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
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.
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.