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Literature / Pride and Prejudice

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"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

The second novel by Jane Austen — a Take That! at Love at First Sight.

Possessing one of the best-known opening lines of all time, the story is a sharp, witty, insightful and tremendously funny romance, both mindful and mocking of sexual politics as they relate to social mores. Elizabeth Bennet is the second of the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Bennet, upper-middle-class gentry who live in Longbourn, a small estate in rural England at the time of The Napoleonic Wars. Her father is a cynical, snarky recluse, her mother is a fatuous, rather ill-bred airhead obsessed with her daughters' futures and her elder sister Jane is a sweet-natured beauty. Her younger sisters, by contrast, are uniformly "silly": pretentious, grumpy Mary; giggly, easily-led Kitty; and uncontrollable, foolish Lydia.

The story follows the Bennets and their attempts to marry for love, despite being in a position from which this was severely impractical. While Jane quickly falls for the well-off, good-natured newcomer Mr Bingley, Elizabeth is entirely too cynical to attract as sweet a man. Her nature does, however, attract a variety of other suitors: the well-connected but unctuous vicar Mr Collins, a man without any sense of humour lost in the novel's World of Snark; the dashing, penniless and self-deprecating foot soldier Mr Wickham; and Bingley's friend, Mr Darcy, who to all appearances is a cold-blooded and arrogant bore. Meanwhile, Lydia causes trouble for everyone, and Elizabeth and Darcy learn a lesson or two about first impressions and making assumptions.


It has been adapted into several theatre plays, movies and TV series; the 1940 adaptation stars Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, the 1995 BBC serial will forever see generations of women swoon over Colin Firth as the most romantic man alive whether he particularly wants them to or not, and the 2005 movie saw Keira Knightley star as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. In 2009, Marvel Illustrated produced a Comic-Book Adaptation, script by Nancy Butler, pencils by Hugo Petrus and covers by Sonny Liew. The Musical First Impressions is a 1959 Broadway flop starring Farley Granger as Darcy.

As a famous public domain novel, it was subjected to nerd-ification in 2009 with the publishing of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Many modern writers have picked up where Austen left off, trying their hand at publishing continuation stories about Darcy and Elizabeth as well as some of the minor characters; one notable example is the 2011 unofficial sequel Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. In 2013, Jo Baker wrote a version of the story from the perspective of the servants, Longbourn.


In terms of modern adaptations, there's always the Bridget Jones franchise, which takes on this, and then Austen's Persuasion for its sequel. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modernised adaptation (headed in part by Hank Green of the VlogBrothers fame. It began airing on YouTube in early 2012 in the form of a video blog. In this version there are three Bennet sisters (Jane, Lizzie and Lydia) and Charlotte's role is greatly expanded. In 2018, Ibi Zoboi wrote Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix which focuses on two teenagers in Bushwick, Brooklyn and tackles issues like gentrification and racial prejudice. Oh, and there's Matches and Matrimony, a Dating Sim.

By the way, the title refers to the two qualities that keep Darcy and Elizabeth from getting together. "Pride" is usually associated with Darcy (his initial snobbery toward those considered beneath him in social rank) and "prejudice" with Elizabeth (her judgements of Darcy and Wickham based solely on first impressions and hearsay, without really knowing either of them); however, they each display both qualities.

It is a trope universally acknowledged:

