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Jane Austen: Characters

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet was a small-towner with limited horizon without longing to broaden her mind, all the time thinking only of material objects and fortune. The only concern in her life was to get her daughters married to wealthy men of good status. She kept on playing someone she was not.

Mr. Bennet was more sensible than Mrs. Bennet; he faced the provincialism of his superficial woman with irony and sarcasm. He liked Elizabeth most from his children - this speaks of the fact that he appreciated intelligence, charm and wit that Elizabeth possessed.

The relationship between them was rather cold, without affection:

Her father [Mr. Bennet] captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence, had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown.

To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed o his amusement. (pg. 265)
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news. (pg. 52)

Mr Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Wickham

He (Bingley) was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and to crown the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. (pg. 57)

Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance and easy, unaffected manners. Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien: and report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. (pg. 58)

´He (Mr. Bingley) is just what a young man ought to be´ said she (Mrs. Bennet), ´sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! - so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!´ (pg. 62)
Bingley has great natural modesty, with a stronger dependence on my (Darcy) judgement than on his own. (pg. 229)

Mr. Darcy is proud, in the sense that he feels superior to the prevailing prejudice and convention. That makes him arrogant in the eyes of the mainstream society. He often looked disagreeable, horrid and conceited, inconsiderate to other’s feelings. But there’s also the another side of him, as Mrs. Reynolds, the servant in his mansion said him to be the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted boy in the world, the best landlord that has ever lived. Mr. Darcy is not easy to love, as he is fastidious, haughty, and not conventional and has a bad reputation in the society (for his contempt and ridicule).

I do sympathise with him, because he is the one to pierce the crust of snobbism and stiffness of the ´higher´ society and therefore he deserves respect, not disdain for his incivilities against them. Bingley was liked for his easiness, openness, pleasant behaviour, optimistic opinions. He was more gentle and ´combed´ than his friend, though in a softer way, he also put his hand to the plough in getting rid of convention and prejudice by marrying Jane Bennet, a girl of humble origins and scarce resources.

Mr. Wickham was a man towards whom every female eye was turned. He was the most handsome officer, the most skilful speaker, possessing good figure and fine countenance. This is the controversy - that while Darcy was unpopular, he was in fact a very clever and fine man, Wickham, in spite of his being universally liked, he was a false, insincere sort of man, who lied about Mr. Darcy to show himself in a better light. In his gentleness affectation and disgust could be detected. His gallantry was frivolous and idle, and I find him unserious as he played with Lydia, Lizzy’s youngest sister.

Elizabeth and Jane Bennet

At first glance Jane and Elizabeth seem virtual sisters - sophisticated, prudent, and capable of irony. They are portrayed infinitely better as the remaining three siblings - charming, pretty and agreeable. However, there are fine differences between them. Jane is all sweetness, all faith and a bit gullible, sometimes, as she never sees anything bad in anybody. She seems to be happy with the traditional position of a woman in the society. Jane would willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole mankind. Elizabeth, on the other hand is more realistic about people, as can be seen from this extract, when she was with slight irony analyzing Darcy’s and her character:

´We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.´

They both loved their family, Jane was especially attached to the children - she loved herself to spend time with the little Gardiners. Jane was honestly blind; Elizabeth had more quickness and observation. I, personally feel that Elizabeth was somehow more courageous and active than Jane.

Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine de Burgh

Mr. Collins was the clergyman at Lady de Burgh’s property - Rosings. Mr. Collins didn´t have a very good upbringing and it was his fortunate chance that he got under the patronage of Lady de Burgh. He was a tall, heavy looking, 25 years old man. He felt a high respect for her and had a very good opinion of himself. His artificial gallantry and exaggerated civility was rather comical. He was an odd mixture of pride, self-importance and humility, but in principle he wasn´t a bad man.

Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features, which might once been handsome. Whatever she said was spoken in so authoritative a tone and in so decisive a manner that it was obvious that she was not used to have her judgement controverted. She had the ability to put things in order and silence the complaints of the cottagers. I think that she was also cordial and large-minded. She loved music.

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