Known affectionately as Lizzy, she is the second oldest of the Bennet sisters. It is through Lizzy's eyes that the majority of the story is told. Twenty years old and pretty, it is her personality that truly sets her apart from her sisters. Lizzy is intelligent and playful, unafraid to let her opinions be known, but simultaneously polite and well-mannered. She is usually the first to recognize the reality of a situation, and is able to understand people very well. Unlike her older sister Jane, she does not see the absolute best in everyone and every situation. She quietly notes the faults of both the ill-mannered and the proud, but does hold a little pride of her own. This quality shows most clearly when she is reluctant to believe that Darcy has never harmed Wickham, for admitting that she had been wrong is not easy for her to do.
At the beginning of the story, Elizabeth meets Bingley and Darcy at a ball, and is immediately turned off by the arrogant Darcy. She then meets and becomes attracted to Wickham, but is surprised to find out he and Darcy share an unclear and troubled past. Wickham insists Darcy is at fault, and she tends to believe him. After Darcy, Bingley, and his sisters leave Netherfield, Lizzy does her best to console Jane, and feels that Darcy and Bingley's sisters are at fault. She shuns the advances of her cousin, Mr. Collins, and is dismayed to see him marry her close friend, Charlotte Lucas. Later, while visiting Charlotte at her new home, Lizzy meets Collins' ill-mannered patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is joined by her nephews Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Fitzwilliam confirms that Darcy has set Bingley against Jane, and Lizzy is furious. She rudely refuses Darcy's marriage proposal, but he gives her a letter the next day, which starts to change her feelings about him. He admits to turning Bingley away from the improper Bennet family, but confesses his connection to Wickham, which reveals that he is innocent in the affair. Later, she vacations with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, and they come across Darcy's home. Thinking he is not there, they tour the large estate, but Darcy arrives and discovers them. He is friendly and completely changed, and even invites Lizzy to meet his sister. Their wonderful time together is cut short when Lizzy is sent word that her sister, Lydia, has run away with Wickham. The entire family is shamed until Mr. Gardiner sends word that he has located the couple and has forced them to get married. Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield, and begin visiting the Bennets. After Jane and Bingley become engaged, Lady Catherine visits Lizzy and warns her not to marry her nephew, Darcy. Lizzy insists that there are no such plans, but that she will do as she pleases. When Darcy returns, Lizzy thanks him profusely, as she has discovered that he is the man who actually found Wickham and Lydia, forced them to marry, and paid off their debts. Darcy confesses that he still loves Lizzy and they marry.
Jane, at 22, is the oldest Bennet sister. Very pretty, she is quiet, and tends to find the best in people. Lizzy notes that Jane often attributes too many good qualities to people, and fails to see their obvious shortcomings. Nevertheless, Jane continues to see the good in absolutely every person and every situation.
She meets Bingley at a ball, and is instantly attracted to him. They dance twice, and their connection becomes gossip fodder. Jane visits his sisters at Netherfield, but becomes sick and must stay for nearly a week while Lizzy tends to her. Her affections for Bingley, and his for her, only grow. Jane, however, does her best to hide her feelings. Once she is better, a ball is held at Netherfield, where Jane and Bingley spend the entire night dancing and talking. Everyone is assuming they will marry, but the thought is voiced by Sir William and Mrs. Bennet. The next day, Jane receives word that everyone at Netherfield has left and will never return. She is heartbroken. While news of Wickham and Darcy's past spreads, Jane is the only one to suggest that Darcy may not be entirely to blame. Her aunt takes her to London for three months, but she never sees Bingley there, and his sisters only call on her once, and are very rude. They tell Jane that Bingley is too busy to see her, and that he is almost certain to marry Darcy's little sister. Jane returns to Longbourn and attempts to hide her sadness. While Lizzy is away that summer with the Gardiners, Jane stays home and baby-sits the Gardiners' four children. She sends word to Lizzy when the Bennets find out that Lydia has run off with Wickham. She looks at the situation in the best possible light, and prays that her sister will marry Wickham and lessen the family's disgrace. She finally admits to Lizzy that she will eventually be able to forget about Bingley. Soon after, though, Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield, and Jane and Bingley resume their affection for each other. Eventually, he asks her to marry him. She is immensely happy, and very surprised by Lizzy's own announcement that she is to marry Darcy. They marry on the same day, and, a year later, Lizzy and Bingley buy an estate near the Darcys.
Wealthy, landed, and handsome, Darcy is a few years older than the Bennet sisters. He has always been taught to be proud of his status in life, and has become arrogant and proud. He sees family connections as of the greatest importance in finding a match, and does not hide the fact that he finds the Bennets inferior. After confronted about his arrogance, Darcy makes a big turnaround, and becomes friendlier and more agreeable. Eventually, he becomes the man that Lizzy Bennet feels she is best suited for.
