- "I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."
- —Lizzy about Mr. Darcy's pride.
Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bennet (later Elizabeth Darcy) is the female protagonist of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and has four sisters; Jane, Mary, Catherine "Kitty", and Lydia. The family lives in Hertfordshire at the estate of Longbourn, near the town of Meryton. The novel primarily focuses on Elizabeth's evolving relationship with Fitzwilliam Darcy.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality and Traits
- 3 Physical Appearance
- 4 Relationships
- 5 Bennet Family
- 6 Titles
- 7 Portrayals
- 8 References
Meeting Mr. Darcy
Elizabeth is not as excited as her mother or her sisters when Mrs. Bennet learns that wealthy bachelor Charles Bingley has purchased Netherfield, one of the great estates near Meryton. At a ball in Meryton, when Mr. Bingley arrives, he expresses an interest in Jane, which delights Elizabeth. However, when Elizabeth overhears his wealthier friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, snub her, she immediately develops a dislike towards him. She promises to never dance with him.
When Jane is invited to dine at Netherfield by Bingley's sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, Mrs. Bennet sets her up to fall sick so she'll have to stay at Netherfield. Lizzy immediately goes to the aid of her sister. When not attending to Jane, she often engages in a battle of wits with Mr. Darcy. They return home when Jane eventually gets better.
Meeting Mr. Wickham
Soon after, the Bennets are visited by William Collins, Mr. Bennet's cousin who is to inherit the entailed Longbourn estate. Mr. Collins looks to "extend an olive branch" by marrying one of the Bennet daughters. He sets his sights on Elizabeth, but Elizabeth is not interested in him at all.
Elizabeth meets George Wickham, an officer who has arrived with the militia to stay in Meryton. She notices that he and Mr. Darcy have a tense encounter when they see each other. She asks Mr. Wickham about it, and he tells her that he was the godson of Mr. Darcy's father, and was raised with the younger Darcy. When his godfather died, he was supposed to inherit a living at a parsonage, but Mr. Darcy refused to give it, leaving Wickham to provide for himself by joining the army. Appalled at Mr. Darcy's behavior, Elizabeth's dislike for him grows, while she gains an affection for Wickham.
The Netherfield Dance
At the Netherfield ball, Elizabeth is disappointed to not see Wickham. She is shocked when Mr. Darcy asks her to dance, and accepts, unprepared for the request. During the dance, she again engages him in a battle of wits. She brings up Wickham, hoping to make him uncomfortable, and it works. Though Mr. Darcy meets her challenge, the two are still as tense with each other as before. At dinner, Elizabeth is embarrassed by the inelegant and uncouth behaviour of her mother, her younger sisters, and Mr. Collins.
The following day, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, but she flatly rejects him. Though her mother is outraged by her refusal, her father supports her decision. Mr. Collins withdraws his proposal, and soon after gets engaged to Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth is shocked when Mr. Bingley and his group suddenly quit Netherfield, and suspects that his sisters and Mr. Darcy are trying to get him away from Jane. Elizabeth continues to spend time with Mr. Wickham, enjoying his company.
Visit to Hunsford
Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Hunsford in Kent, at Charlotte's request, with Sir Lucas and Maria Lucas. While there, she meets Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins' patroness and Mr. Darcy's aunt. Mr. Darcy also comes to his aunt's home of Rosings Park, along with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth notices that he seems to make an effort to spend time with her, and talk to her, something that both confuses and annoys her. While out on a walk, Elizabeth comes across Colonel Fitzwilliam, who shares that Mr. Darcy talked Mr. Bingley out of marrying her sister Jane. Upset by the news, she stays at Hunsford when Charlotte and Mr. Collins head to dinner at Rosings. Mr. Darcy comes by Hunsford, looking for her, and eventually admits that he's in love with her and wishes to marry her, despite their differences in wealth and status. Elizabeth, both insulted and shocked, rejects his proposal. When Mr. Darcy asks why, she brings up his actions against both Jane and Wickham. Finally, on his complaint of her apparent bitterness, she replies that the arrogant way by which he proposed prevented her from feeling concerns for him she "might have felt... had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner." Mr. Darcy leaves, and Elizabeth is reeling from the encounter.