  • Adults Are Useless: There's a curious balance when it comes to the Bennet parents:
    • On one hand, Mrs Bennet doesn't have a subtle bone in her body and suffers from a dire lack of common sense, unintentionally damages Jane's marital prospects at least twice thanks to her lack of propriety, takes to her bed when things go wrong, constantly re-imagines past events to paint herself in a better light, spoils Lydia intensely and then continues to fawn over her and Wickham after the two of them nearly plunge the family into ruin. Mr Bennet is far more calm and sensible, puncturing holes in his wife's ego, preventing Elizabeth from made to marry Mr Collins, and pointing out the flaws in Wickham's story, getting the measure of him much sooner than anyone else in Meryton.
    • However, if you look closer, Mr Bennet is really just as bad as his wife. While her motives are admittedly partly out of self-interest, at least she's trying to make sure their daughters are provided for and that the man who'll be inheriting Longbourn is charitably disposed towards them, however much she dislikes him. Mr Bennet, by contrast, doesn't seem to be all that concerned about the future of his children, or inclined to take any steps to improve their prospects, such as making nice with Mr Collins' father or attempting to be sociable to his neighbours. Back in the early days of his marriage Mr Bennet arrogantly assumed he'd naturally father a son to take over the estate, and didn't bother saving in case the desired male heir didn't come along...meaning his five daughters are left with pretty pathetic dowries. Finally, while Mrs Bennet either indulges or ignores her younger daughters, their father doesn't ever seem to pay much attention to/discipline them either — even by the standards of the time — with disastrous consequences. When Lydia elopes with Wickham, Mr Bennet even admits how foolishly he behaved to Elizabeth, saying he wishes he could have taken better care of them all.
    • Funnily enough, the Bennet relatives - Mr and Mrs Gardiner - are probably the Only Sane Adults in the entire novel.
  • Affably Evil: Wickham is terribly charming, even after everyone knows what a scumbag he is.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Mrs Bennet, so very much. Her unsubtle attempts to set her daughters up with prospective husbands - especially in the case of Jane and Mr Bingley, acting as if they are already engaged after they've just met - is mortifying to her two older daughters. The younger ones are just as embarrassing as her, and Mr Bennet will make things even worse by openly mocking and ridiculing his wife and daughters in front of everyone. The consequences of this behaviour are more serious than usual because the family's antics are the biggest reason why Darcy persuades Mr Bingley not to marry Jane.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Darcy's might be the most famous of all. The fact that he is anguished because Elizabeth is in a worldly sense not good enough for him puts a damper on the romance, though.
  • Arch-Enemy: Wickham for Darcy
  • Attention Whore: Mary and Lydia, each in her own way.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Fitzwilliam Darcy
  • Babies Ever After: In the letter where Mr Collins warns Mr Bennet that Lady Catherine disapproves of Elizabeth marrying Darcy, he mentions that Charlotte is "expecting an olive branch," a reference to Psalm 128 v.4 (Book of Common Prayer version) 'Thy children like the olive-branches round about thy table'.
    • Or rather than a common euphemism, it's probably one jokingly invented by Mr Bennett in reference to Mr Collins' first letter, wherein he begs them not to reject his proffered olive branch.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Elizabeth didn't start to fall in love with Darcy until after she had already rejected his marriage proposal, soon after which they had parted on bad terms.
  • Beta Couple: Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley, to the readers. To the characters within the story, it's Lizzy and Darcy. Played with, in fact, in a way strongly reminiscent of Much Ado About Nothing, with Jane/Bingley resembling Claudio/Hero (fall in love quickly, sweet and modest, driven apart and together again by forces beyond their control or understanding) and Elizabeth/Darcy resembling Beatrice/Benedick (mentors to nominal alpha couple, initially dislike each other but grow to love each other, more control over their fates).
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Elizabeth with George Wickham and Fitzwilliam Darcy. To appearances, the gentlemen are the charming impoverished gentleman versus the Idle Rich Jerkass with No Social Skills. In reality, they are the Manipulative Bastard Gold Digger versus the Jerk with a Heart of Gold Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Darcy is very protective of his little sister Georgiana.
  • Big Brother Worship: Georgiana more or less thinks her brother is flawless.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Rosings, of the admirable chimneys. When Elizabeth visits she actually finds the place to be rather tacky—Lady Catherine chooses her interior decorating based on how much it shows off her wealth regardless to aesthetic.
    • Pemberley, Darcy's home, is suitably impressive. Unlike his aunt's house, it's decorated quite elegantly but without overtly flaunting the money that went into it.
    • Netherfield Park. It's big and fancy enough to be suitable for young gentlemen of five thousand a year.
  • Big Little Sister: Lydia boasts that "though I am the youngest, I'm the tallest," and the narrator describes her as "a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen."
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • The marriages of all three of the Bennet sisters work like this; a running Jane Austen theme is that love is a combination of esteem, friendship and like-mindedness. (Although in the case of Lydia, they have the like-mindedness but not necessarily the mutual esteem or friendship, as it's clear that she is much more into Wickham than he is into her, and the ending implies that what affection they do have for each other turns into indifference before long.)
