Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Character of Elizabeth

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The Character of Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice

In her novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen portrays Elizabeth Bennet as "strong and intelligent, yet bewitching in a completely feminine way". Elizabeth's possession of these attributes: strength of character and moral integrity, great intelligence, and an attractive personality, make her an admirable person. Yet Elizabeth has faults, which makes her more human. Austen's portrayal of Elizabeth is realistic and masterful, often juxtaposing her with characters lacking her attributes to heighten our appreciation of her.

The claim that Elizabeth is strong is indisputable. The strength of her personal integrity is highly evident in her refusal of Darcy's first marriage
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She berated herself for her misjudgements and for being blinded by appearance to Wickham's untrustworthiness, which should have been evident in the discrepancy between his words and actions. She was "absolutely ashamed" of herself, and attained self-knowledge -- "Till this moment I never truly knew myself." She faced up to the unpalatable truth about herself, and determined to change. Her courage and strength are commendable. This is in contrast to, most strikingly, Mr. Collins, who completely lacks the capacity for reflection and self-awareness. The reader laughs at his self-importance and ridiculously obsequious, sycophantic manner.

Elizabeth also possesses moral strength. She constantly tries to restrain Lydia's frivolity and inability to do what is fitting, or just plain good manners, in what looks to be a losing battle. When Lydia interrupts Collins' reading aloud of a sermon, Elizabeth bids her to hold her tongue. She strongly feels the impropriety and shame of Lydia's constant and avid seeking out of male attention and company. When Lydia is invited by Mrs. Forster to join the regiment in Brighton, Elizabeth endeavours to make her father stop Lydia. Unlike her father, who never restrains Lydia but rather enjoys the sight of her making a fool of herself,
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