“Do not consider me now as an elegant female, intending to play you, but as a rational creature, speaking the truth from her heart.” ~ Elizabeth Bennet.

The twenty years old Elizabeth Bennet often known as Lizzie is the most intelligent and sensitive of all the five Bennet sisters. Her eyes aren’t the only ones to attract Mr. Darcy, it is her wit, rationality, and sensibility that make her so irresistible to Darcy. Perhaps it was her good sense that made her Mr. Bennet’s favorite child while Mrs. Bennet’s least favorite. She is self-assured and most importantly self-content with room for improvement. It was her excellent sense of observation that she can easily differentiate between foolishness and wisdom, “I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.”

Though Jane Austen’s characters reaffirm the expectations about female stereotypes, it is something refreshing about Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice as she challenges the gender norms and expresses her opinions without fear, stating that she even rejected Mr. Darcy when he first proposed to her on the grounds of his pride. She was ahead of her time, as in an age, where finding a husband not just decides women’s security in the society but also the survival of her family, she refused two advantageous proposals. This very act gives us a great insight into her strong character in the early 19th century.

Elizabeth Bennet

Even when Mr. Collins persuades her by stating that all women reject at first, Elizabeth sticks to her decision and straightforwardly says no to the proposal she somehow felt not for her. Such a type of rational response for a woman wasn’t common at that time as rationality was something reserved only for men. Based on economic gains, she was unwilling to kill her lifelong warmth and adoration. One can consider her as a protofeminist given by Jane Austen almost a century before the first Feminist movement started.

But not everything about her is appreciable and just like everyone, Elizabeth has her shares of faults.

First was her misjudgment about Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy’s relationship and despite misjudging the situation she remained adamant about believing unless she is given the vision to see the error. Her stubbornness in accepting her fault makes her character even more alive and humane. She derives her wrong interpretation of people based on her first interaction which is not a very good way to go. But these characteristics don’t define Elizabeth’s femineity, if anything provides feedback to her already strong personality.

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But not her all judgments are wrong. She correctly derives the personalities of Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Caroline Bingly as a fool, a tyrant, and a self-centered woman. And this was the reason she never summoned herself to their disrespectful behavior towards her family. Instead, she stood up and gave a fierce battle to even Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a woman with high societal status and Mr. Darcy’s aunt.

Elizabeth Bennet

It was indeed her personality that forces a strong man like Mr. Darcy to reflect on himself and change him for the better. Elizabeth changes his attitude towards women by giving him a head straight rejection. Mr. Darcy devalues her on his prediction that he knows what she wants which was a very common thought among men with power. But Elizabeth Bennet was one different woman who never led her guards down in front of anyone despite their social status. The duo fought and she wins when Darcy accepts her evaluation of him, and he changed for the better.

Jane Austen has given a character more than life in Elizabeth Bennet. One can easily mistake her as a real character if a reader belongs to the 21st century, however, she served as an inspiration for the one reading her back in the 19th century. Elizabeth is a fine-tuned character with a critical mindset and that sums up the question.

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