Elizabeth Bennet

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Elizabeth Bennet
Elizabeth Bennet, a fictional character appearing in the novel Pride and Prejudice, depicted by C. E. Brock
Elizabeth Bennet, a fictional character appearing in the novel Pride and Prejudice, depicted by C. E. Brock
Full name Mrs Elizabeth Darcy, formerly Elizabeth Bennet
Gender Female
Age 20
Income £50 per annum (Interest on £1,000 from her mother's fortune by settlement upon her death.)
Primary residence Longbourn, near Meryton, Hertfordshire
Family
Spouse Fitzwilliam Darcy
Romantic interest(s) Mr. William Collins
Lt. George Wickham
Col. Fitzwilliam
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Parents Mr. and Mrs. Bennet
Sibling(s) Jane Bennet
Mary Bennet
Catherine "Kitty" Bennet
Lydia Bennet
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy by Hugh Thomson, 1894

Elizabeth Darcy (née Elizabeth Bennet) is the protagonist in the 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She is often referred to as Eliza or Lizzy by her friends and family. Elizabeth has been portrayed by Greer Garson in the 1940 film adaptation of the novel, by Elizabeth Garvie in the 1980 BBC mini-series, by Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 television series, by Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation, and by Ashley Clements in the online modernized YouTube adaption.[1]

Elizabeth is the second child in a family of five daughters. Though the circumstances of the time and environment require her to seek a marriage of convenience for economic security, Elizabeth wishes to marry for love.

Elizabeth is regarded as the most admirable and endearing of Austen's heroines.[2] She is considered one of the most beloved characters in British literature[3] because of her complexity. Austen herself described Lizzy as "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print."[4]

Background[edit]

Elizabeth is the second eldest of the five Bennet sisters of the Longbourn estate, situated near the fictional market village of Meryton in Hertfordshire, England. She is 20 years old at the beginning of the novel.[5] Elizabeth is described as an intelligent young woman, with "a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous". She often presents a playful good-natured impertinence that does not offend. Early in the novel she is depicted as being personally proud of her wit and her accuracy in judging the social behaviour and intentions of others.

Her father is a landowner, but his daughters cannot inherit because the estate is entailed upon the male line. Upon his death, Longbourn will therefore be inherited by his cousin and nearest male relation, Mr. William Collins, a clergyman. This future provides the cause of Mrs. Bennet's eagerness to have her daughters married off to wealthy men.

Elizabeth is her father's favourite, described by him as having "something more of quickness than her sisters". In contrast, she is the least dear to her mother, especially after Elizabeth refuses a marriage proposal from Mr. Collins. Elizabeth is also often upset and embarrassed by the impropriety and silliness of her mother and three younger sisters.

Within her neighbourhood Elizabeth is considered a beauty and a charming young woman with "fine eyes", to which Mr. Darcy is first drawn. Darcy is later attracted more particularly to her "light and pleasing" figure, the "easy playfulness" of her manners, her mind and personality, and eventually considers her "one of the handsomest women" in his acquaintance.

The second daughter in the Bennet family, and the most intelligent and quick-witted, Elizabeth is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice and one of the most well-known female characters in English literature. Her admirable qualities are numerous—she is lovely, clever, and, in a novel defined by dialogue, she converses as brilliantly as anyone. Her honesty, virtue, and lively wit enable her to rise above the nonsense and bad behavior that pervade her class-bound and often spiteful society. Nevertheless, her sharp tongue and tendency to make hasty judgments often lead her astray; Pride and Prejudice is essentially the story of how she (and her true love, Darcy) overcome all obstacles—including their own personal failings—to find romantic happiness. Elizabeth must not only cope with a hopeless mother, a distant father, two badly behaved younger siblings, and several snobbish, antagonizing females, she must also overcome her own mistaken impressions of Darcy, which initially lead her to reject his proposals of marriage. Her charms are sufficient to keep him interested, fortunately, while she navigates familial and social turmoil. As she gradually comes to recognize the nobility of Darcy’s character, she realizes the error of her initial prejudice against him.

