Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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Contrast Elizabeth Bennet's temperament with Jane's serenity in Pride and Prejudice. Whom does the author prefer?

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While Jane is sweet, she is also submissive and the author clearly prefers Elizabeth, who has some semblance of a backbone. This is clear not only because Austin makes Elizabeth the main character (clearly if she preferred Jane, Jane would be the heroine) but also from Austin's treatment of the two. Elizabeth is a generally clear observer of people, whereas Jane accepts people uncritically. Jane's father remarks this when he says, "You are . . . so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income."

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Elizabeth tells Jane that she is too nice. She adds that Jane refuses to find a fault in anyone. Elizabeth speaks in a straight forward manner. She is quite bold in her speech to Darcy. She accuses him of being prideful or snobbish, adding that she would not consider marrying him if he were the last man on earth.

Also, Elizabeth is frank or blunt when Lady Catherine questions her on her schooling and personal life. She refuses to tell her age, saying you could hardly expect me to share such information.

Jane is sweet and serene. She is considerate and caring. She sees the good in people. She is also modest and mild-mannered. In reference to her relationship with Mr. Bingley, Jane's lack of sharing her feelings is interpreted as indifferent by Darcy and even Mr. Bingley. For this reason, Mr. Bingley does not pursue a relationship with Jane in the beginning. Jane was not indifferent, she is just quiet and reserved.

Elizabeth is outspoken. The two sisters are opposites in temperament. Jane is trusting. Elizabeth is skeptical. Jane is accepting and Elizabeth is inquisitive. She boldly asks Wickham his disagreement with Darcy. Then, just as boldly, she asks Darcy the same question.

Elizabeth states her mind, even to her mother. Jane would never show disrespect.

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