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Elizabeth Bennet - Essay Example

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From the beginning of Pride and Prejudice the reader clearly sees that Elizabeth Bennet is different from the rest of her family. Lively and intelligent, honest and virtuous, she seems to be a combination of all the best traits that are present in other members of her family…
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Elizabeth Bennet
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Comparison of Elizabeth Bennet, Lydia Bennet, and Mrs Bennet From the beginning of Pride and Prejudice the reader clearly sees that Elizabeth Bennet is different from the rest of her family. Lively and intelligent, honest and virtuous, she seems to be a combination of all the best traits that are present in other members of her family. In contrast, the few good qualities that Lydia Bennet and Mrs Bennet possess are completely overshadowed by their unashamedly bad behavior.
There are many things which distinguish Elizabeth from Lydia and Mrs Bennet. The latter two are quite similar in character, and it is mentioned that this makes Lydia the favorite of her mother (40), whereas Elizabeth Bennet is "the least dear to her of all her children". (87) Elizabeth is intelligent, and has a quick and lively wit. This in particular distinguishes her from Lydia and Mrs Bennet, because Pride and Prejudice makes heavy use of dialog to characterize people and tell the story. Elizabeth thinks and speaks on a variety of subjects, whereas Lydia and Mrs Bennet are concerned only with parties, officers, and husbands. Elizabeth is sometimes deeply embarrassed by the behavior of her family, and recognizes that Lydia's behavior is out of control in part due to lack of discipline on her mother's part: "supported by [her] mother's indulgence, what chance could there be of improvement" (175)
Both Elizabeth and Lydia are vivacious and lively, but while Elizabeth tempers these qualities with good manners and her understanding of and attention to social conventions, Lydia lacks any sort of good judgment. She is unable and unwilling to restrain her impulsive nature, and is never able to understand that her behavior reflects badly on herself and her family. Returning to Longbourne after marrying Wickham, Lydia is unrepentant, full of "ease and good spirits" (255) and thinks only of boasting about her marriage, and other "subjects which her sisters would not have alluded to for the world". (255)
Elizabeth shares few, if any qualities with her mother. Mrs Bennet is obsessed with finding husbands for her daughters, which in itself is not a bad quality. However she is so single-minded in her pursuit of this goal that she draws no distinctions between Lydia's method of gaining a husband and that of Elizabeth and Jane. Elizabeth is, quite correctly, mortified when Lydia elopes with Wickham and lives with him without seeming to care whether they ever marry, and she understands that the shame of Lydia's actions is not redeemed by the marriage that eventually takes place. In contrast Mrs Bennet welcomes Wickham and Lydia with open arms after the marriage and she is delighted with both of them and with the marriage.
As the novel comes to an end, the most obvious difference between all three women is that Elizabeth demonstrates an ability to change. During the course of the novel, she grows up. She is of course already more mature than the rest of her family from the start, but she still changes significantly as the story unfolds. At the start of the novel, Lydia Bennet is thoughtless and impulsive. Mrs Bennet is crass, foolish, and embarrassing. At the end of the story, neither of them has changed for the better and in fact Lydia has only become more shameless. At the start of the novel, Elizabeth is considerably more mature than either of them, but it is clear that she still has some growing up to do. She is thoughtful and intelligent, but she often lets her emotions get in the way of her good sense and there are many occasions where this causes her to seriously misjudge people and circumstances. Of the three, it is only Elizabeth who learns from her experiences and changes her thoughts and behavior as a result.
Works Cited
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Penguin Books: Middlesex, England. 1996. Read More
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