- "I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."
- —Lizzy about Mr. Darcy's pride.
Elizabeth Darcy (née Bennet) is the female protagonist of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and has four sisters; Jane, Mary, Catherine (Kitty), and Lydia. The family lives in Hertfordshire at the estate of Longbourn, near the village of Meryton. The novel primarily focuses on Elizabeth's evolving relationship with Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Meeting Mr. Darcy Edit
Elizabeth is not as enthusiastic as her mother or her sisters when Mrs. Bennet learns that wealthy bachelor Charles Bingley has purchased Netherfield, one of the great estates near Meryton. At a ball in Meryton, when Mr. Bingley arrives, he expresses an interest in Elizabeth's sister, Jane, which delights Elizabeth. However, when she overhears his wealthier friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, snub Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her, she immediately develops a dislike towards him. She promises herself to never dance with him.
When Jane is invited to dine at Netherfield by Mr. Bingley's sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, Mrs. Bennet sets her up to fall sick and have to stay at Netherfield. Lizzy immediately heads to Netherfield to take care of her sister. While not attending to Jane, she often engages in a battle of wits with Mr. Darcy. They return home when Jane eventually gets better.
Meeting Mr. Wickham Edit
Soon after, the Bennets are visited by William Collins, Mr. Bennet's cousin who is to inherit the entailed Longbourn estate. Mr. Collins looks to "extend an olive branch" by marrying one of the Bennet daughters. He sets his sights on Elizabeth, but Elizabeth is not interested in him at all.
Elizabeth meets George Wickham, an officer who has arrived with the militia to stay in Meryton. She notices that he and Mr. Darcy have a tense encounter when they see each other. She asks Mr. Wickham about it. He tells her that he was the godson of Mr. Darcy's father, and was raised with him. When his godfather died, he was supposed to inherit a living at a parsonage, but Mr. Darcy refused to give it, leaving Wickham to provide for himself by joining the army. Appalled at Mr. Darcy's behavior, Elizabeth's dislike for him grows, while she gains an affection for Wickham.
The Netherfield Dance Edit
At the Netherfield ball, Elizabeth is disappointed to not see Wickham. She is shocked when Mr. Darcy asks her to dance, and accepts, unprepared by the request. During the dance, she again engages him in a battle of wits. She brings up Wickham, hoping to make him uncomfortable, and it works. Though Mr. Darcy meets her challenge, the two are still as tense with each other as before. At dinner, Elizabeth is embarrassed by the inelegant and uncouth behavior of her mother, her younger sisters, and even Mr. Collins.
The following day, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, but she flatly rejects him. Though her mother is outraged by her refusal, her father supports her decision. Mr. Collins withdraws his proposal, and later gets engaged to Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth is shocked when Mr. Bingley and his group suddenly quit Netherfield, and suspects his sisters and Mr. Darcy are trying to get him away from Jane. Elizabeth continues to hang out with Mr. Wickham, enjoying his company.
Visit to Hunsford Edit
Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Hunsford in Kent, at Charlotte's request, with Sir Lucas and Maria Lucas. While there, she meets Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins' patroness and Mr. Darcy's aunt. Mr. Darcy also comes to his aunt's home of Rosings Park, along with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth notices that he seems to make an effort to spend time with her, and talk to her, something that both confuses and annoys her. While out on a walk, Elizabeth comes across Colonel Fitzwilliam, who shares that Mr. Darcy talked Mr. Bingley out of marrying a woman, and Elizabeth realizes it was Jane. Upset by the news, she stays at Hunsford when Charlotte and Mr. Collins head to dinner at Rosings. Mr. Darcy comes by Hunsford, looking for her, and eventually admits that he's in love with her and wishes to marry her, despite their differences in wealth and status. Elizabeth, both insulted and shocked, rejects his proposal. When Mr. Darcy asks why, she brings up his actions against both Jane and Wickham. Finally, on his complaint of her apparent bitterness, she replies that the arrogant way by which he proposed prevented her from feeling concerns for him she "might have felt... had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner." Mr. Darcy leaves, and Elizabeth is reeling from the encounter.
