Characterization of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

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Characterization of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is an authentic character, allowing readers to identify, sympathize, and grow with her. Unfortunately, Austen does not create a match for Elizabeth who is her equal in terms of characterization. Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth's sometime adversary, beloved, and, finally, husband, is not so carefully crafted as she, for his character is somewhat undefined, made up of only mystery, inconsistency, and conventionality.

Elizabeth is, initially, quick to make judgments and just as quick to hold fast to those preconceptions. In effect, Elizabeth represents both aspects of the novel's
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"The shadowy Darcy" is at once a compelling presence in the novel (Auerbach 346), but a mysterious one as well. Reaching nearly mythic proportions, his capabilities are far reaching, but ambiguous; Elizabeth wonders at "how much pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow!--How much of good or evil must be done by him!" (Austen 159).

Then there is the mystery of his pride. Is he? or isn't he? readers question. His pride is an issue from the start: "for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased . . . He was the proudest most disagreeable man in the world" (8). Yet as the novel comes to its conclusion, Mrs. Reynolds states that "though some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it" (164), Mrs. Gardiner writes, "He has been accused of may faults at different times; but [obstinacy] is the true one" (207), and Elizabeth finally pronounces him as having "no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable" (242). Yet Mr. Darcy himself acknowledges his pride and says, "'By [Elizabeth], I was properly humbled'" (237). Therefore, either Mr. Darcy never really was the proud man everyone judged him to be, or he was proud and then humbled. It is difficult to say which is the truth.

Other inconsistencies abound in the character of Mr. Darcy. At least one declaration of his strikes an odd note. Quite out of character, he remarks, "'I have been used to consider
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