In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, what is Jane Bennet's opinion of Darcy?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet is characterized as a very thoughtful, kind, caring person who is unwilling to dislike anyone. Her personality and the fact that she dearly admires Mr. Darcy's intimate friend, Mr. Bingley, make it very difficult for Jane to believe Mr. Wickham's news that Mr. Darcy is a horrible person.

We learn a great deal about Jane's general character in Jane and Elizabeth's private conversation in Chapter 4, after the Meryton assembly. In Chapter 4, we learn that Jane hates to be "hasty in censuring any one," and, in Elizabeth's eyes, Jane is far too likely to ignore the faults of others. Since Jane is generally willing to like all people, Jane is very quick to defend Darcy when others judge him negatively. For example, in Chapter 5, while the Lucases are having tea with the Bennets after the Meryton assembly, when Darcy is spoken ill of for refusing to talk to anyone at the assembly, Jane is very quick to state an explanation. According to Jane, Miss Bingley informed Jane that Darcy is very reserved and "never speaks much unless among his intimate acquaintance"; however, also according to Miss Bingley, when Darcy is around people he is comfortable with, he is "remarkably agreeable" (Ch. 5).

Since Jane hates thinking ill of others, she can't bring herself to think ill of Darcy even when Elizabeth informs Jane of Wickham's story of Darcy's mistreatment of him. She instead draws the conclusion that both Wickham and Darcy must have misunderstood each other. Later, at the Netherfield ball, Jane is very willing to side with Mr. Bingley's impression of Mr. Wickham. Though Mr. Bingley doesn't really know Wickham or what transpired between Darcy and Wickham, Bingley believes Wickham to be of poor reputation and to have deserved any ill treatment he received from Darcy. Bingley is also very unwilling to think poorly of his good friend Darcy. For all of these reasons, Jane is convinced that Elizabeth must be mistaken in her judgements of both Wickham and Darcy, which, considering Jane's naiveté, ironically later proves to be correct.

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Pride and Prejudice

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