The next day, Elizabeth is out on a walk when she encounters Mr. Darcy, who hands her a letter before leaving. In the letter, Mr. Darcy says that he believed Jane to be indifferent, and thought Bingley's affection was more than Jane's. He also said that the Bennets lack any social decorum, except Elizabeth and Jane. Regarding Wickham, he reveals that he did give Wickham the living his father willed him, but Wickham refused it, and was instead given money, which he squandered. Wickham then tried to elope with Darcy's sister, Georgiana, to gain her fortune when she was only fifteen. Elizabeth doesn't initially believe the letter, but when she recounts Wickham's words and his behavior towards Mr. Darcy, as well as her own family's unscrupulous behavior, she starts to change her opinion. Elizabeth realizes Mr. Darcy was telling the truth, and she missed the signs of Wickham's true character because she was blinded by prejudice and her wounded pride.
Visiting Pemberley Edit
Lizzy returns to Longbourn soon after, and makes an effort to distance herself from Wickham. He soon leaves Meryton with the militia, and heads to Brighton. She is indifferent and distant towards him, and is glad that she will probably never see him again. Elizabeth is distressed when her youngest sister, Lydia, is invited to accompany the militia to Brighton, and tries to get her father to intervene. Mr. Bennet doesn't listen, and Lydia heads to Brighton.
Soon after, her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, take Elizabeth on a summer trip around Derbyshire. They hope to visit Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's estate, but Elizabeth is reluctant to go, not willing to face Mr. Darcy. She agrees to go after finding out that he is not at Pemberley. She unexpectedly meets Mr. Darcy when he returns home, unannounced. Her surprise mounts again when he shows a greater degree of hospitality and kindness to both her and her relations. He also asks to introduce her to his sister, which Elizabeth agrees to. She meets Georgiana for the first time, and immediately likes her.
Return to Longbourn Edit
When Jane writes to Elizabeth, informing her that Lydia has eloped with Wickham, Elizabeth goes to inform Mr. Gardiner, but encounters Mr. Darcy, and confides in him about Lydia. He consoles her before leaving, and Elizabeth believes she will never see him again. Lizzy returns to Longbourn with the Gardiners, and tries to manage handling the household with Jane while their mother is hysterical and their father searches for Lydia. Mr. Gardiner soon leaves for London, and sends Mr. Bennet back to Longbourn. Lizzy laments that knowing Wickham's true nature, Lydia and their family are ruined forever.
Mr. Bennet soon receives a letter from Mr. Gardiner, stating that Lydia and Wickham are not married, but will be soon. Elizabeth is shocked when Mr. Bennet is only asked to ensure Lydia will be given the same settlement that was originally promised for all the daughters. Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet realize that Wickham was probably paid off to marry Lydia. Though glad that Lydia and the Bennets are no longer ruined, Elizabeth despairs over the marriage circumstances, believing that Mr. Darcy is now lost to her.
After Lydia and Mr. Wickham marry, they come back to Longbourn, where Elizabeth remains civil, but distant from both. When Lydia brags about her marriage to Elizabeth, she lets it slip that Mr. Darcy was at her wedding, shocking Elizabeth. She writes to Mrs. Gardiner, and finds out that Mr. Darcy was the one who found the couple and paid Wickham to marry Lydia. Elizabeth effectively ends any friendship with Mr. Wickham by implying that she knows the truth about his past, and he departs with Lydia to the north.
Mr. Darcy's Return Edit
When Mr. Bingley returns to town and visits Longbourn, Elizabeth is surprised to see Mr. Darcy with him. While almost everyone watches Jane and Mr. Bingley, Lizzy is watching Mr. Darcy to assess his reaction. She's unable to make it out, and loses hope for him. After Mr. Darcy departs for London, Mr. Bingley and Jane finally get engaged. Elizabeth is thrilled that her sister's happiness is now secured, while lamenting her own lost love. Elizabeth unexpectedly gets a visit from Lady Catherine, who heard that she would soon be engaged to Mr. Darcy. She refuses to sanction the match, as she wants Mr. Darcy to marry her own daughter, Anne. Elizabeth holds her ground, and refuses to let Lady Catherine bully her into giving up Mr. Darcy.
Engagement and Marriage Edit
Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley return to Longbourn, and Elizabeth is finally alone with Mr. Darcy when they join Jane and Mr. Bingley for a walk. She expresses her gratitude to him for helping Lydia and saving her family from ruin. Mr. Darcy says he only did it to save her, and tells her that his affections have never changed towards her. Elizabeth, elated, confesses to Mr. Darcy that her feelings for him have changed, and she also is in love with him. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal, and the two get engaged. Initially met with disbelief, their engagement delights Lizzy's family. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy get married, and settle in Pemberley, with Elizabeth recognizing she finally gained the happiness she always wanted by marrying for love.