The next day, Elizabeth is out on a walk when she encounters Mr. Darcy, who hands her a letter before leaving. In the letter, Mr. Darcy explains his actions, saying that he believed Jane to be indifferent, and thought Bingley's affection was more than Jane's. He also said that the Bennets lack any social decorum, except Elizabeth and Jane. Regarding Wickham, he reveals that he did give Wickham the living his father willed him, but Wickham refused it, and was instead given money, which he squandered. Wickham then tried to elope with Darcy's sister, Georgiana, to gain her fortune when she was only fifteen. Elizabeth doesn't initially believe the letter, but when she recounts Wickham's words and his behaviour towards Mr. Darcy, as well as her own family's unscrupulous behaviour, she starts to change her opinion. Elizabeth realises Mr. Darcy was telling the truth, and she missed the signs of Wickham's true character because she was blinded by prejudice and her wounded pride.
Lizzy returns to Longbourn soon after, and makes an effort to distance herself from Wickham. He soon leaves Meryton with the militia, and heads to Brighton. She is indifferent and distant towards him, and is glad that she will probably never see him again. Elizabeth is distressed when her youngest sister Lydia, a renowned flirt, is invited to accompany the militia to Brighton, and tries to get her father to intervene. Mr. Bennet doesn't listen, and Lydia heads to Brighton.
Soon after, her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, take Elizabeth on a summer trip around Derbyshire. They hope to visit Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's estate, but Elizabeth is reluctant to go, not willing to face Mr. Darcy. She agrees to go after finding out that the family is away for the summer. She unexpectedly meets Mr. Darcy when he returns home, unannounced. Her surprise mounts again when he shows a great degree of hospitality and kindness to both her and her relations. He also asks to introduce her to his sister, which Elizabeth agrees to. She meets Georgiana for the first time, and immediately likes her.
Return to Longbourn
Jane writes to Elizabeth, informing her that Lydia has eloped with Wickham. Elizabeth goes to inform Mr. Gardiner, but encounters Mr. Darcy, and confides in him about Lydia. He consoles her before leaving, and Elizabeth believes she will never see him again. Lizzy returns to Longbourn with the Gardiners, and tries to manage handling the household with Jane while their mother is hysterical and their father is way searching for Lydia. Mr. Gardiner leaves for London to help, and sends Mr. Bennet back to Longbourn. Lizzy laments having known Wickham's true nature and not revealing it. Lydia and her family are ruined forever.
Mr. Bennet soon receives a letter from Mr. Gardiner, stating that Lydia and Wickham are not yet married, but will be soon if Mr. Bennet will agree to pay Wickham's creditors in Meryton. Elizabeth is shocked when Mr. Bennet is only asked to ensure Lydia will be given the same settlement that was originally promised for all the daughters (£1000) plus £100 per annum. Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet realise that Wickham was probably bribed a substantial amount by Mr. Gardiner to marry Lydia. Though glad that Lydia and the Bennets are no longer ruined, Elizabeth despairs over the marriage circumstance, believing that Mr. Darcy is now lost to her.
After Lydia and Mr. Wickham are wed, they visit Longbourn, where Elizabeth remains civil, but distant from both. When Lydia brags about her marriage to Elizabeth, she lets it slip that Mr. Darcy was at her wedding, shocking Elizabeth. She writes to Mrs. Gardiner, and finds out that Mr. Darcy was the one who found the couple and paid Wickham to marry Lydia. Elizabeth effectively ends any friendship with Mr. Wickham by implying that she knows the truth about his past, and he departs with Lydia to the north.
Mr. Darcy's Return
When Mr. Bingley returns to town and visits Longbourn, Elizabeth is surprised to see Mr. Darcy with him. Almost everyone still dislikes Darcy, not knowing what he's done for them.  Elizabeth is unable to make out his true feelings, and loses hope for him when he departs for London. After Mr. Bingley and Jane finally get engaged, Elizabeth unexpectedly gets a visit from Lady Catherine, who heard that she would soon be engaged to Mr. Darcy. She refuses to sanction the match, as she wants Mr. Darcy to marry her own daughter, Anne. Elizabeth holds her ground, and refuses to let Lady Catherine bully her into giving up Mr. Darcy.
Engagement and Marriage
Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley return to Longbourn, and Elizabeth is finally alone with Mr. Darcy when they separate from a walk with Jane and Mr. Bingley. She finally expresses her gratitude to him for helping Lydia and keeping her family from ruin. Mr. Darcy says he only did it for her, and tells her that his affections have never changed towards her. Elizabeth, elated, confesses to Mr. Darcy that her feelings for him have changed, and she also is in love with him. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal, and the two get engaged. Initially met with disbelief, their engagement delights Lizzy's family. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy get married, and settle in Pemberley, with Elizabeth recognising she finally gained the happiness she always wanted.
