Elizabeth Bennet's Personality Transformation in Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'

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Austen’s quote from Persuasion overtly and skilfully encompasses and defends the idea of how women are capable of self-correcting themselves, being perfectly flawed yet finding the strength in learning from their mistakes, achieving personal growth. In her novels she does not make the central heroine to be perfect, rather highlights their flaws and how they overcome it leading to personal growth. She alluds to how the heroines are capable of realising their mistake and correcting it and making decisions for themselves. It implies how the heroines are transparent about their flaws yet are built with a strong sense of moral conscience and virtue which guides them to acknowledge their shortcomings to become better. The development of the heroine by becoming self-aware and inward enlightenment revolving around being a woman, interpersonal relationships and society would constitute the core of my essay.

Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most famous heroines from Jane Austen’s novels. Her smart, quick-witted and lively character made her the central attraction in Pride and Prejudice. She often adopts independent perspective and makes self-decisions while traversing through familial and social turmoil, most of the time, breaking the reader’s expectation as well as the social constrains. Her capacity of irony is what primarily makes her the important character, the heroine. This ability allows her to make judgement yet not completely unveil her true intentions behind her remarks in situations. Her mistaken judgement of Darcy and Wickham, coming to terms with it later, realising her harsh and impulsive judgement was indeed wrong, leads her astray. She confronts and her overcomes her prejudices by building on her strong moral conscience and self-sufficiency. Her initial flawed characteristic of making judgements based on appearance rather than reality is what led her to expect an emotional relationship with Wickham because of his looks and charms and is what led her to have a disliking towards Darcy “without any reason” (Austen, 280). Elizabeth continues, for a span of twenty chapters to take Wickham’s side in spite of continuous warning and advises given by Mrs. Gardner and Jane. Ironically, Elizabeth dismisses them claiming they are prejudiced towards Wickham when in reality it was actually her who was. She goes, even to an extent, to reject Darcy’s proposal by ironically criticising him and the whole idea of marriage “no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was” (Austen, 384) however uses the very same technique towards the end to praise Darcy in being superior to Willoughby “Oh, no! . . . In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was” (Austen, 291).

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The point of epiphany in the narrative is Darcy’s letter which Elizabeth decides to read with an open and rational mind. This allowed her to see Wickham’s inconsistencies and lack of goodness which was blatant all the while which she was oblivious to, making her realise how “blind, partial and prejudiced” (Austen, 259) she was. “I could easily forgive HIS pride, if he had not mortified MINE” (Austen, 23). She readily accepted Wickham’s false statements regarding Darcy which further propelled Elizabeth to create reasons to provoke Darcy and dislike him. Consequently Wickham was deliberately feeding Elizbeth’s inflamed pride and cynical wit. In doing so, she failed to comprehend Darcy was in fact the right man to provide her with social advancement and emotional fulfilment. Following the epiphanic letter, Elizabeth undergoes a psychological process of private condemnation and self-reflection in transforming herself into the righteous heroine, which ultimately aids her in marrying Darcy. Elizabeth’s acceptance of her mistake and sense of regret is what propelled her to become self-aware of her deficiency and work toward rectifying her mistakes. She re-evaluates her stance and judgements which is explicit as she makes this statement “How despicably I have acted. ….. Till this moment I never knew myself” (Austen, 259). Elizabeth visiting Pemberley, her last pre-conceived notions of prejudice against Darcy is removed, the housekeeper’s praise of her master, the admirable state of the estate and gentleman mannerism of Darcy in treating her. Elizabeth was ashamed of her previous reckless attitude towards Darcy and was grateful towards him for still loving her the same and being able to forgive into accepting her. Her self-awareness in correcting herself not just led her into a personal growth, but also made her achieve the mind to pay attention to others’ perceptive and gain courage in standing up for her convictions. This is what led her to overcome the trifling social barrier between Elizabeth and Darcy.

The novel set in a time and place where marriages were done for political and social gains than emotional attachment, Elizabeth’s transformation played a vital role in her being able to gather courage to confront domineering personalities of higher status in social circles. The interview by Lady Catherine provided as an opportunity for Elizabeth to reinstate her standing about her marriage to Darcy in spite of her sister’s elopement. She stood by her conviction that marriages does not always have to be a business deal or a method to keep up social status, rather could be out of pure feelings for one another. This act is blatant in showing the successful transformation of the heroine in not just becoming self-aware and rectifying her flaws, but also becoming a persona that impels larger changes within the narrative.

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Elizabeth Bennet’s Personality Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/elizabeth-bennets-personality-transformation-in-jane-austens-pride-and-prejudice/
“Elizabeth Bennet’s Personality Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/elizabeth-bennets-personality-transformation-in-jane-austens-pride-and-prejudice/
Elizabeth Bennet’s Personality Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/elizabeth-bennets-personality-transformation-in-jane-austens-pride-and-prejudice/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Elizabeth Bennet’s Personality Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/elizabeth-bennets-personality-transformation-in-jane-austens-pride-and-prejudice/

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