Character analysis in the novel "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen by Husain Necklace
1. Critical analysis of the characters in the novel
“Pride and Prejudice”
By: Husain Necklace
Al Jamea Saifiyah – Arabic Academy
“Pride and Prejudice” was the second novel published by the author Jane Austen in
the year 1813.
“Pride and Prejudice” could be accounted as one of the best works of the author. The
book is widely reknown and critically acclaimed by ample of critics and literrary
institutes. Along with that, it is praised worldwide and still brings joy, humor, and
romance into the lives of it readers.
The book is best known for its characters which the author has crafted with precise
details and peculiarity, making them remarkable for the readers who immediately
find them charming and amiable. As the novel progresses, the characters evolve and
take shape into their true identities – as per the author’s opinion – and baffle the
readers at every turn – especially the main characters.
The novel is also famous for its ironic perception of the society introduced in the
very first sentence of the very first chapter: “It is a truth universally acknowledged,
that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. This
statement alone plays a very important role in shaping the characters personality
throughout the novel – as per my opinion.
Hence, for the purpose of this analysis, I have decided to analyze the main characters
of the novel: Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Bingley,
Fitwilliam Darcy, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Collins in the perspective of the statement
by which Jane Austen draws the curtains and sets the stage for her novel. However,
this analysis is not based on the perception of irony, but rather upon the perception
of marriage, wealthy men and the appropriate wives for them.
3. Elizabeth Bennet:
Elizabeth is the second daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Bennet and by far one of the most
interesting characters in the novel. She is depicted as full of energy and affection by
the author. Readers are able to understand that when she walks three miles from her
house to Meryton in order to check up on her sister Jane. Through this, the readers
can also percieve the close bond between the two sisters; something which is
witnessed amongst these two characters alone and not amongst the rest of the sisters.
Moreover, she is quick-witted and not at all afraid to speak her mind. The evidence
of which is laid down in the novel through the arguments ensued between Mr. Darcy
and Elizabeth. For example, when Darcy mentioned his opinion of how a woman
should be learned in all aspects – music, dance etc – and how Elizabeth immediately
disputed with him and stated her own opinion. Similarly, when Mr. Darcy and
Elizabeth argue on the subject of handwriting while he wrote a letter to his sister
Furthermore, as identified by the readers, Elizabeth symbolizes “prejudice”
throughout the novel. That is evident from the very start when she makes a quick
and hasty opinion of Mr. Darcy through his behavior in the first ball without
understanding his situation nor his personality nor his character. That opinion and
her personal prejudice fences her from accepting his proposal towards the better half
of the novel.
Moving on, in relation to marriage, Jane Austen has portrayed Mr. Darcy and
Elizabeth’s marriage as the perfect fairytale which consists of problems, self
revelation, evolvement towards being a better person and finally a happy ending.
Some critics have also mentioned that Austen vocalizes her thoughts and opinions
about marriage through these two characters in opposition to the society’s view in
Likewise, she portrays her thoughts about the worse kind of marriage – committed
according to the society’s constitution – through juxtaposition and characters of Mr.
and Mrs. Bennet. She makes it apparent that that kind of marriage is nothing but a
sad compromise, as evident through the characters of Mr. Bennet – who’d rather
hide inside his library than face his obnoxious and complaining wife – and Mrs.
Bennet – who blames her husband for the entailment and obsesses over her daughters
4. Similarly, Austen depicts the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins in order
to percieve the notion of marrying someone for financial security – as are the views
of Charlotte in the novel. This kind of marriage fails to succeed like the former, as
the readers discern that Charlotte doesn’t really like her husband because she spends
most of her time in the house, ignores when her husband speaks and even has a room
designed and deligated to herself in order to escape from boredom and him.
Therefore, through this, Austen portrays her thoughts about the virtues of a “wife”
and the characteristics which they should possess.
