Characterization in Pride and Prejudice
The rounded, realistic characters in Pride and Prejudice are like real people. They are three-dimensional and in spite of the sometimes melodramatic story of Pride and Prejudice the reader is never put out because the characters in those often absurd situations are real, and like real people, they frequently surprise us in the way they react.
Creating three-dimensional characters is Jane Austen’s greatest talent. Her characters are the result of her closely observing the society around her. She knew only a narrow social class and her novels are populated with people like those she encountered in her daily life – the landed gentry. Servants, labourers, and tradesmen hardly appear at all and when she goes beyond the gentry to characters bordering on the aristocracy she satirizes them, as she does with Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice.
Each character of a particular personality type is unique. Two snobbish, ridiculous clergymen – Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Mr Elton in Emma – are snobbish and ridiculous in entirely different ways: the vulgar and silly Mrs Bennet and the equally vulgar and silly Mrs Jennings in Sense and Sensibility are vulgar and silly in completely different ways. Jane Austen heroines are easily identified by the sense and intelligence that make them stand out from the other female characters but, here, again, they are entirely individual and different from each other, each one memorable in her own right. And Elizabeth Bennet, although a typical Jane Austen heroine, has become one of the most famous and beloved characters in English literature.
Here are the key characters in Pride and Prejudice
An intelligent young woman, she is the main protagonist and the point of view character in the novel. She is the second of the five daughters of the Bennets, a family at the lower end of the landed gentry community. She is well-read and musically talented. Quick-witted and sharp, she tends to be too outspoken for her own good.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is a gentleman at the top end of the gentry community. He is very wealthy and has impressive social connections: he is the nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He is somewhat superior in his manner although some of that is due to shyness. He is intelligent and honest and by the end of the novel his faults have been tempered by his love for Elizabeth.
The first of the Bennet daughters, and stunningly beautiful. She is easy of manner and very pleasant, never thinking ill of anyone. She and Mr Bingley fall instantly in love and end up marrying.
A gentleman of modest income with five daughters for whom he and Mrs Bennet have to find husbands. He approaches family matters with sarcasm and goads his wife with his cynical responses to everything. He makes himself a remote figure, hiding away in his library, and ultimately fails as a parent.
A foolish, empty-headed woman obsessed with seeing her daughters married. She is poorly educated and her behaviour is embarrassing.
Darcy’s best friend, the wealthy Mr Bingley is the opposite in nature of Darcy. He is easy-going and genial. He is unusually unconcerned about class differences. His love affair with Jane Bennet presents a perfect match between two uncomplicated people.
George Wickam is a handsome militia officer. He is a sexual predator and fortune hunter, using his good looks and charm to ensnare his victims.
The youngest Bennet sister, like her mother she is gossipy and empty-headed. She is immature and selfish. She becomes a victim of Wickham and runs off with him.
The heir to the Bennet’s estate, Pemberley. He is a pompous and idiotic clergyman, a patron of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He is snobbish and obsequious and completely ridiculous on every level.
Bingley’s sister. Caroline looks down on Elizabeth because of her lower social status. She vainly attempts to gain Darcy’s attention, which is so irksome to him that it drives him towards Elizabeth.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
A rich, bossy woman with aristocratic connections through marriage, she is Mr. Collins’s patron and Mr Darcy’s aunt. She is a prime example of a class snob.
Mr and Mrs Gardiner
Mrs. Bennet’s brother and his wife. They are commonsensical and caring, better parents to the Bennet girls than their own parents are.
Elizabeth’s best friend. She is sensible and pragmatic, choosing to accept Mr Collins’ proposal rather than end up with an unsettled life. For her, love is not the most important thing in marriage.
Mr Darcy’s sister. She is very pretty and shy like her brother. She is exceptionally musically talented.
The middle Bennet sister, she is a bookworm and very boring, offering obvious moralistic comments on everything.
The fourth Bennet daughter, ‘Kitty.’ She is silly, and is led by her younger sister. Like Lydia, she is obsessed by the young militia officers who are camped nearby.
That’s our Pride and Prejudice characters list. Make sense? Any questions? Let us know in the comments section below!