The good and bad of Elizabeth Bennet

This A to Z journey was always intended as an eclectic one – to include characters from well-beloved to obscure. If you haven’t known the past few I’ve written about, here’s one you will know for sure and love too – Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

I have to admit I was sorely tempted to write about Edward Cullen today purely driven by Robert Pattinson’s looks (Yeah I can be superficial like that) but then my advisory committee (my sister and SIL) overruled me – darn the feminists!

Elizabeth Bennet it is.

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 film based on the novel

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 film based on the novel

Few authors feel as strongly about their characters as Austen felt about this one. In a letter to a friend she wrote : “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know“.

My problem with Elizabeth Bennet

Well I just might have been one of those who she would have found difficult to tolerate. I wasn’t much of an Elizabeth fan. When I began reading the book I thought Jane was the protagonist. In contrast, Elizabeth seemed cynical, critical and insufferably proud which was ironical since her dislike for Darcy was based on the fact the he was proud!

In one of the passages she says, “The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense”. Nobody, it seemed, was good enough for her.

However my biggest complaint is that she played favourites with her sisters. Even assuming it does happen when one has more than one sibling, I found her uncharacteristically hard-hearted when it came to Lydia. Oh Lydia was a pain, I agree. Siblings can be annoying, silly and painful beyond measure (In no way do I mean that mine are, just clarifying 🙂 ) but one does not stop loving them. At least that’s how I see it.

When Elizabeth receives Jane’s letter her first thought is that she has lost Mr Darcy. That might be forgiven considering she was young and in love but her next is about ‘-the humiliation, the misery, she (Lydia) was bringing on them all’. What about worrying for Lydia’s well-being? Of her being ill-used or hurt by Wickham? Elizabeth doesn’t think about it.

Did I get it wrong? Maybe we can blame it on the times which were such that public shame meant more than anything else.

Yet I like her because..

..she is smart and witty, independent and brave. Not many girls of that time would have refused a marriage of convenience when their future was far from safe. Not many girls do that even now.

She has a mind of her own and is wonderfully unapologetic about it. She prides herself in her judgement yet is quick to accept her error. When she discovers Wickham’s true self through Darcy’s letter how hard is she on herself!

“Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.”

That redeemed her in my eyes.

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With thanks to ABC Wednesday , that set me off on this fun journey and because of which I get to revisit some of my favourite friends.

abc 17 (1)

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33 thoughts on “The good and bad of Elizabeth Bennet

    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Ha ha ha Shailaja yes I thought that might come from you. As for Darcy – one coming up specially for you right away. I promise I’ll make it up.

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  1. Melody

    I know it from passing by during zapping on tv… thats all i know about it…

    But i like your entry because it breeths your enthusiasm all over 😉

    Melody (abc-w)

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Aw thanks Melody. Some characters from books are so much a part of our growing up years that we end up analysing them like real live people.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Heh Heh! Roger, you too? I have many interesting men coming up so one less is fine. Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. lesliebc

    I’d give you an A+ if you’d handed this in as an essay! But remember, the title IS “Pride and Prejudice.” 😀

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      An A+ from a teacher ! Thank you. You’re right about ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Thanks Ellen. Pride and Prejudice is well loved and often-watched for us too. I love almost all the versions. Have you seen the spin-offs like Lost in Austen. I enjoyed those too.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Some of the films are so well-made you might find the book tedious. But it is completely worth a try.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      That she is Hildred – only better than most since she’s quick to realise her folly.

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  3. Lata Sunil

    Elizabeth is one of my favourite characters from my favourite book. I love her a lot. My only grouse being she fell for Wickham s charms very quickly and lost it too very quickly. Rest everything I liked about her. Waiting for the analysis on my favourite character Mr. Darcy … ahh Colin Firth (agree with Shailaja).

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Mine too Lata. It’s only now that I can see some of her failings. Oh and as for Darcy – I could start a blog on him alone.

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  4. Ira PT

    She is someone with the flaws at a time when women were little meant petite, soft and everything unmanly; contrary to the prototypes of that era!

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      That’s exactly what makes her likeable – the trait that makes her think independently.

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  5. Sreesha

    I “liked” Pride and Prejudice when I was a kid (as opposed to those who “loved” it beyond all measure, I mean) but I liked it only for Elizabeth. Otherwise, it was just a story of a bunch of girls wanting to get married and that’s just meh. She was strong-willed and the fact that she had multi-layered traits made her more interesting than Jane, who was just too idealistic and nice.
    As for her thinking more about the family’s humiliation – yes, the times she lived in demanded she think more about the family’s honour than her sister’s well-being. Also, let’s face it, Lydia was bloody annoying! But, considering she was a strong character, unlike the riffraff heroines, one would only assume she had more brains than to think about “family honour”

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      I guess I read the book when I was too young – when there was a black and a white and I liked Jane better. However, I agree Elizabeth was a way more interesting character and I grew up to appreciate her uniqueness. You’re right without that there is no story.

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  6. Rajlakshmi

    I felt both Lizzie and Darcy were stubborn and slightly arrogant and definitely deserved each other 🙂 She it’s her strength of character that I loved the most 🙂

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  7. smile7850

    As many on here, P &P was a favorite reading in high school.. I think I choose to read it for extra reading in every class, I loved it so. I always thought Lizzie and Darcy were perfect for each other…. even though they both came from different class sets… Lizzie’s desire to compete in the world and make something of herself came from not only her intellect, but also, a bit of shame in her circumstances…. the glory in it for me was she could give as well as take whatever came her way….. which really paid off in her exchanges with the owner of Pemberley…

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      I like what you say – that she was very conscious of her circumstances and hence she competed for a place in the world. I love that she does it through her intellect.

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  8. Arnoldo L. Romero

    I love Jane Austen’s character Elizabeth, because she was a strong woman ahead of her time and very much realistic, as well. As humans, we all have good and bad sides to us. Blessings and happy ABC Wednesday! #46

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Welcome here Arnoldo. You’re right about Elizabeth. She was ahead of her times and that was held against her by her own mother.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Hmmm… you have a point. I do like Lizzie too but some of her characteristics just struck me as being out of character. She’s smart and sensitive so it seemed strange that those traits didn’t extend to her own sister. But then I guess just like real people she has her odd moments!!

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  9. shanayatales

    I hope I don’t get stoned for this, but I guess P&P has been the one book that fell through the cracks and I missed reading it. Sigh. Gotta remedy this now.

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