Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Pride and Prejudice Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Lydia Bennet

Extended Character Analysis

Lydia Bennet, the youngest daughter of the Bennet family, is flighty and audacious. Lydia shows a general disregard for those around her and is often wasteful and silly. For most of the novel, Lydia runs about Meryton with Catherine (Kitty) Bennet, her closest sister, flirting with the militia men and creating a source of public shame for the Bennet family. Lydia’s character is reflective of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s many deficiencies in marriage and in parenting. However, she also acts as a catalyst for change within the novel. Without many of Lydia’s actions, other characters would not have met as frequently or been brought together. It is Lydia’s careless choices that force those around her to react, and those reactions result in valuable, story-changing moments.

Lydia’s character is very similar to Mrs. Bennet’s, and because of this, Mrs. Bennet favors her; she lets Lydia be “out” with her sisters and spoils her. Lydia arranges the first meeting between Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth Bennet; while the sisters are out walking through Meryton, Lydia sees a militia man she knows walking with a handsome stranger, who turns out to be Mr. Wickham. Lydia’s outgoing attitude draws Mr. Wickham toward her and her sisters, and Elizabeth is drawn in by his excellent manners, becoming further prejudiced against Mr. Darcy after Wickham lies about Darcy’s past actions. It is also Lydia’s rude and excited nature that pushes Mr. Bingley to host a ball at Netherfield, which accounts for a second and more interactive meeting between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. This particular ball is also a scene in which the Bennet family behaves embarrassingly. The actions of the Bennet family during this ball highlight to Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley’s sisters the defects of the match...

(The entire section is 600 words.)