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Elizabeth Bennet as a Heroine in Pride and Prejudice Essay


During the nineteenth century, women were expected to behave in a particular manner; well-mannered, calm, self-controlled and obedient. At this time, women were not to travel independently, they could only do so if they were accompanied by a man, but during the novel, we see that Elizabeth Bennet altered these expectations by walking alone to Netherfields. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife. This quotation from the launch of the play is an ironic one. It states that a man who is wealthy would be in want of a wife, when in fact, Jane Austin meant that a single woman, in the late eighteenth early nineteenth centuries, was in want of a man with substantial fortune! Women could not get jobs and therefore no money, so marriage was their best option. Women at this time could not inherit any money or live alone, if they were unmarried, they would have to live with family or as a companion to a rich widow. Men of this era disliked women who spoke their mind and expressed their opinions, and were shunned if they did so, although Mr Darcy admired Elizabeth due to this quality. Women were also expected to respect social class and breeding above good Character. The way you were perceived in society was much more important than personality and the nature of the person. This furthermore links to the fact that they had to respect rank. Rank, as if to say the persons stature in society. Elizabeth did show respect for rank the majority of the time, but then rebels when she spoke to Lady Catherine De Burge later on in the novel. The qualities which a heroine of that era should possess are those completely unexpected of a lady. She should be able to speak her mind clearly, independent and an individual. All these rebellious qualities of the time are all seen in Elizabeth Bennets attitude, manner and the way in which she carries herself, proving that she is truly a heroine. This essay will prove this hypothesis, that Elizabeth is a character in English literature, which has sculpted they way in which women are treated today.

Throughout this novel, Elizabeth Bennet has expressed her strong opinion towards marriage and has made it clear that she would only marry if there was a strong intellectual and stimulating bond between them both; but she also desired financial security, and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! Unlike Elizabeth, Charlotte Lucas was only interested in capital and living a comfortable life, she had no interest for love, she says I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only for a comfortable home. A great example of Elizabeths determination was when she refused Mr Collins proposal. "You are too hasty, Sir," she cried. "You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without farther loss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me, I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than decline them." From this quotation we can clearly see that Elizabeth was not at all discouraged to decline Mr Collins proposal, even though it was a rarity for a woman to reject a mans offer. This also shows the courage and valour which she holds, Elizabeth was not intimidated by her pushy mother or at all worried about the consequences. Something an average woman of that time would never dream of doing.

After all the commotion with Mr Collins, Elizabeth was shocked to find out that her best friend Charlotte Lucas had accepted the proposal from him. Although Charlottes marriage of convenience to Mr. Collins is criticized by Elizabeth, her situation and marriage is much more realistic than is Elizabeths for nineteenth-century Britain. Even though Elizabeth cannot understand Charlottes reasons for marrying Mr. Collins, she does respect Charlottes sound management of her household and her ability to see as little of Mr. Collins as possible but now she has set herself a life of falseness and boredom all due to the fact that she wanted a comfortable living.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy have had the rockiest relationship recorded in English literature. They had first met at the Meryton ball along with Mr Bingley and his sisters. Elizabeths first impressions of Mr Darcy were very limited. She had only seen the way in which he held himself and stared. She felt as if he was a cold and arrogant man, since he did not want to dance with anyone and was the curmudgeon of the evening. As Elizabeth was seated at the ball, she over heard a conversation between Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, Which do you mean? and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; The rudeness with which Darcy treats Elizabeth creates a negative impression of him in her mind, one that will remain for nearly half of the novel, until the original decency of his character is gradually made known to her. Even though Elizabeth has harsh judgements about Mr Darcy, she cannot help but feel attracted to his intellectual charm if not his personality. Elizabeth cant resist a man who is fond of reading, writing and nature. As time passed, Elizabeth and Darcy got better acquainted and started to support each others company, until the time came for Mr Darcy to blunder all over again. In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. Elizabeth was shocked indeed but knew she could not accept this proposal because of the way she thought he treated Mr Wickham and the way in which he proposed all together. She felt as if he was doing her a favour, he was stooping down to her level, she felt ridiculed and stupid, she says I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed mineI can speak planer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart. Even though Elizabeth is under financial and family pressure to get married, she still stands up for what is right and what she believes in, and that is a mark of a true heroine.

