Provide an outline of the characters Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beginning with Elizabeth Bennett, she is a high-spirited and intelligent young lady. She is a keen social observer who mocks contemporary ideas of marriage and is very skeptical of the marriage market in general. In Chapter 21, for example, she is the first to realize that Miss Bingley does not want Jane to marry her brother, despite the obvious love between the pair:

Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. No one who has ever seen you together can doubt his affection. Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this: We are not rich enough or grand enough for them.

Elizabeth is also a very loving sister who is dedicated to preserving the well-being of her family. She walks to Netherfield, for example, after receiving the news that her sister, Jane, has developed a cold and remains with her until she is well. Later, when her sister, Lydia, elopes with Mr Wickham, Elizabeth is extremely worried for her welfare, not just the impact of this scandal on her family's reputation.  

But Elizabeth does have one major flaw: she represents "prejudice" in the novel because she allows her feelings towards Darcy to be manipulated by the false testimony of Mr Wickham. It is not until she learns the truth directly from Darcy in Chapter 35 that she changes her opinion. But this revelation marks a turning point in the novel: once her view is corrected, she begins to perceive Darcy in a different light and eventually agrees to marry him.

Conversely, Fitzwilliam Darcy represents the "pride" in Pride and Prejudice. This attitude derives, in part, from his wealthy and aristocratic background which imbues him with a sense of social superiority. In his dealings with women, Darcy often comes across as cold and blunt. We see this in Chapter 11, when Miss Bingley invites Elizabeth to join her for a walk around the room. Darcy immediately senses a ruse and is dismissive in his attitude:

You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.

Similarly, in his first marriage proposal to Elizabeth, he emphasizes her "inferior" social status instead of the reasons why he loves her. This prompts a strong reaction from Elizabeth but demonstrates both his sense of superiority and his often-blunt attitude towards others.

But Darcy will admit fault when he knows he is wrong. In Chapter 50, for example, he says to Elizabeth: "I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit." His ability to open up with Elizabeth demonstrates a warmer side to his character and is a driving force in encouraging her to fall in love with him. In other words, Elizabeth is the only person who can help him to overcome his pride, while Darcy is the only person who dissipate Elizabeth's prejudice.

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Pride and Prejudice

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