Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bring out the contrast between the characters of Elizabeth and Jane.

Contrast in Respect of Physical Appearance
Elizabeth and Jane are more deeply attached to each other than most sisters are; and yet they offer a sharp contrast so far as their temperaments and inclinations are concerned. To begin with, they offer a contrast so far as physical appearance is concerned.
Jane is a very pretty girl; she is not only the prettiest of the five daughters of the Bennet family but prettier than most of the girls living in the neighbourhood of Longbourn. Elizabeth has her own charm, but she is much less attractive physically than Jane. When Mr. Bingley is dancing with Jane, he interrupts his dancing to tell Mr. Darcy that his partner (namely Jane) is the handsomest girl at the gathering, whereupon Mr. Darcy tells him that the other girl (namely Elizabeth) is not so handsome as to tempt him to ask her for a dance. By ma king this disparaging remark about Elizabeth's looks, Mr. Darcy offends her greatly because she over­hears the remark. Later, it is true, Mr. Darcy discovers certain charms in Elizabeth's countenance, in her eyes, and in her figure; but his initial remark about her does indicate the difference between the two sisters so far as their physical attractions are concerned.
Simplicity Versus Complexity
Jane is a simple-minded girl while Elizabeth has a highly complex nature. Jane's reactions to people and to situations are those of a girl who does not try in the least to penetrate beneath the surface; Elizabeth, on the contrary, has a reflective nature and an analytical mind. Elizabeth's reflective nature is clearly indicated by the author because there are several passages in the novel in which the state of mind of Elizabeth is described to us. Elizabeth's reflective tendency is clearly to be seen in her thoughts after she has rejected Mr. Darcy's proposal of marriage, in her meditations over the letter which Mr. Darcy hands over to her on the following day, in her thoughts on receiving news of Lydia's elopement, and in her thoughts on learning about Mr. Darcy's role in bringing about Lydia's marriage with Mr. Wickham. Her analytical tendency is to be found in her constantly speculating upon the reasons preventing Mr. Bingley from making a proposal of marriage to Jane. This tendency is also seen in her describing to Mrs. Gardiner the nature of F Wickham and the character of Lydia, and inner pointing out to Mrs. Gardiner how easy it would be for Mr. Wickham to take undue advantage of Lydia. Jane has an entirely different disposition. She accepts things as they happen and tries to reconcile herself to them. Similarly, she does not make any effort to probe the minds of the people with whom she comes into contact. She takes them on their face value.
Self-Assertiveness and Dynamism Versus Passivity
Elizabeth is a very self-assertive girl; and she is quick to react to what people say and how they behave. She takes Mr. Darcy's initial disparaging remark about her to heart, and thereafter begins to harbour a grievance and a prejudice against him Subsequently, Mr. Darcy tries to humour and placate her, but she remains adamant; and, in fact, becomes further prejudiced against him because of Mr. Wickham’s allegations against him. When Mr. Darcy proposes marriage to her, she promptly rejects the proposal, and frankly states her reasons for doing so. She does not mince matters here but tells Mr. Darcy the grounds on which she has felt compelled to reject him. Elizabeth is also a dynamic person who takes initiatives. For instance, when Lydia gets ready to go to Brighton with Mrs. Forster, Elizabeth urges her father to stop Lydia from taking this step, and she tells her father of the perils to which Lydia would be exposed during her stay in that city. It is another matter that her father does not take any action to comply with Elizabeth's advice. Jane, on the contrary, is entirely a passive girl who makes no attempt at any time to give a new direction to events. At Rosings Park, Elizabeth remains calm and composed in the face of the various disparaging remarks which Lady Catherine makes about and her family, and also in the face of the several insolent questions which Lady Catherine asks her. Elizabeth retains her presence of mind in the presence of that grand Lady, and is not unnerved. Jane in Elizabeth's position could certainly not have faced the situation with the same calmness.
Elizabeth's Fastidiousness Versus Jane's Sweetness and Angelic Nature
Elizabeth is a rather fastidious girl who discriminates between one man and another, and between one woman and another woman. She quickly perceives the difference between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. She quickly understands the character and nature of Mr. Collins whose proposal of marriage she rejects without the least hesitation. At one point Elizabeth tells Jane that she likes few people and that she thinks well of even fewer people. She says that she is fed up with the inconsistencies in human beings. Jane, on the contrary, forms a good opinion about everybody till she is given some evidence to the contrary. Jane is most undiscriminating in this respect. Elizabeth, for instance, points out early in the novel that Jane begins to like everybody she meets and that she likes even stupid persons. Elizabeth further says that Jane has a tendency to like people in general. She says to Jane: "You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life." Later in the novel, Elizabeth says: "My dear Jane, you are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestedness are really angelic." Still later in the novel, Elizabeth refers to Jane as a person having the most affectionate and generous heart in the world. According to Elizabeth, Jane is all loveliness and goodness. Elizabeth thinks that Jane has captivating manners. Now, Elizabeth can certainly not be described in these glowing terms which Elizabeth uses about Jane, though Elizabeth is lovable in her own way.
Elizabeth's Sarcastic Wit Versus Jane's Inoffensive Talk
Elizabeth has a sarcastic wit and she often makes use of it in the course of conversation. She has a capacity to laugh at people's absurdities, as she herself tells Mr. Darcy early in the story. Later we are told that Elizabeth had laughed at Sir William's absurdities so often that he had ceased to be a source of amusement to her. Elizabeth can retaliate when Miss Bingley says something unpleasant to her. Jane, on the contrary, can never mock at or ridicule anybody. Nor can she laugh, even stealthily, at people's absurdities. For instance, she has failed to notice the absurdi­ties of Mr. Collins. Jane is, in fact, perfectly inoffensive in her talk, and would not like to injure anybody's feelings. Elizabeth describes Mr. Collins as a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, and silly man. And Elizabeth further says that Charlotte has proved to be an irrational girl by having agreed to marry Mr. Collins. Jane thereupon says that Elizabeth has used too strong a language in speaking about Mr. Collins and about Charlotte. Here we see clearly the difference between Elizabeth's outlook and Jane's.
Different Attitudes towards Offending Persons
Jane is a silent sufferer during the period in which Mr. Bingley remains alienated from her. Of course, she shows rare fortitude in enduring her disappoint­ment in love. And yet she does not blame Mr. Bingley's sisters for their negative role in the whole affair. Elizabeth tells her that Mr. Bingley's indifference to her is due chiefly to the bad influence upon him of his two sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. But Jane does not accept this view. She is inclined to give Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst the benefit of the doubt.
Elizabeth's Statement about the Contrast
Towards the end of the novel, Elizabeth herself highlights the contrast between Jane and herself. Jane has expressed her wish that Elizabeth should also get the kind of husband she (Jane) is going to get, whereupon Elizabeth replies that she could never be happy even if she were to get forty husbands of the kind Jane is going to get because she does not have Jane's disposition. She states her view thus: "Till I have your disposition and your goodness, I never can have your happiness." However, soon afterwards Elizabeth also gets a husband who is sure to make her as happy as Jane is going to be with Mr. Bingley.

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