One of Mr Darcys mortal enemies enters Meryton and a bitter feud commences. When Elizabeth encounters Mr Wickham she is immediately captivated by his appearance, fine countenance and good figure. But Wickham is not all what he claims to be, he revealed something to Elizabeth which would change her opinion on Mr Darcy forever; he said that the late Mr. Darcy promised to give him money, but Mr. Darcy didn't follow his father's words and denied him becoming a clergy-man, when in fact he was going to use the money to elope with Mr Darcys sister. Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends -- whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain says Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy tries to explain to Elizabeth that Mr Wickham is not what he seems, and writes it all down in a letter, clearing up the situation. In his letter he states, I knew that Mr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman. The business was therefore soon settled. He resigned all claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds After reading the letter, Elizabeth felt abused by Mr Wickham; he had cheated her and ill-treated her friendship. All along she was wrong about Mr Darcy, even though his temperament would not be overlooked.

Lydia is the youngest Bennet girl, and she is the biggest flirt as well. Lydia chases the soldiers quartered in Meryton and follows along when they move to Brighton. The whole Bennet family, except Mrs Bennet and kitty seem to find Lydia an embarrassment to the family. Elizabeth was appalled at Lydias behaviour at the wedding between herself and Mr Wickham. Lydia was being Lydia; wild, shameless, raucous, and daring, She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations; and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room, took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great while since she had been there.

Since Elizabeth found out about the true Mr Wickham, the relationship between her and Mr Darcy has blossomed. When she was staying at her aunt and uncles house, they decided to visit Darcys stately manner house, Pemberley. When they arrived they were greeted by Mr Darcys house keeper. She had only good things to say about Mr Darcy, He is the best landlord, and the best master, said she, that ever lived; As things between them both were going so smoothly, Mr Darcy though it was the right time to propose again, You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever, no, Elizabeth did not have the same feelings as last April, and she accepted the proposal.

Elizabeth Bennet is the strongest willed person in this whole novel. She persists and is determined to get what she has always wanted without being pressurised into doing anything. Being surrounded by aristocracy all the time has not made her overly proud and pompous but aware of people in those situations. Her lack of respect to those who do not respect her, even though they are of high social breeding has made her a heroine of her time. An example of this was when she dealt with the ignorant Bingley sisters, Miss Elizabeth Bennet! repeated Miss Bingley. I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? -- and pray when am I to wish you joy? Elizabeth replied, That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy Elizabeths quick witty remarks out smarted the Bingley sisters, therefore making her the stronger party.

Since the beginning of the play Elizabeth and Mr Darcys relationship has been one of disappointment, sorrow but eventually turning into happiness and true love. The fact that Elizabeths family disgraced her name made it very difficult to approach Mr Darcy, but he appreciated that she was the only one out of the family with some kind f intellectual interest and knowledge. Both of them began to enjoy each others company and rejoiced in the truth that they were going to be married no matter what society or class had to say.

Although, there was one woman whom thought the idea of her nephew getting married to someone lower in society than him was disgraceful. Her name was Lady Catherine De Burge and was a very rich widow. Lady Catherine came down to the Bennets estate to talk to Elizabeth about hid proposed marriage. But Elizabeth knew that she was not for it and was prepared for any remarks she might have thrown at her. She thinks that because she is a member of the aristocracy, she has the right to do anything. Lady Catherine says, It ought to be so; it must be so, while he retains the use of his reason. But your arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his family. You may have drawn him in. Elizabeth replies, If I have, I shall be the last person to confess it., once again Lady Catherine says with an irritated voice, Miss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been accustomed to such language as this. I am almost the nearest relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all his dearest concerns., then finally Elizabeth responds with a calm and collected tone, But you are not entitled to know mine; nor will such behaviour as this, ever induce me to be explicit. This conversation has elevated Elizabeths status in the eyes of the audience because she has stood up to a very important person in society, despite respecting breeding and social class.

Elizabeth has made a lot of preconceptions which have not necessarily been right. She was completely wrong about Mr Wickham and judged him bye the way he was dresses, his tone of voice and appearance. She was also wrong about Mr Darcy; she mistook him for a pompous fool with no emotion whatsoever, but then realised that Mr Wickham had lied and that Mr Darcy was the innocent party. However, she comprehends that she should not judge others from their appearance and should not be prejudiced.

In conclusion, Elizabeth Bennet has stood out form all the other characters in this novel all due to her academic and rebellious streak. Her courage and honesty to speak back at higher figures of authority have made her a true idol to the women of her time. Most women of that era would be too frightened to speak out about what they believed or what they didnt! Elizabeth has shone all these qualities and has realised her wrong doings as well as growing as a person mentally. Elizabeth Bennet is truly a heroine of her time!

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