Personality and Traits
Elizabeth is an exceptionally intelligent, witty, and talented young woman who is described as having "a lively playful disposition that delighted in anything ridiculous". Though her manners could be just as flawless as those of Jane's, they were often tempered with a playful, good-natured impertinence that was endearing instead of offensive. She is also able to play the pianoforte and sing like Mary, though her performances, despite being "by no means capital", are still described as so "pleasing" that others found it a true pleasure to listen to, which was a sharp contrast to Mary's abysmal musical performances.
Early on, Elizabeth was depicted as being personally proud of her intelligence and her sense of discernment, and took pleasure in laughing at or ridiculing the follies of others, though it was not to the same extreme extent that her father did. Due to her own parents' unhappy marriage, as well as her own idealised views of romance and marriage, she was also determined not to enter into a marriage just for the sake of financial security or convenience, which ultimately led to her friendship with Charlotte being strained when Charlotte accepted Mr. Collins' proposal.
However, after thoroughly reflecting over Mr. Darcy's letter of explanations, Elizabeth came to understand that first impressions were not always reliable, and that she herself was as vulnerable to being prideful and prejudiced as anyone else - she realised how her pride had been wounded by Mr. Darcy's slight during their first meeting, which led her to be prejudiced against him, and that prejudice was only strengthened by Mr. Wickham's supposed preference for her. Her stay with Charlotte (the new Mrs. Collins) at Hunsford also led her to acknowledge that even a marriage of financial security could be a fair compromise, as demonstrated by how Charlotte avoided her husband as much as possible and fully utilised the comforts her new status gave her, though Elizabeth still did not fully approve of her friend's choices.
Subsequently, especially after her return to Longbourn from Hunsford, Elizabeth started to mature mentally: instead of contenting herself with either laughing at or dismissing her family's impropriety, she tried her best to curb them, though her efforts were futile due to her father's indolence and her mother's indulgence. She also acknowledged to herself that, though she truly loved her father, and she herself had always been his favourite daughter, he had failed their family miserably, and he should have done much better than he had. Later on, when she learned of Lydia's elopement with Wickham, she openly broke down in tears in front of Darcy - besides her worry and fear for her sister, she was also guilt-ridden and ashamed over her previous decision to conceal her knowledge of Wickham's true character, for she reasoned it as one of the primary factors that led to the scandalous elopement. This demonstrates that, for all her flaws, Elizabeth was a person who could admit her own mistakes, and do whatever she could to make amends for them.
Last but not least, Elizabeth possessed an abundance of true courage - despite the indisputable fact that a marriage of convenience was the most likely way to secure her future after her father's death, Elizabeth was adamant in her refusal to enter into a marriage where neither true affection, nor friendship, nor respect could exist, as demonstrated by her rejection of Mr. Collins' proposal. While Sir Lucas (who was presented at Court) was utterly awed by Rosings, Elizabeth was not in the least intimidated by Rosings' opulence or Lady Catherine, though she was as duly respectful as a guest should be. The most commendable instance of her courage would be how she held her own against Lady Catherine when the noblewoman tried to intimidate her into not marrying Darcy - she went as far as to observe that she and Darcy were equals ("He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter; so far we are equal"), and that Lady Catherine's arguments against their union were "frivolous and ill-judged".
In the novel, Elizabeth was described to be the second prettiest and most beautiful of the five Bennet sisters, with an attractive figure, intelligent features, and beautiful expressive dark eyes that caught even Mr. Darcy's admiration.
Elizabeth's evolving relationship with Mr. Darcy is the basis of the novel. Elizabeth is initially hurt when Mr. Darcy slights her, and believes him to be too proud and arrogant when they first meet. Her dislike for him grows over time, and she believes that he views her the same way. She often argues with him, not afraid to challenge his superior position. When he declares his love for her, Elizabeth is shocked, having never believed it possible. When she rejects him and he subsequently defends himself, she realises how she misjudged him because of her own pre-formed conceptions of his character.
The self-realisation of her actions changes her behaviour. Facing Mr. Darcy again, she is embarrassed and nervous around him, upset by her misjudgment of his character. When he starts showing a kinder side of his character, Elizabeth is more eager to impress, and is not able to speak as freely. Elizabeth finally realises her love when she is faced with the idea of never seeing him again. Her love is powerful enough to trust him when she confides to Mr. Darcy about Lydia's elopement. She resigns herself to having lost the man she loves, because of the disgrace Lydia brought to her family.
