ELIZABETH BENNET

ELIZABETH BENNET

Her Physical Charm : Elizabeth Bennet was the creator. Of all her heroines, Jane Austen liked Elizabeth Bennet most. During the last one century and a half, countless readers and critics have fallen in love with her. Elizabeth is certainly not as beautiful as Jane, still she is graceful and charming. There is something indefinable about her charm which cannot be easily analysed. Her beauty does not strike at first sight but takes time to make impression. Darcy does not find her beautiful when he first meets her : “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” But later Darcy says that she is “one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.” Elizabeth is a complex character. has a good

Sharp Understanding of Human Nature : Elizabeth understanding of people. She claims that she fully understands Bingley and she is right. She looks through the mask of friendship of the Bingley sisters and discovers their conceit. She knows Mr. Collins to be an affected fool from the first letter he writes to them. She alerts her father of the impending dangers of Lydia’s flirtations. She is aware of the vulgarity of her mother, the simplicity of Jane, the pedantary of Mary and the frivolity of Kitty and Lydia. It does not take her long to feel the cynical irresponsibility of her father. Elizabeth, however, fails to understand some intricate people like Charlotte Lucas, George Wickham and Darcy. Charlotte is an intimate friend. Her feeling of affection blinds Elizabeth to her demerits. In case of Darcy, his slighting remark, in the beginning of the novel, about her being just ‘tolerable’ hurts her pride. This makes her prejudiced against him. As a result of this prejudice, she misunderstands every word and every action of his. Wickham appears graceful and charming. Being singled out by such a charming officer gratifies her and she succumbs to his charms. .

Desirous to Learn : Elizabeth, however, is willing to learn process of her self-awakening begins on receipt of Darcy’s letter. She begins to read it with a strong prejudice against him. But gradually she realises the truth of his statements. She now feels mortified at her spiritual blindness. She grows absolutely ashamed of herself. She realises that she had been blind and prejudiced. This dramatic moment of self-revelation gradually brings about a total awareness of reality. She comes to know that Wickham is a charming unprincipled flirt. She begins to understand Darcy is exactly the man who, in nature and talent, would most suit her. Her prejudice was wrong, but there was an element of honesty about it. And we love her for her honesty of mind.

Her Moral Courage : Elizabeth has great moral courage. She declines two marriage proposals : both undesirable but both attractive in their own way. Her father’s estate is entailed on Mr. Collins. Her connections are very low and vulgar. Her mother warns her that she will not be able to maintain her after her father’s death. Mr. Collins’s proposal at least promises the comforts and security of a home, if no love. Mr. Darcy’s proposal is still more attractive, because she realises that it would be a great honour to be the mistress of Pemberley. In these circumstances, it needed great moral and spiritual courage to reject these proposals. But Elizabeth did not want to marry where there was no love. She is indeed gifted with rare strength of character.

Elizabeth shows her strength of character in other matters also. Whenever she faces an act of absurdity, she asserts her independence of mind. She faces Lady Catherine with calm composure and unruffled dignity. When this lady tries to pressurise her to promise that she will not marry Darcy, Elizabeth refuses to be browbeaten by her. She never loses an argument. She is really a spirited and independent girl. She asserts her individuality whenever required.

Her Sense of Wit and Humour : Elizabeth is gifted with an irrepressible sense of wit and humour. Mr. Bennet is also very witty but he is often cynical. Elizabeth’s wit pleases but it never hurts. In her brilliance of wit she reminds us of Rosalind in As You Like It. There runs a strain of innocent raillery in all her conversation. Incorrigibly humorous, she does not spare anyone. She is capable of laughing as much at herself as at others. She loves Jane dearly but does not spare her from his raillery. She cannot help laughing even in most serious situations in life. When Elizabeth gives Jane the news of her engagement to Darcy, Jane asks, “But are you certain – forgive the question-are you quite certain that you can be happy with him ?” Elizabeth, with cool and delightful irony, replies, “There can be no doubt of that. It is settled between us already that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.” But she never oversteps the limits of propriety. There is no doubt that Elizabeth’s wit, besides being refined and subtle, never outruns discretion.

Her Warm-heartedness : Another quality of Elizabeth is her selflessness and warm-heartedness. The concern she shows for Jane during her stay at Netherfield, the way she walks all the way to Netherfield speaks well of her. She feels concerned at Bingley’s removal from the neighbourhood and is genuinely happy when Jane is engaged to him. Elizabeth is indeed a lovable heroine. Of all Jane Austen’s heroines, she impresses and delights us most. We can conclude with Shakespeare’s words : “Time cannot wither her nor custom stale her charm.”

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