The Portrayal Of Characters In Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice

1358 Words 6 Pages
Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, is considered one of the most important and popular English novels of all time. The two main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, have strong characteristics that develop and change over the course of the novel. At the start of the novel, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form premature judgments and present themselves to be prideful, and through the course of the novel, change their views to being humble and loving. Jane Austen’s portrayal of the changes Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy undergo showcases Austen’s view on how these traits affect the people around them.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy develop strong resentment towards each other early on in the novel. During the first ball in
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Darcy begins to realize his prejudice formed in the beginning of the novel against Elizabeth was in vain, as stated, “though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness” (14-15). The first of two examples in the novel, Mr. Darcy realizes his first impressions and thoughts on others were incorrect and damaging to his own reputation. In a later confirmation between the two, Elizabeth, after Mr. Darcy asks to dance, states, “You wanted me, I know, to say 'Yes, ' that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all—and now despise me if you dare” (32-33). Elizabeth shows her vicious side in this response to Mr. Darcy, who later states, “your [hatred] is willfully to misunderstand them [people]” (37). Mr. Darcy realizes Elizabeth forms prejudices against others very quickly, and does not bother to understand their characteristics more in depth. In chapter 16, Elizabeth again forms strong opinions of others, this time on Mr. Wickham, stating that she “honoured him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as …show more content…
Darcy and Elizabeth’s characters start to occur in Chapter 35, when Elizabeth receives Mr. Darcy’s letter revealing Mr. Wickham’s true past. Upon this revelation of events, Elizabeth states, “She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. "How despicably I have acted! she cried; I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation” (122). Elizabeth realizes she placed too much judgment on her first impressions with strangers, and as a result, has failed to see who Mr. Darcy really is. She begins to see Mr. Darcy in a new light, and in Chapter 44, reflects in thought by stating, “She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him” (152). Elizabeth’s final transformation from the beginning of the novel occurs in Chapter 50, where she believes that Mr. Darcy is “exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her” (179). Upon realizing Mr. Darcy as a man who would go to great lengths to please and help others, Elizabeth drops all wrong judgments, and chooses him for marriage. Mr. Darcy’s pride is stripped away and replaced by

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