It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a classic novel in possession of a much-loved heroine, must be in want of personality typing.
Ah, Pride and Prejudice. Many of us read it to satisfy a course requirement, only to fall in love with the insight and sly humor that Jane Austen brings to her tale of courtship and social mores. (Well, some of us also fell in love with the proud, enigmatic Mr. Darcy, but that’s another story.)
Written in the early 19th century, the novel centers on Elizabeth Bennet, a spirited twenty-year-old with strong ideals. Elizabeth is among the best-loved characters in literature because her personality – independent, principled, warm-hearted, and funny – leaps off the page.
Here at 16Personalities, we love to analyze the personality types of fictional characters. But this week, we’re turning the tables and asking you: What personality type do you think fits Elizabeth Bennet?
To help you with this mission, here are some of Elizabeth’s key traits.
A Mind of Her Own
Even though she lives in a society that views a woman’s marriageability as her chief merit, Elizabeth isn’t desperate to become a wife. Resolved to stay true to herself, she plans to marry for love – or not at all – rather than accept a husband based on his wealth. This puts her out of step with the status quo – not to mention with her pushy, status-conscious mother.
When the eminently eligible (but insufferable) Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, she immediately turns him down. “You could not make me happy,” Elizabeth says, “and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so.”
This sends her mother into quite a tizzy, and she warns Elizabeth, “But I tell you, Miss Lizzy – if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all.” Principled as ever, Elizabeth stays steadfast in her refusal.
Elizabeth’s feelings and principles guide her rather than reason or convention, and she isn’t afraid to appear a bit unladylike – particularly when it comes to helping those she loves. For example, when her sister falls ill, Elizabeth tramps through the muddy countryside to attend to her.
This earns Elizabeth the derision of other ladies, who make fun of her muddy petticoat and her “untidy,” “blowsy” hair. Trying to put down Elizabeth in front of some men, one of the ladies says, “To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence.”
Despite her confidence, Elizabeth is far from conceited. But this lady is correct in one respect: Elizabeth’s independent spirit is exactly why she holds a place in the hearts of so many 21st-century readers.
Like anyone, Elizabeth has her weaknesses. In particular, she forms impressions of people quickly, and she’s slow to change these opinions. This is why she finds it so difficult to warm up to the seemingly aloof Mr. Darcy, who initially snubs her by refusing to ask her to dance.
At a later event, Mr. Darcy does ask Elizabeth to dance. She accepts but immediately regrets her decision. One friend tries to reassure her that speaking with Mr. Darcy might be agreeable after all. “Heaven forbid!” Elizabeth exclaims. “That would be the greatest misfortune of all! – To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! – Do not wish me such an evil.” Even though it’s tongue-in-cheek, this line of dialogue shows us how stubbornly Elizabeth clings to her negative opinion of Darcy.
By contrast, the charming, smooth-talking Mr. Wickham takes Elizabeth’s fancy. When Wickham tells an awful story that reflects badly on Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth is quick to believe him. Elizabeth’s sister Jane tries to give Darcy the benefit of the doubt, saying, “One does not know what to think.” Elizabeth, however, is adamant: “I beg your pardon; one knows exactly what to think.”
It’s not until much later that Elizabeth discovers her mistake: Wickham has lied to her, and Darcy is generous, principled, and loyal. In light of this, Elizabeth learns the importance of questioning her assumptions and keeping an open mind.
You Tell Us!
So, readers, does this sound like anyone you know? What personality type do you think fits Elizabeth Bennet best?
We’ll reveal our answer – and share some of your insights – next week.
(You can now find the follow-up article here.)
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