A close friend of Bingley's, he travels with his friend to his new home at Netherfield, and attends a few local balls. His dashing good looks and immense wealth instantly make him gossip fodder. He is, however, arrogant and proud, and refuses to dance with anyone other than Bingley's sisters. He does find himself becoming more and more attracted to Elizabeth Bennet, however, despite her low family connections. He often stares at her, and finds it hard to hide his affection. When he overhears Sir William mention Bingley and Jane's wedding, he decides that such an event cannot happen. He does not believe Jane to be in love with Bingley, and despises her low ranking, embarrassing family. He convinces Bingley to remain in London and forget about Jane. When he visits his aunt, Lady Catherine, he spends more time with Lizzy and decides that he is in love with her. He asks for her hand in marriage, but is rudely refused. He is greatly angered, but gives Lizzy a letter stating his side of the situation. He says that the Bennet family is ill-mannered, but that he never meant to hurt Jane. He then details his relationship with Wickham, and reveals his innocence in the matter. That very day he leaves his aunt, and does not see Lizzy for a while. Several months later, he returns home to Pemberley and finds Lizzy and the Gardiners there. He has been greatly affected by Lizzy's words, and has changed his entire manner. He longs to endear himself to Lizzy, befriends her aunt and uncle, and introduces her to his sister. When he hears that Wickham has gone off with Lydia Bennet, he goes to London and finds them. He forces Wickham to marry the girl, and pays off his extensive debts. He then goes back to Netherfield with Bingley, hoping to assess Lizzy's feelings for him. He is called away to London for a few days, where his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has heard he is to marry Lizzy, confronts him. She recounts her fight with Lizzy, and bolstered by the revelation that Lizzy did not say she would never marry him, Darcy returns to Netherfield. He admits to Lizzy that he loves her, and they decide to marry. They move to Pemberley and are exceedingly happy.
Fairly wealthy, friendly, happy, and easily influenced, Bingley is a good friend of Mr. Darcy. He is, in many ways, similar to Jane, in that he sees the good in everyone and never suspects foul play. While his sisters are snobbish and love to ridicule others, Bingley is oblivious to their rudeness. He never makes fun of anyone, and rarely has anything bad to say at all. However, he is not the brightest person, and can easily be manipulated without knowing it.
Having recently rented an estate called Netherfield, Bingley arrives and attends the story's first ball. He dances twice with Jane Bennet, and begins an affection for her. His affection only grows as Jane stays at his home, and at the ball he throws, he dances only with her. The next day, he is called to business in London, but plans to return to Netherfield and Jane. His sisters and Darcy, however, try to tell him that her family is too low for him, but he is not swayed until they convince him that Jane does not love him. He never finds out that Jane is in town, and therefore does not see her until the next summer. Before then, however, he sees Lizzy at Pemberley, and hints that he wants to hear how Jane is doing. When he finally arrives back at Netherfield, he instantly calls on Jane and resumes his affection for her. Within a few days, he asks to marry her. He is very happy to find out that Darcy and Lizzy will also marry, and eventually buys an estate near his friends.
The mother of the Bennet girls, Mrs. Bennet is loud, obnoxious, and frequently in hysterics. As her husband is often absent, her sole focus is her daughters, particularly Lydia, her favorite. Mrs. Bennet longs to see her daughters married well, and is concerned that they find wealthy men before they get too old. She even becomes furious with Lizzy after the girl refuses to marry the odious Mr. Collins. She does not have very good manners, and openly shares all her thoughts in public, whether they should be aired or not. Her loud, embarrassing public behavior is one of the primary causes of Darcy's objection to the family.
Mrs. Bennet begs her husband to call on the recently arrived Bingley, plotting to marry him off to one of her daughters. She is pleased to see him dance with Jane at the ball, and insists that Jane go to Netherfield without a carriage, setting up the illness that keeps her daughter at Netherfield for a length of time. She openly talks of Jane's upcoming marriage at the Netherfield ball, and continuously plots to get them together. She is dismayed to find out that Bingley left Netherfield, and talks of him incessantly. She pushes Collins on Lizzy, and will hardly speak to her daughter when she refuses his proposal. When his engagement to Charlotte is made public, Mrs. Bennet is nearly hysterical. She lives in constant fear that her husband will die and she will be pushed from her home. She later allows Lydia to travel alone to Brighton, where she ends up getting entwined with Wickham and running off. After Lydia's disgrace, she refuses to leave her room for two weeks. When Lydia is finally married, Mrs. Bennet acts as if nothing were ever wrong, and Lydia resumes being her favorite. When Bingley returns to Netherfield, Mrs. Bennet does her best to get together with Jane, and is overjoyed when she is successful. She is even happier, however, when Lizzy announces her marriage, thinking only of how rich the family is going to be.
Smart, but uninvolved in his family's daily life, Mr. Bennet generally removes himself from the rest of the Bennets. Having lost all affection for his wife, and with a general distaste for the silliness of some of his daughters, he does hold a strong liking for Lizzy, his favorite. Rarely accompanying his family to social events, when things go wrong in the Bennet household, Mr. Bennet is likely to retire to his library.
