Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bring out what you think to be the most attractive traits of Elizabeth's character. Do you find anything disagreeable about her?

One of the Best-Loved Heroines in English Fiction
Elizabeth is one of the best-loved heroines in English fiction. She possesses several traits which appeal to us greatly. These traits are her liveliness of temper, her sense of humour and her wit, her mature thinking, the ripeness of her judgment, her attachment to her family and especially to her elder sister Jane, her self-confidence and boldness, her realization of her mistakes and her feeling of repentance about them. However, she is not a perfect woman. She has her weaknesses and her faults.

Her Wit and her Capacity to Laugh at Absurdities
Elizabeth has a healthy outlook on life. She is a lively girl with a keen sense of humour and with a capacity to make witty remarks. She has a strong tendency to laugh at the absurdities to people, and she is capable of making sarcastic remarks. She is quite a sprightly girl though she certainly has her serious moods and moods of reflection and even gloom. She is very good at conversation, and is not at all the type of the demure and dumb girl who has nothing to say at a party or a social meet. To take only two examples of her wit, she makes fun of Mr. Darcy early in the novel by saying that he suffers from no defects at all; and, much later in the novel, when her mother complains that the departure of Lydia from the house has made her sad, Elizabeth says that her mother should be happy at the thought that she still has four unmarried daughters at home with her. At the same time, it is to be noted that Elizabeth does not indulge in frivolous or flippant talk. She strongly disapproves of the kind of talk in which her two youngest sisters often indulge, and also of the kind of trivial and vulgar talk in which her mother indulges. She often feels embarrassed by the kind of remarks which her mother makes at social gatherings.
The Maturity of her Mind
Elizabeth shows the maturity of her mind when she urges her father not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton with Mrs. Forster. She tries to impress upon her father the unpleasant consequences which are likely to result from Lydia's stay in Brighton where she would be absolutely free to behave just as she likes. She describes Lydia as a vain, ignorant, and idle girl who is likely to go astray because of her exuberant spirits and the absence of any parental control. It is another matter that Mr. Bennet pays no heed to Elizabeth's advice. Subsequently, the news of Lydia's elopement with Mr. Wickham justifies Elizabeth's prediction about Lydia's conduct at Brighton. Elizabeth once again shows the maturity of her mind by telling her aunt Mrs. Gardiner that there is little possibility of Mr. Wickham actually marrying Lydia. In this context she says that Mr. Wickham has every charm of person and conversation to captivate a woman, and that he is likely to take undue advantage of Lydia who does not yet have enough experience of life to understand the workings of the mind of a man like Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth says that Lydia can fall an easy prey to Mr. Wickham's lust. This analysis by Elizabeth of the minds of Mr. Wickham and Lydia is perfectly sound.
Her Concern for her Family
Elizabeth is deeply attached to her family. She is aware of the faults of her mother and even more keenly aware of the faults of her two youngest sisters, Kitty and Lydia. In spite of that, she feels a deep concern for the welfare of the family. On receiving the news of Lydia's elopement, when Elizabeth is staying at Lambton in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, she feels most upset to think of the disgrace which the Bennet family would now have to face. She has now no peace of mind and, therefore, she rushes back home in order to give what comfort she can to her parents and to Jane who is also feeling deeply disturbed by Lydia's shameful behaviour.
Her Deep Attachment to Jane
Elizabeth's attachment to Jane is one of the most striking traits of her character. Sisters always love each other; but, in Elizabeth's love and affection for Jane, there is something exceptional and something extraordinary. Elizabeth feels constantly worried about Jane after Mr. Bingley has left Netherfield Park, probably never to return. From this point on wards, Elizabeth is constantly thinking of how to comfort and console Jane. While Jane keeps saying that she would get over her disappoint­ment, Elizabeth knows that inwardly Jane is feeling most dejected. Elizabeth's chief anxiety now is to bring good cheer into Jane's life. Such affection for a sister is really touching; and this is certainly one of Elizabeth's most attractive traits.
Her Self-Confidence and her Boldness
Her self-confidence and her boldness are some other attractive traits of Elizabeth's character. She never feels nervous or awed in the company of persons who are socially above her. For instance, when she has to stay at Neitherfield Park for a few days in order to attend upon Jane who has fallen ill there, she takes an active part in the conversations which take place there between Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Miss Bingley. She has the courage to differ with them when her view of a matter is different from theirs. When Mr. Bingley says that there are many girls who possess all the accomplishments, Elizabeth boldly says that she has never come across any girl who possesses all the accomplishments on a later occasion, she tells Mr. Darcy that he has a tendency to hate everybody; and she tells him her view without flinching. She remains perfectly cool and composed when she pays a visit to Rosings Park in the company of Sir William and Maria both of whom feels awed by the splendours of Lady Catherine's mansion. Nor does she feel unnerved by the insolent questions which Lady Catherine asks her. However, Elizabeth's self-confidence and self-assertion are exhibited in a most striking manner in the scene of her confrontation with Lady Catherine when the latter pays a visit to her at Longbourn. On this occasion Elizabeth is not in the least cowed by Lady Catherine's threats, and refuses firmly to give her the promise which Lady Catherine has demanded from her in an authoritative and bullying manner. Here Elizabeth surely rises to the stature of a true heroine.
No Self-Deception; No Cunning or Trickery about her
Elizabeth is an honest woman. She is honest with herself and with others. She is a woman of integrity. She does not believe in cunning or trickery. She is filled with self-reproach when she discovers the mistake she had made in judging Mr. Wickham's character. She had been deeply impressed by that man's outward charm and had almost fallen in love with him. She had taken his account of Mr. Darcy's past dealings with him on its face value, without having tried to seek any evidence to support his allegations against Mr. Darcy. But when the truth becomes known to her, she is filled with the deepest regret. She now admits to herself that, in believing Mr. Wickham, she had been "blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd". She says to herself: "How despicably have I acted! I, who have prided myself on my discernment!" Such a confession shows that Elizabeth has the courage to face the realities.
Her Occasional Moods of Cynicism
Even Elizabeth's occasional moods of cynicism lend her a certain charm. On one occasion, she tells her sister Jane that there are very few people whom she really loves and still fewer of whom she has a high opinion. She says that the more she observes the world, the more dissatisfied she feels with it. She then complains of the inconsistency of all human beings. This is a realistic appraisal of the world and of human nature, even though the example which she gives to illustrate her view is not quite convincing. (The example which she here gives is Charlotte's decision to marry Mr. Collins). Luckily she is not a confirmed cynic at all. Her admiration for Jane's goodness, as also the admiration which she begins to feel for Mr. Darcy in course of time, amply shows that.
Her Shortcomings
However, Elizabeth does suffer from certain shortcomings and faults. She is easily prejudiced, and her prejudices sometimes take deep roots in her mind. Such is the prejudice she harbours against Mr. Darcy, especially after Mr. Wickham has spoken to her about that man. In this particular case, Elizabeth betrays a strange lack of the power to judge human character. She is completely taken in by Mr. Wickham's deceptive looks and his plausible manner of talking. Even more glaring is her prejudice against Mr. Collins. There is no doubt that Mr. Collins is a fool and a clown; but Elizabeth goes so far in her criticism of his character as to become almost hostile to him. She uses very strong language to condemn and censure him; and she feels deeply offended with Charlotte for agreeing to marry him. She does not realize Charlotte's compulsions in taking this decision. Even after she has observed with her own eyes Charlotte's happiness in her married life, she does not relent in her bitterness against Mr. Collins, and her opinion of him does not undergo any change.

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