When she finds out he helped ensure Lydia and Wickham get married, she is encouraged that his affections for her still exist. When Mr. Darcy confirms this, Elizabeth accepts his proposal. She sees that her passionate hate for Darcy has changed into a more deeply passionate love, and Elizabeth's maturity makes her grateful that the love is not superficial. Elizabeth and Darcy were both humbled by the other, and together, matured over time to eventually fall in love and get married.
Elizabeth is Mr. Bennet's favourite child, and is described by him by having "something more of quickness than her sisters." They both share a playful disposition of being able to laugh at others, and acknowledging that others will laugh at them. Despite her father's fondness for her, Elizabeth knows her father's flaws in his character. Her wish to marry for love is somewhat spurred by her father's own weak-will, unable to exert discipline in his household. Elizabeth hopes to find a partner that can be her equal, unlike her parents. Elizabeth realises that her father's insightfulness will not let him believe her engagement to Mr. Darcy, as he knows that she initially perceived him to be disagreeable. She tells her father that she is relying on her impression of Darcy over time rather than their first encounter in making her decision. She is thus able to secure her father's approval, as Mr. Bennet recognises his own daughter's intelligence in changing her opinion..
Elizabeth is described as being the child that her mother is "least fond" of, probably because she is the least likely to yield to her mother's reasoning. Mrs. Bennet's attitude towards marriage is only to secure her daughters financially and socially, as evidenced by her wishing Lizzy to marry Mr. Collins. Her superficial view of the world contrasts with Elizabeth's own wish to look deeper than the surface. When she refuses Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet refuses to talk to her, but Elizabeth does not care, as she prefers to spend as little time with her mother as possible. Elizabeth is mortified by her mother's behaviour, seeing her as a source of embarrassment to the whole family. After undergoing a self-realisation of her own attitude, Elizabeth is uncommonly nervous of her mother's reaction of her engagement to Mr. Darcy, unsure of what she will think. Fortunately for Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet's superficial attitude prevails, and she is happier over her daughter marrying a wealthy husband.
Elizabeth is the second of five sisters. Her oldest sister, Jane, is her closest companion. The two share similar traits, though Elizabeth's wit often makes her see people for what is behind their socially acceptable veneer, as opposed to Jane. While Elizabeth does not share this opinion, she does not try to change Jane's mind on being optimistic of the world. She confides to Jane more than anyone, and Jane, likewise, does the same. The two are often the only sound minds of reason in the household. Between their father's indifference and mother's neurosis, they have to take it upon themselves to ensure that there is order in their family. Elizabeth is fiercely loyal to Jane more than her other sisters or even her parents, as she was angry at Mr. Darcy for ruining Jane's happiness more than insulting her family. When Elizabeth's personality shifts, so do her interactions with Jane, as she often withholds information and admits that she is unsure of her own perceptions. She only confides to Jane when she finally is able to understand and accept her own feelings, after she gets engaged to Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth's younger sister, Mary, is often a source of embarrassment for her. Though Elizabeth acknowledges that she's trying hard to please herself because she is often overshadowed by her sisters and her parents, Mary's behavior can often be a source of mortification and embarrassment to Elizabeth. Like most of her family, though, she is more likely to ignore Mary.
Kitty, the fourth sister, is also a family member who Elizabeth does not wish to be associated with. Elizabeth knows that Kitty's behaviour is modelling after Lydia, who Kitty constantly is following around. Elizabeth and Jane both tried to convince Kitty not to follow Lydia's example when they were younger, but after Kitty repeatedly protested, she gave up trying to help her sister. Fortunately, after Lydia's elopement, and Jane and Elizabeth marrying, Kitty depended on her eldest sisters' influence instead, and changed for the better.
Elizabeth's youngest sister, Lydia, is the wildest and most reckless sister of all the five. She is also as headstrong as Elizabeth, and is likely to fight back if Elizabeth ever makes a suggestion to Lydia. When Elizabeth becomes aware of how Lydia's behaviour has ruined the social standing of both her and Jane in the eyes of outsiders, she tries to get her father to understand that Lydia, unguarded, will most likely cause embarrassment to her entire family. Mr. Bennet doesn't listen, and Elizabeth is later proven right when Lydia elopes with Wickham. After her marriage to Mr. Darcy, though Elizabeth refuses to provide Lydia and Wickham money, she is insightful enough to know of her sister's recklessness, and pays off debts that Lydia leaves behind.
