Pride and Prejudice

What are the characteristics of Elizabeth?

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"Elizabeth Bennet," writes Elizabeth Jenkins in her critical biography Jane Austen: A Biography, "has perhaps received more admiration than any other heroine in English literature." Elizabeth is the soul of Pride and Prejudice, who reveals in her own person the very title qualities that she spots so easily in her sisters and their suitors Elizabeth has her father, Mr. Bennet's, quick wit and ironic sense of humor Unlike her older sister Jane, she resists accepting all people uncritically She is quick to recognize most people's principal characteristics—for instance, she recognizes the stupidities of many members of her family and quickly characterizes Lady Catherine de Bourgh as a control addict and her sister's suitor Charles Bingley as a simple and good-hearted young man. But she is also, concludes Jenkins, "completely human. Glorious as she is, and beloved of her creator, she is kept thoroughly in her place. She was captivated by [George] Wickham, in which she showed herself no whit superior to the rest of female Meryton." When Elizabeth begins to accept her own impressions uncritically, she makes her worst mistakes

Because Elizabeth is so keen an observer of other people, she recognizes her mother's silliness and vows not to be caught in the same trap as her father. This refusal, however, is itself a trap By trusting entirely to her own observations (pride) and her own initial assessments of people (prejudice), Elizabeth threatens her future happiness with Fitzwilliam Darcy. "Above all," concludes Jenkins, "there is her prejudice against Darcy, and though their first encounter was markedly unfortunate, she built on it every dislike it could be made to bear; her eager condemnation of !urn and her no less eager remorse when she found that she had been mistaken, are equally lovable."

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