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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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CHARACTERS ANALYSIS

Mr. Bennet

Although Mr. Bennet is basically a sensible man, he behaves strangely because of his disillusionment with his wife. Living with Mrs. Bennet has made him somewhat bitter and cynical. Trapped in a bad marriage, he makes life endurable for himself by assuming a pose of an ironic passive spectator of life, who has long ago abdicated his roles as a husband and a father. Once in awhile, he comes out of his ivory tower to amuse himself by pestering his foolish wife or making callous remarks about his daughters. He reality, he is quite fond of his children, particularly Elizabeth, who he finds sensible and witty.

Throughout the novel, Mr. Bennet proves he is an insensitive father. His wit, though enlivening, is disturbing because of its cynicism; unfortunately, it is often turned on his daughters. When Jane is jilted in love, he speaks of it in a very light manner, saying it is an unavoidable occurrence, which distresses Jane even more. He is not concerned about Lydia’s inappropriate behavior and allows her to go off to Brighton, in spite of Elizabeth’s warnings to him; his negligence on this account leads to Lydia’s elopement. This incident shocks him out of his complacency, and for once he seems genuinely worried about one of his children. He even goes to London to search for his daughter; unfortunately, he soon allows Mr. Gardiner to replace him. When Elizabeth announces her engagement to Darcy, Mr. Bennet seems genuinely concerned, for he still believes Darcy to be arrogant and rude; he does not want his daughter to enter into a miserable marriage like his own. When he learns of Darcy’s goodness and Elizabeth’s true love for him, Mr. Bennet blesses the union. At the end of the novel, however, he is not a greatly changed man; he is still in his ivory tower, trying to escape the inanity of his wife.

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet is described by the author as "a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper." In her youth, her beauty won her a husband, but she could not sustain Mr. Bennet’s interest for long because of her crude behavior. As the novel opens, she has one purpose in life - to find acceptable husbands for her oldest three daughters.


Mrs. Bennet is loud and gauche as is illustrated in her behavior at Netherfield. Whenever she opens her mouth, she seems to make a fool of herself. Her vulgar social behavior becomes a major deterrent for Bingley and Darcy in the pursuit of her daughters. In addition to her crass behavior, Mrs. Bennet is not very intelligent or sensible. She is given to hasty judgments and fluctuating opinions. Throughout the book, her opinions of people swing between abhorrence and admiration, as seen in her changing feelings for Mr. Collins, Wickham, Bingley, and Darcy. Of course, much of how she judges them is based on whether or not she believes they will become her sons-in-law.

Like her husband, Mrs. Bennet fails miserably in her role as a parent. She fails to understand the sensibilities of Jane and Elizabeth, and often embarrasses the two girls with her indiscreet behavior and hurtful remarks. She ridicules Jane for her love for Bingley and wants Elizabeth to marry the horrid Mr. Collins. Her permissiveness with Lydia leads to her living with Wickham outside of marriage. Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the elopement is to go into hysterics and hide herself in her room. She is incapable of holding the family together in a moment of crisis; in fact, she just makes matters worse.

In the end, Mrs. Bennet gets exactly what she has desired; her three eldest daughters are married. She, however, remains the same gawking, vulgar and foolish woman.

Jane Bennet

Jane is the beautiful, charming, and subdued sister of Elizabeth. In fact, she is so gentle and kind that she genuinely and naively believes that everyone else in the world is the same. Elizabeth even tells her that "you never see a fault in anybody. All the world is good and agreeable in your eyes. I have never heard you speak ill of any human being." Her attraction for Bingley is instant, for she sees him as a simple, unassuming man and a perfect mate. She is greatly disappointed when Bingley seems to lose interest in her, but she patiently waits for him. At the end of the novel, the good Jane is rewarded for her patient endurance when Bingley proposes to her.

Bingley

A promising young man endowed with wealth and social ease, Bingley is the owner of Netherfield. Unlike Darcy, he is very popular with everyone because he is gentle, kind, and amiable, and his manners are socially pleasing. His love for Jane is instant and pure; unfortunately, he is at first discouraged from pursuing a relationship with her.

At times, Bingley seems a bit weak, lacking self-confidence. He lets himself be manipulated by his friends and his sisters. Darcy acts like an adviser, philosopher, and guide to him, leading him away from his attraction to Jane. Unfortunately, Bingley always places a great premium on Darcy’s sense of judgement and follows his advice, almost without questions. On the whole, Bingley is a very simple, uncomplicated character. Elizabeth Bennet correctly depicts him as a man who is ‘very easy to understand’.

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