Elizabeth was immediately drawn to Mr. Wickham, finding him charming and alluring with people-pleasing manners. His charisma often draws people in, including Elizabeth, and she believes him when he claims to have been wronged by Mr. Darcy. Though Elizabeth seems attached to him, she later acknowledges that her feelings were not of love, because she was not hurt at his preferring someone else. When Elizabeth is later made aware of Wickham's past, she realises that she missed many signs of his true character, as she was conned and deceived by Wickham's manners. The accusatory banter she often engaged in with Mr. Darcy initially, she instead starts to aim at Wickham. Wickham cannot argue back with her though, and she delights in making him squirm. After his marriage to Lydia, Elizabeth is coy in admitting that she knows the truth about Wickham's character, but Wickham is able to gather enough to realise Elizabeth is not deceived by him and attempts to avoid any future interactions with Elizabeth, which she is fine with.
Mrs. Phillips is Elizabeth's maternal aunt. Elizabeth never interacts with Mr. Phillips in the novel, but her perception of Mrs. Phillips is not different from Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Phillips often shares the same views as her sister, though Elizabeth is not often arguing with her as much as her mother. Elizabeth is particularly embarrassed by Mrs. Phillips' vulgarity after her engagement to Mr. Darcy, and is thankful she and Darcy will be at Pemberley, and away from Mrs. Phillips' rudeness.
Elizabeth's maternal uncle, Edward Gardiner and his wife, Mrs. Gardiner, are another story. They are the only truly sensible adults in Elizabeth's life, and often provide the parenting advice and guidance that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet fail to give. Elizabeth is very close to both of them, sharing their sensibility and insightfulness. Though she ignores her mother's advice, Elizabeth will listen to her aunt when she gives advice. Elizabeth and Darcy credit Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner for bringing them together, and stay close to both of them after their marriage.
William Collins is a distant cousin of Mr. Bennet and the heir to Longbourne, as the estate is entailed. Elizabeth finds him obsequious, pompous, and arrogant, with an obnoxious sense of self-esteem. Mr. Collins' wish to marry Elizabeth is only to increase the good opinion of himself, not because he has any real interest in her. Elizabeth laughs at him behind his back, not believing much of his standing or connections, of which he proudly boasts. When Elizabeth flatly rejects his proposal, Mr. Collins does not believe her refusal, until Mrs. Bennet says that Elizabeth will not accept him. After Mr. Collins marries Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth sees that he tries to make Elizabeth regret giving him up, but Elizabeth does not indulge his whim, showing happiness at being welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Collins rather than longing.
Charlotte is Elizabeth's best friend, and someone she confides in almost as much as Jane. They both share intelligence and sensibility, but Charlotte's age has made her less ambitious and more practical in her view of marriage, compared to Lizzy. Charlotte was the first to notice Mr. Darcy's interest in Elizabeth, and suspect he was in love with her friend. Despite Charlotte marrying Mr. Collins, Lizzy realised that Charlotte's demeanour did not change after her marriage, and she was more focused on keeping her friend than being upset over her choice in a husband. Charlotte chose a more practical option for marriage, while Elizabeth chose to marry for love.
- Father: Mr. Bennet
- Mother: Mrs. Bennet
- Miss Elizabeth Bennet - Before her marriage and being younger than Jane Bennet, she held this title until her marriage.
- Mrs Darcy - Elizabeth's title after her marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy.
- My Mistress - Elizabeth's title during her marriage to Darcy, while in Pemberley, being the Mistress of Pemberley.
- Cousin Elizabeth - When Mr. William Collins calls for Elizabeth.
- Eliza/Lizzy - By close family and friends.
- Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 1
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 21
- Volume II, Chapter 1
- Volume II, Chapter 5
- Volume II, Chapter 6
- Volume II, Chapter 7
- Volume II, Chapter 10
- Volume II, Chapter 11
- Volume II, Chapter 12
- Volume II, Chapter 13
- Volume II, Chapter 16
- Volume II, Chapter 18
- Volume II, Chapter 19
- Volume III, Chapter 1
- Volume III, Chapter 2
- Volume III, Chapter 4
- Volume III, Chapter 5
- Volume III, Chapter 6
- Volume III, Chapter 9
- Volume III, Chapter 8
- Volume III, Chapter 9
- Volume III, Chapter 10
- Volume III, Chapter 11
- Volume III, Chapter 12
- Volume III, Chapter 14
- Volume III, Chapter 16
- Volume III, Chapter 17
- Volume III,Chapter 18