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

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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Who are the main characters in Pride and Prejudice and what are their key traits?

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 Of course, “Pride and Prejudice” is a fairly lengthy novel and there are many characters whose actions impact the plot. However, the Bennet sisters are central to the novel, since there are no boys in the family and the family’s entire fortune is entailed to the oldest living male relative, Mr. Collins.

Jane Bennet is the oldest and acknowledged prettiest of the Bennet sisters. She becomes romantically attached to Mr. Bingley, a wealthy neighbor. Elizabeth Bennet is the second sister. She is not mild-mannered and passive, like her older sister Jane. Rather, she is quick-witted and confident, often annoying those who prefer more malleable personalities in women. Mary is the third sister and she is depicted as a bookish and studious girl who is less interested in cultivating her feminine charms than her younger sisters. Both younger sisters, Catherine (Kitty) and Lydia, are silly and petty in their pursuits. Both become giddy at the sight of men in uniform and neither chooses to involve herself in consideration of life’s weightier matters. There are several men of note in the novel.

Mr. Collins, the man who is to inherit the Bennet fortune, is presumptuous and conceited. Although a clergyman, he is impressed by wealth and power and shows an unnatural willingness to accept instructions from his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Mr. Bingley is a wealthy young man with a generous spirit. He is immediately attracted to Jane Bennet. His close friend, Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is pompous and condescending. He resists his initial attraction to Elizabeth Bennet, choosing to insult her rather than compliment her. Mr. Wickham is an unprincipled and deceitful man who takes advantage of the women in his life. His actions are always self-serving. Knowing that Mr. Darcy is aloof, he takes advantage of an opportunity to slander his reputation.

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