Explain and analyse the following quote from Pride and Prejudice."He is also handsome," replied Elizabeth, "which a young man ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby...

Explain and analyse the following quote from Pride and Prejudice.

"He is also handsome," replied Elizabeth, "which a young man ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This quote is said by Lizzie to her sister, Jane, at the beginning of Chapter 4, after Jane begins to talk to Lizzie about how much she admires Mr. Bingley after their first meeting. We see hear Lizzie displaying her typical playful humour and flippancy in the way she responds to the praise that the enthusiastic Jane pours upon Mr. Bingley. Note what Jane says about him:

"He is just what a young man ought to be," said she, "sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!--so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!"

Obviously, Lizzie feels that Jane is getting rather carried away with her description of Mr. Bingley with the high praise she heaps upon him, and her response is designed to poke gentle fun at her sister and her evident admiration for Mr. Bingley. By saying that "his character is therefore complete" because he is handsome, she makes fun of the way in which men were viewed by women during their time and also exaggerates her response by presenting Mr. Bingley as a "complete" character. In reality, they have only met him once, and in a novel that is about the dangers of first impressions, this should make us question whether there is any deficiency in Mr. Bingley's supposedly perfect character.

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