Mr. Bennet finally acquiesces to the appeals of his wife, and secretly calls on Mr. Bingley. He listens to Mrs. Bennet's account of the ball, but has little to say. During the ball at Netherfield, he embarrasses the family when he publicly shames Mary by telling her to get off of the piano. The next day, he endears himself to Lizzy by declaring that if she marries Mr. Collins, he will never talk to her again. From then on, he does little other than hide in his library. When Lydia runs off, he goes to London to find her, and is later insulted when he hears how little Wickham is asking to marry her. He is convinced that Mr. Gardiner has paid off the man, and wonders how he will ever be able to repay the man. Later, when Lizzy announces her engagement to Darcy, Mr. Bennet thinks she is crazy, positive that neither party has affection for the other. Eventually, he believes his daughter, and is overjoyed when he finds out Darcy has paid Wickham's debts. He genuinely wishes his daughters well in their marriages, and misses Lizzy profusely when she moves to Pemberley.
Handsome and cunning, Mr. Wickham is able to convince everyone in Meryton that he is a wonderful, respectable man, wronged by Mr. Darcy but worthy of an excellent wife. He is charming and seems to be quite a gentleman; reality proves that he sly, lacks discipline, and seeks only fortune out of a wife. He leaves sizable debts everywhere he goes, and most of them end up being rectified by Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Wickham arrives in Meryton with the other militiamen. His good looks and charm instantly make him a favorite among the women, but he shows a liking for Elizabeth Bennet. He is startled to see Darcy in town, and the first time he gets the chance, he tells Lizzy of his history with the man. He says that his father had been a good friend of the senior Mr. Darcy's, and that Darcy's father had, in turn, loved the young Wickham. He promised to provide a place in the church for him, and to provide a salary for the man. Upon Mr. Darcy's death, however, his son had not followed his father's wishes. Jealous, he left Wickham penniless, and so Wickham had had to join the militia to ensure a living. Lizzy hears this and hates Darcy even more, but later finds out that Wickham's story is false. He had been a favorite of Darcy's father, but had no desire to enter the church, and decided on a sizable inheritance instead. After he had quickly spent the money, he asked Darcy for the place in the church that he had earlier refused. Darcy told him no, and they parted ways. A while later, though, Wickham had endeared himself to a fifteen-year-old Miss Darcy, and the two planned an elopement. When Darcy found out about it, he put a stop to it, wisely realizing that Wickham had only been out for revenge and his sister's fortune. While in Meryton, he moves from Lizzy to a wealthier woman, Miss King, but finally ends up with Lydia Bennet while in Brighton. Seeking to avoid his debts in Brighton, he runs off. He takes Lydia for companionship. When Darcy finds them in London, he orders Wickham to marry the girl, though the man has no intentions to do so. Eventually, Darcy agrees to pay off all the debts and provide the newlyweds with a living, so Wickham agrees. He and Lydia soon grow tired of each other, but are stuck in their marriage. The pair lives well beyond their means, and Lydia's two wealthy older sisters end up frequently bailing them out.
An odd and rather annoying man, Mr. Collins is the cousin of the Bennet family set to inherit the estate upon Mr. Bennet's death. Caught up in the trappings of rank, social order, and his relationship with his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Collins is prone to offer lengthy speeches that no one gives much care to. He compares everyone and everything to Lady Catherine or one of her possessions. Boorish and very hard to like, he is another embarrassment to the Bennet family.
Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn hoping to ask one of the Bennet sisters for her hand in marriage. Lady Catherine has told him it is time to get a wife, and he believes the Bennets are good choices, as he is set to inherit their estate anyway. He first decides on Jane, but is told she is already taken. His affections transfer to Lizzy, who refuses him. He tells Lizzy that it is unlikely she will be proposed to again. Finally, he settles on Charlotte Lucas, a friend and neighbor of the Bennets. Charlotte accepts, caring only to be settled down and married. The couple returns to the parsonage at Hunsford, and Mr. Collins is happy to note that his patroness approves of his wife. When Lizzy comes to visit, Mr. Collins is happy to be able to show off his home and his patroness, attempting to make Lizzy feel like she has missed out on something. Throughout the book, his priorities are making Lady Catherine happy, and making his connection to her known. He remains boorish, and condemns the Bennets for allowing Lydia back into the house after she has shamed them. To the end, he remains an embarrassment to his cousins.
Browse all book notes|
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 ,10, and 11
Chapters 12, 13, and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17, 18, and 19
Chapters 20, 21, and 22
Chapters 23, 24, and 25
Chapters 26, 27, and 28
Chapters 29, 30, and 31
Chapters 32, 33, and 34
Chapters 36, 37, and 38
Chapters 39 and 40
Chapters 41 and 42
Chapters 43 and 44
Chapters 45 and 46
Chapters 47 and 48
Chapters 49 and 50
Chapters 51 and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56 and 57
Chapters 58 and 59
Chapters 60 and 61