In popular culture[edit]

Elizabeth Bennet has become one of the most famous heroines in the history of English literature, known for her intelligence and independent thinking from the expected ambitions of her society. These qualities and her timeless romance with the proud Mr. Darcy have carried over into various theatrical retellings. Helen Fielding's novel Bridget Jones's Diary, as well as the film series of the same name, is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, with Elizabeth as Renée Zellweger's title character. In Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood adaptation, Bride and Prejudice, Aishwarya Rai plays the Elizabeth character, Lalita Bakshi. In the 2008 television film Lost in Austen, actress Gemma Arterton plays a version of Lizzy who switches places with a modern-day young woman. Emma Stone is currently rumored to star as the zombie-slaying Elizabeth Bennet in the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a popular novel by Seth Grahame-Smith.[6]

The character has most recently been used in 'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries', a project which is partly headed by YouTube vlogger Hank Green, and depicts Elizabeth (played by Ashley Clements) as a modern-day woman in America posting video blogs about her life along with her friend 'Charlotte Lu' a character based on Charlotte Lucas.

Depictions in film and television[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Actress Role Film Notes
1940 Greer Garson Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
2001 Renée Zellweger Bridget Jones Bridget Jones's Diary Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture
2003 Kam Heskin Elizabeth Bennet Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy A Modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
2004 Aishwarya Rai Lalita Bakshi Bride and Prejudice A Bollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Renée Zellweger Bridget Jones Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason An adaptation of the novel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding and a sequel to the film Bridget Jones's Diary.
2005 Keira Knightley Elizabeth Bennet Pride & Prejudice Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actress of the Year
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress

Television[edit]

Year Actress Role Television program Notes
1938 Curigwen Lewis Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
1949 Madge Evans Elizabeth Bennet The Philco Television Playhouse Season 1, Episode 17 - Pride and Prejudice
1952 Daphne Slater Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
1957 Virna Lisi Elisabeth Bennet Orgoglio e pregiudizio An adaptation in Italian.
1958 Jane Downs Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
Kay Hawtrey Elizabeth Bennet General Motors Theatre Episode - Pride and Prejudice (Originally aired on 21 December).
1961 Lies Franken Elizabeth Bennet De vier dochters Bennet An adaptation in Dutch.
1967 Celia Bannerman Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
1980 Elizabeth Garvie Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice
1995 Jennifer Ehle Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice Won - British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
Dee Hannigan Elizabeth Bennet Wishbone Season 1, Episode 25 - Furst Impressions
1997 Julia Lloyd Elizabeth Bennet Red Dwarf Season 7, Episode 6 - Beyond a Joke
2001 Lauren Tom Elizabeth Bennet Futurama Season 3, Episode 10 - The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
2008 Gemma Arterton Elizabeth Bennet Lost in Austen A Fantasy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which a modern woman trades places with Elizabeth Bennet.
2012-2013 Ashley Clements Lizzie Bennet The Lizzie Bennet Diaries A modern adaptation where the main character Lizzie tells the story of Pride and Prejudice through video blog format.
2013 Anna Maxwell Martin Elizabeth Darcy/Mrs Darcy Death Comes to Pemberley Novel adaptation by P.D. James about events after Pride and Prejudice.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.lizziebennet.com/
  2. ^ William Dean Howells 2009, p. 48
  3. ^ "SparkNotes: Pride and Prejudice: Analysis of Major Characters". sparknotes.com. Retrieved 19 September 2010. [unreliable source?]
  4. ^ Wright, Andrew H. "Elizabeth Bennet." Elizabeth Bennet (introduction by Harold Bloom). Broomall: Chelsea House Publishers , 2004. 37-38 . Google Book Search. Web. 22 October 2011.
  5. ^ Pride and Prejudice. Chapter 29.
  6. ^ Variety article "Emma Stone offered 'Zombies' lead"

Bibliography[edit]