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

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Start Free Trial

In Pride and Prejudice, why are Jane and Lydia better marriage candidates than Lizzy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think you mean just Jane in this question: throughout the novel it is clear that Lydia is flighty and headstrong and so has little to recommend her apart from her beauty and sense of fun. I guess your question identifies the bad aspects of Elizabeth Bennet's character. She has many great qualities - her beauty, intelligence and her wit, which is particularly important in a novel that is characterised by dialogue. In addition to this she is honest, which enables her to rise above the pettiness of the society of which she is a part. Yet, for all of these admirable qualities, we quickly see, especially in her interactions with Darcy, that she has a sharp tongue and a tendency to make hasty judgements (for she is the Prejudice of the title, just as much as Darcy is the Pride). These qualities are what the action of the novel helps Elizabeth to realise about herself and we can see that she is a better person, more self-aware, at the end of the novel.

In comparison, Jane seems to be very different to her sister, and almost is used to contrast her sister's fiery nature with her sweet-mannered and mild nature. She has none of her sister's failings and therefore is a much safer bet for marriage - but one can't help wondering if marriage to Jane would be a bit boring. She seems so perfect!

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane is described as an exquisite beauty, the prettiest of the Bennet sisters.  She would be the most attractive to potential suitors.  Jane also has an easy manner about her, not too smart as to insult a candidate who would become her husband.

Jane is a lady, she is graceful and pleasant in her manner.  It is hard to dislike Jane, she is the type of woman that men can admire from a distance and when they get up close they discover that not only is she beautiful, but sweet, kind and easy to love.

Lydia is very outgoing, has a good sense of humor and is very amiable.  Lydia is not a serious individual, all she is interested in is having fun.  This quality might be appealing to young men like herself who are also looking for fun.  Lydia seems to lack a moral core which could also be attractive to men, especially men like Wickham.  Lydia is spontaneous, she elopes with Wickham, well they are not actually married, she runs away with him and has no qualms about being alone with him.  She does not realize that she is violating her family's honor by her behavior.

On the contrary, Lizzie, although pleasant looking her demeanor is dominated by her wit, intelligence and ability to hold her own in a conversation with any man.  Lizzie Bennet is a complex woman, educated and refined, but not easily wooed.  She is not as easy to love as Jane and not  silly like Lydia.  In fact, Lizzie is somewhat unapproachable.  She is serious and steady, not given to flights of fancy like Lydia.  But also not like Jane who appeals to men and is admired so quickly and easily.

Lizzie is looking for something more in a man, a husband that will regard her intelligence as an asset and not a detriment.  She does not want to hide her education, so that man who looks to marry Lizzie will have to be very secure in his own knowledge and not feel threatened by her.  Nor can her potential husband be intimidated by her sharp wit or caustic sense of humor that is tinged with irony.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial