- "I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."
- —Lizzy about Mr. Darcy's pride.[src]
Elizabeth Darcy (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, Kitty, Lydia and Mary. The family lives in Hertfordshire at the estate, Longbourn, near the village of Meryton. Elizabeth is close with her sister Jane and Charlotte Lucas, a 'plain' woman who lives in the neighbourhood.
Pride and Prejudice is told primarily from her perspective and the reader follows her through the novel beginning with the occupation the nearby of Netherfield Park by Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst and Mr. Hurst. Over the course of the novel Elizabeth is shown to possess intelligence, wit and alacrity, that make her the favourite child of her father. We also see her progression in her opinion of Mr. Darcy, who, when he is first introduced, is believed to be an overall unpleasant and prideful man, even if he does have an income of ten thousand pounds per year. In chapter 6 of the novel, Elizabeth Bennet is described as pretty with "dark eyes". In chapter 15, it is said that she is considered to be the second-prettiest of the five Bennet sisters (second to Jane Bennet). In chapter 29, Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine de Bourgh that she is 20 years old.
Elizabeth, or "Lizzy", is the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. She has an elder sister, Jane, who is considered the most beautiful and kindest of the Bennet girls, and three younger sisters: plain Mary, weak-willed Kitty, and frivolous Lydia. Although he is a gentleman, because he has no sons Mr. Bennet's estate is entailed to a distant cousin, Mr. Collins, and upon Mr. Bennet's death his daughters will be left penniless and perhaps homeless. This forms Mrs. Bennet's goal for her daughters to marry wealthy men.
Elizabeth is witty, funny, and has a strong character. She witnesses how her father continually makes fun of his wife and three youngest daughters and sees it as a flaw in the family. This happens because her father married her mother simply because of her youth and beauty and their love is short-lived. Seeing this example, Elizabeth is determined to marry for love and not just because of money.
Growing up, Elizabeth is well-read, sharp-minded, and intelligent. Her parents did not hire a governess nor send their daughters to a school for their education, which resulted in them lacking skills believed to be needed in young women, such as drawing and playing music. Due to her extensive reading and experience in her family (which consists of people with variety of characters), Elizabeth believes herself to be a good judge of character. However, this confidence is also the result from her not being exposed to a broader range of society, which will have made her more open-minded and less judgmental.
Mrs. Bennet is determined to have her daughters married well and this opportunity comes when Mr. Bingley, whose income is four to five thousand pounds a year, rents the Netherfield Park in Meryton to spend the summer with his sisters, his brother-in-law, and his good friend. At the ball in a local assembly, the Netherfield party introduce themselves for the first time to the Meryton people. Mr. Bingley and Jane are soon attracted to each other, but Bingley's friend, Mr. Darcy (who is more rich than Bingley with ten thousand pounds a year), clashes with Elizabeth when he refuses to dance with her. Elizabeth quickly forms his character to be proud, selfish, vain, and rude.
Elizabeth dislikes Darcy even more when she becomes acquainted with Mr. Wickham, a military officer who claims Darcy has taken away his share of inheritance. During this time, Mr. Collins comes to stay at Longbourn, who is discovered to be a pompous, silly clergyman who talks about his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, all the time. He intends to marry one of the Bennet sisters and sets his heart on Elizabeth, after Mrs. Bennet tells him that Jane may be engaged very soon. At a ball in Netherfield, Elizabeth dances with Darcy and her family shows lack of propriety except Elizabeth and Jane. Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth the next day, which she refuses. To Elizabeth's surprise, days later her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, becomes engaged with Mr. Collins.
- Father: Mr. Bennet
- Mother: Mrs. Bennet