5. Jane Bennet:
Jane Bennet is the elder-most daughter in the Bennet family and the “handsomest”
amongst the four according to Mrs. Bennet.
Austen’s readers will be able to notice that the character of Jane is sketched out by
her rather than thoroughly thought out and processed – like the character of
Elizabeth. This is evident through the novel as Jane is depicted as naïve, always able
to look at the good in people – even when there isn’t any – and always smiling. Her
conversations are, likewise, much simpler and at times even boring as they lack the
integrity and humor which permeates through Elizabeth’s voice and tone. In
juxtaposition to Elizabeth, Jane is fairly drawn out but readers are able to notice that
Austen didn’t spend as much time developing her as she did with Elizabeth.
However, there are also a few similarities between the two sisters, one of the most
evident being the affection which both of them possess for each other and their
tendency to confide in each other; as acted out by Jane after the first ball when she
discusses with Elizabeth her opinion about Mr. Bingley and explains to her that Mr.
Darcy couldn’t be as bad as she thinks. Similarly, Mr. Bennet likes the two of them
most because they are much smarter than their two younger sisters and mother. This
can be understood because the two of them were the only one’s who understood the
matter of the entail and tried explaining it to their mother.
Moving on, if one were to compare her character with Mr. Bingley, they would
notice that in some aspects the two of them are the same. For example: both have a
tendency to smile, they don’t quickly judge people or make opinions about them,
both characters partly depart from the middle of the novel and make an entrance
again towards the end and both of them almost immediately fall in love with each
other the moment they first meet.
Furthermore, in respect to marriage. The marriage between Jane and Mr. Bingley is
something the readers perceived would happen from the very first time that the two
of them met in the ball and danced together. Moreover, the manner in which Bingley
treated her and showed his hospitality to her sister – Elizabeth – while Jane was sick
confirms his affection for her from the very start.
The fact that Austen decided to conjure such problems and misunderstandings
between the perfect couple testifies her opinions about “the truth…property of some
one or other of their daughters”
6. Likewise, in order to give her own opinions about the customs of the society
mentioned in the opening lines of the novel – “It is a truth universally…” – Austen
uses these two characters as her medium.
This been said, Austen still portrays her thoughts about a successful marriage
through them and the virtues which a good “wife” should possess through Jane, as
she depicts her as someone who is consummate in the arts required from a woman
in the 18th
7. Charlotte Lucas:
The character of Charlotte represents the mindset and thinking process of the woman
in the 18th
century according to Austen.
As portrayed in the novel, Charlotte feels that a man who is “wealthy” is allowed to
have “pride”. This is the opposite of how her best friend Elizabeth thinks. The two
characters also differ in aspects and views of marriage. Where Elizabeth thinks that
it is necessary for a husband and wife to love each other in order to live together – a
concept perhaps derived after witnessing the life of her own parents – Charlotte
expresses her views that as long as a woman gets financial security she should be
happy and content.
However, the readers are able to notice the error of her decision and perspective after
she’s married to Mr. Collins – a man whom she neither loves nor has any affection
Moreover, here, the opening statement of the book – “It is a truth…single man in
possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife” – is in most effect, as the two
characters, Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas, perform exactly as stated. Hence,
highlighting the downfall of such misconceptions and error in the social system of
that century – according to Austen’s belief.
8. Caroline Bingley:
The character of Caroline Bingley is the essence of dignified and aristocratic woman
of the 18th
century who possessed a very high opinion of themselves and
understood all those inferior to them compared to the likes of ‘nothing’.
Caroline is the embodiment of Austen’s opinion about the society and social
discrimination – because the character appears to act and react in those similar
manner. For example, when she dissuades Bingley from marrying Jane because she
is of an inferior class and because the society wouldn’t accept it. Likewise, when she
tries too hard to get Mr. Darcy’s attention and tries too hard to impress him because
he, according to her, should be married to her. Hence, she accepts everything he says
and does everything a typical aristocratic woman would do to impress a man of a
high social ranking and wealth.
