Elizabeth Bennet, Basic Character Information

Elizabeth Bennet is Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s second daughter in age and beauty, her father’s favorite child, and the story’s main protagonist.

Basic Information:

Age: 20 (in March), Elizabeth’s Hunsford visit begins in March and on its third day she tells Lady Catherine that she is “not one and twenty.”

Spouse: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (at end of novel)
Primary Residence: Longbourn (beginning of novel), Pemberley (following her marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy).

Physical Characteristics: There is plenty of debate over what our dear Elizabeth looks like exactly. We know that she is considered to be the second prettiest Bennet daughter and that her eyes are dark and fine with a “beautiful expression,” that her figure lacks perfect symmetry but is still light and pleasing (to Darcy), she is shorter than at least one of her sisters, tans in the summer, and that she is runs more frequently than her sister Jane. The only people who voice opinions that Elizabeth is not pretty are Darcy (in the beginning), Caroline Bingley (who states her sister agrees with her).

At Pemberley, Caroline Bingley, a biased source at best states that Elizabeth has grown “brown and coarse” since they last saw her and that “Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character; there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I never could perceive any thing extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether, there is a self-sufficiency without fashion which is intolerable.” Take all that as you will.

Personality Characteristics:
Elizabeth’s personality is the reason why so many people are attracted to her and love her. She is intelligent and witty, well-spoken, (apparently) well-read, and her manners are playful. She does possess a degree of impertinence, but the “mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner” makes it difficult for her to offend people (even those she really, really wants to offend). I could go on and on, but will assume that if you are reading this, you are probably well aware of Elizabeth Bennet’s personality.

What to call her:

  • Elizabeth – Jane Austen as narrator generally calls her Elizabeth, as does Darcy after they are engaged, presumably Georgiana will follow suit (I personally don’t picture the Darcys as being nickname type people).
  • Lizzy – Her close family, i.e. the Bennets and Gardiners, probably the Phillips as well. Charles Bingley refers to her as Lizzy after he becomes engaged to her sister Jane
  • Eliza – The Lucases, Caroline Bingley and presumably Mrs. Hurst. Personally I think it is interesting to note that the people who call her by the more fashionable nickname Eliza are social climbers. Sometimes these people also call her/refer to her as Miss Eliza Bennet.
  • Miss Bennet – Elizabeth is called this by some characters when her sister Jane is not present. If Jane had married before Elizabeth instead of having a double wedding, Elizabeth would have been the primary Miss Bennet between Jane’s wedding and her own.
  • Miss Elizabeth Bennet – When Jane is present Elizabeth is properly referred to as Miss Elizabeth Bennet – Persons who are not close enough to use her name or a nickname. Before their engagement, Darcy typically addresses her or refers to her as Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
  • Mrs. Darcy/Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy – After her marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth will primarily be either Mrs. Darcy or Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy to those whom she is not on a first name basis with. Her own given name would not generally be used with the title Mrs. and as the Darcys of Pemberley are most likely the most prominent and important Darcys around (possible exception being the great-uncle judge if he is still alive and named Darcy) it will usually be simply Mrs. Darcy.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. austenette

    I think that Elizabeth would never be called Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Even if Darcy’s uncle is still alive, as a judge he’d be styled “Lord”, so his wife would be “Lady”. Elizabeth would be the only Mrs. Darcy.

    After Elizabeth marries, people will likely stop calling her “Lizzy”. For a woman it was a sign of entering the adult world.

    I loved the observation you made that only social climbers call her Eliza. It never occurred to me but I think it’s spot on.

  2. Melissa Renee

    Good point on Darcy’s uncle.

    As for Lizzy v. Elizabeth after her marriage. I think some people will never stop and others might do a gradual change or use one or the other depending on the circumstances. For instance, I think that if every other person in the world stopped calling Elizabeth “Lizzy” Lydia would keep right on calling her “Lizzy” mostly because I have difficulty imagining Lydia calling her Elizabeth, it’s easier to imagine her referring to “my sister Mrs. Darcy.”

    I do think that no one she is introduced to following her marriage will ever call her Lizzy even if they make it to first name usage.

  3. austenette

    Oh, good point about Lydia! Yes, I think she’ll keep calling her Lizzy, vexing Darcy to no ends. She’s just ill-bred enough for that.

    Then there’s Mrs. Bennet at the other end, of whom Austen tells us that she kept talking of Mrs. Darcy, likely being too snobbish to not emphasise at every opportunity what a great match her daughter made.

    I also remembered that when Austen’s father announced her birth to someone he said that she was to be “Jenny”, but we never see Cassandra calling her this in letters. Likely it was used only when she was very little.

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