Personality and traitsEdit
Elizabeth 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 that does not offend, but rather endears. Early in the novel, she is depicted as being personally proud of her mental quickness and her accuracy in judging the social behavior and intentions of others. She is considered a local beauty and charming, with "fine eyes." In her case, it is truly shown that inner beauty graces the outer.
Elizabeth's evolving relationship with Mr. Darcy is the basis of the novel. Elizabeth is initially hurt when Mr. Darcy slights her, and believes him to be too proud and arrogant when they first meet. Her dislike for him grows over time, and she believes that he views her the same way. She often argues with him, not afraid to challenge his superior position. When he declares his love for her, Elizabeth is shocked, having never believed it possible. When she rejects him and he subsequently defends himself, she realizes how she misjudged him because of her own pre-formed conceptions of his character.
The self-realization of her actions changes her behavior. Facing Mr. Darcy again, she is embarrassed and nervous around him, upset by her misjudgment of his character. When he starts showing a kinder side of his character, Elizabeth is more eager to impress, and is not able to speak as freely. Elizabeth finally realizes her love when she is faced with the idea of never seeing him again. Her love is powerful enough to trust him when she confides to Mr. Darcy about Lydia's elopement. She resigns herself to having lost the man she loves, because of her connection to Lydia.
When she finds out he helped ensure Lydia and Wickham get married, she is encouraged that his affections for her still exist. When Mr. Darcy confirms this, Elizabeth accepts his proposal. She sees that her passionate hate for Darcy has changed into a more deeply passionate love, and Elizabeth's maturity makes her grateful that the love is not superficial. Elizabeth and Darcy were both humbled by the other, and together, matured over time to eventually fall in love and get married.
Elizabeth is Mr. Bennet's favorite child, and is described by him by having "something more of quickness than her sisters." They both share a playful disposition of being able to laugh at others, and acknowledging that others will laugh at them. Despite her father's fondness for her, Elizabeth knows her father's flaws in his character. Her wish to marry for love is somewhat spurred by her father's own weak-will, unable to exert discipline in his household. Elizabeth hopes to find a partner that can be her equal, unlike her parents. Elizabeth realizes that her father's insightfulness will not let him believe her engagement to Mr. Darcy, as he knows that she initially perceived him to be disagreeable. She tells her father that she is relying on her impression of Darcy over time rather than their first encounter in making her decision. She is thus able to secure her father's approval, as Mr. Bennet recognizes his own daughter's intelligence in changing her opinion.
Elizabeth is described as being the child that her mother is "least fond" of, probably because she is the least likely to yield to her mother's reasoning. Mrs. Bennet's attitude towards marriage is only to secure her daughters financially and socially, as evidenced by her wishing Lizzy to marry Mr. Collins. Her superficial view of the world contrasts with Elizabeth's own wish to look deeper than the surface. When she refuses Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet refuses to talk to her, but Elizabeth does not care, as she prefers to spend as little time with her mother as possible. Elizabeth is mortified by her mother's behavior, seeing her as a source of embarrassment to the whole family. After undergoing a self-realization of her own attitude, Elizabeth is uncommonly nervous of her mother's reaction of her engagement to Mr. Darcy, unsure of what she will think. Fortunately for Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet's superficial attitude prevails, and she is happier over her daughter marrying a wealthy husband.
Elizabeth is the second of five sisters. Her oldest sister, Jane, is her closest companion. The two share similar traits, though Elizabeth's wit often makes her see people for what is behind their socially acceptable veneer, as opposed to Jane. While Elizabeth does not share this opinion, she does not try to change Jane's mind on being optimistic of the world. She confides to Jane more than anyone, and Jane, likewise, does the same. The two are often the only sound minds of reason in the household. Between their father's indifference and mother's neurosis, they have to take it upon themselves to ensure that there is order in their family. Elizabeth is fiercely loyal to Jane more than her other sisters or even her parents, as she was angry at Mr. Darcy for ruining Jane's happiness more than insulting her family. When Elizabeth's personality shifts, so do her interactions with Jane, as she often withholds information and admits that she is unsure of her own perceptions. She only confides to Jane when she finally is able to understand and accept her own feelings, after she gets engaged to Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth's younger sister, Mary, is often a source of embarrassment for her. Though Elizabeth acknowledges that she's trying hard to please herself because she is often overshadowed by her sisters and her parents, Mary's behavior can often be a source of mortification and embarrassment to Elizabeth. Like most of her family, though, she is more likely to ignore Mary.