However, Caroline Bingley fails at her ploys because Mr. Darcy is much interested
and moved by Elizabeth as she has a tendency to speak her mind, refute statements
which make no sense to her and argue, debate and reason where she feels she can
win – exactly opposite to what any other typical aristocratic woman would do to
impress a man. Similarly, every time Caroline tries to engage Mr. Darcy into an
interesting conversation, Elizabeth speaks her mind and soon her and Mr. Darcy are
embroiled into an exciting conversation which results to be far better and interesting
than Caroline’s talk about books or letters or woman and the characteristics which
they should possess.
Therefore, the readers are not surprised when she builds a sense of enmity against
Elizabeth and feels jubilant when she succeeds into convincing her brother – Mr.
Bingley – into shifting from Meryton.
Through this, the readers can discern and contemplate that Caroline lacked the traits
of a good “wife” – something which Austen crafted with utmost care in order to
vocalize her thoughts and opinions.
9. Fitzwilliam Darcy:
The character of Mr. Darcy is a personal favorite of mine throughout the novel. They
way Austen uses him in order to narrate the kind of gentleman a woman would want
to fall in love with and marry is remarkable.
The chemistry between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is apparent from the very start of
the novel. However, what is of interest is the manner in which Austen portrays an
image of a “wealthy man” through this character.
At first, in the beginning of the novel, readers quickly judge Mr. Darcy – much like
Elizabeth – as arrogant and too proud of himself. This opinion stems from various
reasons, one of which could be the manner in which he acts in the very first ball of
the novel and through his statement “she is not handsome enough to tempt me”. Yet,
as the novel progresses, along with the perceptions and views of Elizabeth, the
readers perceptions and views change about the character, too. This happens after
Mr. Darcy has proposed to Elizabeth and has been rejected and undergoes a process
of self revelation and evolvement. The readers go through this process as well and
finally understand why Mr. Darcy acted the way he did; so that he would keep
ambitious and aristocratic woman, such as Caroline Bingley, away.
Furthermore, in comparison to Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy is much more methodical
and analytical in nature. This is evident through the writing style of the two
characters. Where Mr. Bingley writes fast and “blotches the remaining words”, Mr.
Darcy is much more patient and writes every word “with much thought” and
In contrast to Mr. Collins Mr. Darcy is a far better man without a doubt. While Mr.
Collins feels important to expound upon everything and speak in long convulsed
sentences – such as the proposal to Elizabeth and the ensuing details and reasons for
him choosing her – Mr. Darcy is direct and to the point; evidence of which is
scattered throughout the novel and a simple example of which would be when he
states his opinion about the attributes of a woman in short sentences without feeling
the need of providing reasons for his opinion. Likewise, where Mr. Collins feels it
necessary to mention his wealth and his connection with Lady Catherine to every
person he meets, Mr. Darcy is much more quiet and unconversant – with no need of
mentioning his wealth to anyone.
Similarly, in opposition to Mr. Wickham, readers can contemplate the errors of first
impression. Much like Elizabeth, readers, too at first think highly of Mr. Wickham
10. and low of Mr. Darcy. However as the novel progresses and the details of the feud
between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham become apparent, readers, much like
Elizabeth, notice their errors.
Moreover, Austen associates wealth with this character, yet even then she portrays
him in the manner in which her thoughts and opinions about the society are clear.
She uses this character to make apparent that no matter the amount of wealth a person
may possess, a woman will, as a result, marry him and not his wealth. If it is the
opposite then marriages such as Mr. Collins and Charlotte are an example for them
to learn from.
11. Mr. Bingley:
The character of Mr. Bingley, much like Jane Bennet, is rather sketched out by
Austen than properly drawn and crafted – like Mr. Darcy.
Austen associates Mr. Bingley with wealth and a close relationship with her hero
Mr. Darcy. However, there can be identified several differences amongst the two.
