Essay on Elizabeth's Strength of Character in Pride and Prejudice

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Elizabeth's Strength of Character in Pride and Prejudice


In her novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen used the character of Elizabeth Bennet to epitomize the harmonious balance between reason and emotion in a woman, making her a truly admirable and attractive character.



Elizabeth's strength of character is emphasized by its contrast with the weak, naive acceptance of Jane's, the instability and excess of Mrs. Bennet's and the blind, weak-willed following of Kitty's. Her strength is also shown in her rejections of the proposals of Mr. Collins and Darcy. Unlike her mother, she does not base her choice of lovers on the financial security they will give her, and has the strength to reject them. This is especially
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Elizabeth also expresses her rebellion against society by taking little trouble to become accomplished, as young ladies were expected to then. She devotes little time to becoming skilled at playing the piano, and has not learnt drawing at all.



Elizabeth's intelligence reveals her to be one of the few reasoning characters of the novel, a sensible individual in a society largely composed of fools. In this way, this attribute was less a product of the civilization of her immediate society than of the civilization of the Enlightenment that emphasized the importance of reason in life and served to educate Elizabeth. As the daughter of Mr. Bennet, her view of society is a cynical, ironic one, heightened by the presence of brainless family members and neighbors. It is her sense of irony that enables her to survive in such a society, as she enjoys the humor of the ridiculous pomposity of Mr. Collins as her father does. [I disagree with the introduction here. A sense of irony gives Mr. Bennet the ability to survive a disastrous marriage, but Elizabeth does not share such emotional detachment -- she is "engagé".] However, she does not employ as insulting a tone as her father does, but chooses to define it as "impertinence". After Darcy's proposal is accepted, Darcy tells her that one of the reasons why he fell in love with her was "the liveliness of your mind", showing that her intelligence adds to her charms as she uses it in the form of [gd.] wit rather…