Is Elizabeth Bennet truly a strong female character in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen? Agree or disagree and write a five-paragraph persuasive essay on the subject. 

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, is one of the most recognizable female characters in literature. Of course you will have to make your own determination about whether or not Elizabeth is a "strong female character," but a quick review of what she does and does not do throughout the story may help you make an informed choice.

  • She does think her sisters (except for Jane) are ridiculously shallow and vain, and she is mortified by their sometimes outrageous behavior.
  • She is quick, perhaps too quick, to make judgments about others.
  • She is not afraid to have social interactions with people who have money and are in a social class above her own.
  • She can be rude and unbending (as Mr. Darcy can attest),
  • She loves Jane and her friend Charlotte enough to do what she must to help them, even if she would rather not.
  • She has a quick wit but often uses it to be sarcastic and rather biting.  
  • She has a realistic view of her station and abilities in life, and she never tries to act like someone she is not.
  • She is quite aware of her own less-than-desirable qualities, but only after something drastic has happened to make her see them.
  • She is willing to remain unmarried rather than marrying someone she does not love.
  • She is genuinely thankful when people do things for her.
  • She is strong-willed (stubborn) and set in her ways. She says:

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” 

  • She cares as much about social standing and appearances, in her own way, as the people she condemns for doing the same thing (Elizabeth is mortified at the shame Lydia will bring to the family by scandalously eloping). 

As you consider events from the novel, you will no doubt think of other things which demonstrate Elizabeth's positive and negative traits. Perhaps you will have to define "strong" in your own thinking before you can settle on one side or the other.

Once you determine your point of view--either she is or is not a strong character--you can easily write your essay. A five-paragraph essay generally requires an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Choose three reasons, examples, traits, characteristics, or whatever else seems apt and write a paragraph about each, including examples to make your point. Because it is a persuasive essay, be sure to use persuasive language to make your points and defend your position. (A way to check this is to ask yourself is anyone can argue or disagree with you; if so, you are being persuasive.)

Write a good thesis statement which summarizes your position and your three points; then you are ready to write. 

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Pride and Prejudice

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