Choose a character Pride and Prejudice. Discuss how the character grows and changes and what these changes suggest about theme of the work. Use details from the novel to support your ideas.

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In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet exhibits character development over the course of the novel. She is a level-headed young woman when the book opens. She is outspoken, lively and bright. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the book, she mistakenly trusts Mr. Wickham because he is attractive and seems sincere. She is misled by his outward appearance. He approaches Elizabeth and is indiscreet in the remarks he makes about Darcy, which are very negative. Elizabeth also does not question Wickham’s motivation as she should.

Elizabeth is also indiscreet in her response to Wickham when she says that “Everybody is disgusted with his [Darcy’s] pride. You will not find him more favourably spoken of by anyone.” Wickham’s remarks only add to her growing dislike of Mr. Darcy. Because Darcy wounded her pride by saying she was "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me," Elizabeth is too quick to judge. In effect, she allows her prejudice against Darcy to color her views, accepting what Wickham says and allowing it to affect her behavior to Darcy himself. By writing this weakness in Elizabeth, Austen underscores how people need to be discerning and not judge something from its outward appearances.

By the end of the novel, Lizzy recognizes that she was too quick to accept Wickham and judge Mr. Darcy. Austen writes, “If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth’s change of sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty." Elizabeth acknowledges to Darcy that her behavior to him was “always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not ... You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less." Elizabeth is mature enough to admit how wrong she was. She has grown over the course of the novel.

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