Kitty, the fourth sister, is also a family member who Elizabeth does not wish to be associated with. Elizabeth knows that Kitty's behavior is modeling after Lydia, who Kitty constantly is following around. Elizabeth and Jane both tried to convince Kitty not to follow Lydia's example when they were younger, but after Kitty repeatedly protested, she gave up trying to help her sister. Fortunately, after Lydia's elopement, and Jane and Elizabeth marrying, Kitty depended on her eldest sisters' influence instead, and changed for the better.
Elizabeth's youngest sister, Lydia, is the wildest and most reckless sister of all the five. She is also as headstrong as Elizabeth, and is likely to fight back if Elizabeth ever makes a suggestion to Lydia. When Elizabeth becomes aware of how Lydia's behavior has ruined the social standing of both her and Jane in the eyes of outsiders, she tries to get her father to understand that Lydia, unguarded, will most likely cause embarrassment to her entire family. Mr. Bennet doesn't listen, and Elizabeth is later proven right when Lydia elopes with Wickham. After her marriage to Mr. Darcy, though Elizabeth refuses to provide Lydia and Wickham money, she is insightful enough to know of her sister's recklessness, and pays off debts that Lydia leaves behind.
Elizabeth was immediately drawn to Mr. Wickham, finding him charming and she was allured to his people-pleasing manners. His charisma to many people around him often draws people in, including Elizabeth, and she believes him when he claims to have been wronged by Mr. Darcy. Though Elizabeth seems attached to him, she later acknowledges that her feelings were not of love, because she did not feel pain at his preferring someone else. When Elizabeth is later made aware of Wickham's past, she realizes that she missed many signs of his true character, as she was conned and deceived by Wickham's manners. The witty banter she often engaged with Mr. Darcy on initially, she instead starts to aim at Wickham. Wickham cannot argue back with her, though, and she delights in making him squirm. After his marriage to Lydia, Elizabeth is coy in admitting that she knows the truth about Wickham's character, but Wickham is able to gather enough to realize Elizabeth is not deceived by him and, like Mr. Darcy, he willfully avoids any future interactions with Elizabeth, which she is fine with.
Extended Family Edit
Mrs. Phillips is Elizabeth's maternal aunt. Elizabeth never interacts with Mr. Phillips in the novel, but her perception of Mrs. Phillips is not different from Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Phillips often shares the same views as her sister, though Elizabeth is not often arguing with her as much as her mother. Elizabeth is particularly embarrassed by Mrs. Phillips' vulgarity after her engagement to Mr. Darcy, and is thankful she and Darcy will be at Pemberley, and away from Mrs. Phillips' rudeness.
Elizabeth's maternal uncle, Edward Gardiner and his wife, Mrs. Gardiner, are another story. They are the only truly sensible adults in Elizabeth's life, and often provide the parenting advice and guidance that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet fail to give. Elizabeth is very close to both of them, sharing their sensibility and insightfulness. Though she ignores her mother's advice, Elizabeth will listen to her aunt when she gives advice. Elizabeth and Darcy credit Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner for bringing them together, and stay close to both of them after their marriage.
William Collins is a distant cousin of Mr. Bennet and the heir to Longbourn, as the estate is entailed. Elizabeth finds him obsequious, pompous, and arrogant, with an obnoxious sense of self-esteem. Mr. Collins' wish to marry Elizabeth is only to increase the good opinion of himself, not because he has any real interest in her. Elizabeth laughs at him behind his back, not believing much of his standing or connections, which he proudly boasts of. When Elizabeth flatly rejects his proposal, Mr. Collins does not believe her refusal, until Mrs. Bennet says that Elizabeth will not accept him. After Mr. Collins marries Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth sees that he tries to make Elizabeth regret giving him up, but Elizabeth does not indulge his whim, showing happiness at being welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Collins rather than longing.
Charlotte Lucas Edit
- Father: Mr. Bennet
- Mother: Mrs. Bennet
- Miss Elizabeth Bennet - Before her marriage and being younger than Jane Bennet, she held this title until her marriage.
- Mrs Darcy - Elizabeth's title after her marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy.
- My Mistress - Elizabeth's title during her marriage to Darcy, while in Pemberley, being the Mistress of Pemberley.
- Cousin Elizabeth - When Mr. William Collins calls for Elizabeth.
- Eliza/Lizzy - By close family and friends.