves and she realises, with great remorse, what she had become. Be more like Elizabeth Bennet in the way she transforms. She never loses her charm and her wit, but she eventually grows out of her pride and shakes off her prejudice too.
“I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”Jane Austen, Letter to her sister, 1813
If you are interested in discovering more incredibly crafted Austen characters, then check out our brilliant selection of Jane Austen books. If you want to expand your knowledge in more of the great classic novels then have a browse of our classic fiction books too.
What do you think of Elizabeth Bennet? Do you have a different favourite Austen character? Let us know in the comments below.