For example: Mr. Bingley is seen listening and being persuaded by others rather than
to listen to his own mind and heart. When his sister Caroline suggests that they leave
the estate in Meryton and return, he agrees without considering the growing
relationship between him and Jane. Likewise, when Mr. Darcy enumerates to him
the social problems and the rift seething between Jane and him he quickly decides
to end his relationship with Jane without considering how he actually feels about
On the contrary, Mr. Darcy appears to be the complete opposite. He possesses the
wits and tendency to oppose others if he knows that what he thinks is correct. An
example of this is seen when Lady Catherine tries to dissuade him from marrying
Elizabeth, yet he still goes ahead and proposes to her.
Similarly, where Mr. Bingley is open to people and energetic in conversations and
making new friends, Mr. Darcy is much reserved and speaks every single word after
much thought and with supreme care. This is evident through the characters actions
in the first ball – when Mr. Bingley jubilantly dances with the ladies of Derbyshire
and Mr. Darcy neglects to do so.
The character of Mr. Bingley also lacks the charm and appeal which is present in
Mr. Darcy; as Bingley is always happy, smiling, open to conversations and making
new friends. Therefore, readers are not much intrigued or curious in relation to his
character as they are with the Character of Mr. Darcy.
This been said, the opening statement of the novel – “It is a truth…” – can be
associated with him as well. As Mr. Bingley is a “man of wealth” and represents, in
some way or the other, Austen’s opinions about how a gentleman should be;
however, he doesn’t come close to Mr. Darcy in that context.
12. Mr. Collins:
The character of Mr. Collins is depicted as an obnoxious and overly annoying man
by Austen in her novel. In some ways, one could suggest that she has used this
character to display the obnoxious and annoying men of the 18th
thought highly of themselves only because of their wealth, gender and their
connections with higher society.
Mr. Collins is the kind of character who expounds upon everything and tries to
enumerate his reasons for the choices he makes. For example when he chooses
Elizabeth as his wife and then enumerates the reasons which guided him towards his
Furthermore, he is a comic character who doesn’t care or think about what he’s
speaking or the conversations he is entangled in. All of his conversations begin with
the subject of Lady Catherine and end by the position he holds in her eyes.
This nature of his is reflected in his letters. It also provides the readers with a reason
– other than the entail – as to why Mr. Bennet dislikes him and disagrees for
Elizabeth to marry him. The same reason becomes the cause for Elizabeth’s dislike
towards him. However, Mrs. Bennet – unable to look beyond her obsession of
getting her daughters married – thinks that as long as he is financially accounted for
it is alright for her daughter to marry him. This shows that Mrs. Bennet doesn’t really
think much when it comes to sending one of her daughters off; something which is
much clearly displayed with the marriage of Lydia and Mr. Wickham. This been
said, Elizabeth has the good sense of noticing Mr. Collins’s boring and obnoxious
nature to refuse his proposal.
In accordance to the opening statement of the novel – “It is a truth…” – readers can
notice that his character plays a role in securing the statement as well. As Mr. Collins
is depicted as a man who thinks that by having “wealth” he is able to command the
heart of any woman he chooses to marry. Hence, explaining Austen’s portrayal of
the characteristics of a gentleman with whom a woman would fall in love and would
want to marry.
Likewise, an evidence for the statement above could be the marriage of him and
Charlotte Lucas – which evidently doesn’t succeed, as previously discussed. From
that, readers can also make an assumption that marriage to Mr. Collins was nothing
more than a business deal or rather a transaction, something which he was obliged
to do because the society demanded it from him, which is why he states that Lady
13. Catherine suggested that a person of his stature and age should probably get married
when he visits the Bennet’s at their house. From this, stems the question that would
Mr. Collins ever decide to visit the Bennet’s if not for Lady Catherine and her
suggestion of him being married? Or would Mr. Collins ever think of marriage if not
for Lady Catherine? Questions which’s answers probably lie with the author of the