    • Discussed Trope for Charlotte and Mr Collins. Mr Collins comments to Elizabeth that he and Charlotte "are of but one mind and one way of thinking. We seem to have been designed for each other". Charlotte lets Mr Collins keep thinking that.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wickham is a male version.
  • Blue Blood: The de Bourghs. Though all of the important characters are from land-owning families and thus considered "gentry," only one is titled. Sir William's title is not of the hereditary sort, so of the cast only Lady Catherine is an actual aristocrat. (Her father was an earl, and her brother - Colonel Fitzwilliam's father - now holds the title.)
  • Bookworm: Mr Bennet regards reading as one of his principal enjoyments, and enjoys sharing it with his daughter Elizabeth. Mary also reads voraciously.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: All three of the younger daughters, in different ways...
    • Lydia. She's selfish, completely self-involved, materialistic and cares absolutely nothing about the people who are hurt because of her, the trouble she causes for her family or the consequences of her stupid actions. What's worse is that she won't even acknowledge that her actions were stupid or had damaging effects, and she's helped along in this by Mrs Bennet who has a similar personality type.
    • Mary. She is one because of her pompous moralising and general self-involved attitude; she works too hard for accomplishments and praise because she's the least attractive of the five girls, and receives less attention than her prettier sisters. The ending shows her improvement, though; she becomes her mother's companion once her sisters are married off, so she's forced to socialise. Moreover, without her sisters as comparisons, she's no longer reduced to "the plain daughter", which makes her feel better about herself.
    • Kitty tends to follow in Lydia's footsteps and as such is a milder version of her. She is also implied, through various comments by other characters, to be of a weak physical constitution (Jane calls her "slight and delicate") which may account for her subjugation by the much stronger-spirited Lydia. Like Mary, she improves at the end of the book, and in fact improves dramatically. She spends most of her time with either Jane or Elizabeth, and without Lydia there to reinforce her old habits, she becomes better educated and more refined. It's also noted that although Lydia keeps trying to invite her to come and visit, their father refuses to allow it.
  • Break the Haughty: Darcy, obviously. In one spectacular confrontation scene, Elizabeth does this to Lady Catherine as well. Although not overly haughty, Elizabeth's not immune; her own pride (specifically, in her ability to instantly judge someone based on first impressions - the prejudice of the novel's title) takes a denting over the course of the novel.
  • Cassandra Truth: Elizabeth tries to warn her father that if Lydia is allowed to go to Brighton, she will bring scandal on the family by becoming "the most determined flirt that ever made herself or her family ridiculous." Mr Bennet's response is, essentially, "Don't worry, sweetie, nothing bad will happen – and besides, if we don't let her go, she'll throw a tantrum." She is not only correct, but underestimates just how bad going to Brighton will be for Lydia.
  • Character Development: Elizabeth becomes a more reliable narrator, as mentioned below. Mary becomes less gloomy and more confident near the end. Kitty steadily grows less like Lydia and more respectable and caring like her role models Jane and Lizzy. Mr Bennet, who had always been "contented with laughing" at the antics of his younger daughters, smartens up and takes his responsibilities as parent much more seriously. Mr Darcy learns to express his Hidden Heart of Gold more outside of those closest to him while acknowledging that he can still be a bit of a pompous, arrogant tool and learning to be a bit more pleasant and polite to people.
  • Child Marriage Veto: Elizabeth flat-out refuses to marry Mr. Collins, against the wishes of her mother, who is not a little displeased and attempts to get her father to make her marry him, threatening never to see her again if she does not. Mr Bennet, perhaps wanting to help Elizabeth, declares that he will never see her again if she does. Her mother persists in her pressure, but this effectively settles the matter.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Elizabeth and the Gardeners happen to visit Pemberly on the same day Darcy returns; he was even meant to return the day after their visit, but changed his mind.
  • Control Freak: There is only one way to do absolutely anything, and that is Lady Catherine de Bourgh's her mind, at least. This leads to tension when she eventually meets Elizabeth Bennet, who isn't particularly inclined to let Lady Catherine or anyone bully her about.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Jane, to Elizabeth in particular, since the younger three tend to tune them out a lot.
    • The ending indicates that Kitty eventually regards both Jane and Elizabeth in this light.
    • Elizabeth also becomes this to Georgiana Darcy.
  • Daddy's Girl: Inverted. It is clear that Mr Bennet is deeply attached to his second eldest, Elizabeth.
  • Dances and Balls: It is set during the 19th century in England after all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elizabeth, who takes after her father in that regard ("For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?").
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Darcy is a male version. Elizabeth has some aspects of it as well.
  • Delusions of Eloquence : Mr Collins.
  • The Ditz: Lydia Bennet. Mrs Bennet is no great intellect either, for that matter, and neither is Mr Collins.
  • Double Standard: In Elizabeth's mind, Charlotte's agreeing to marry Mr Collins in exchange for a comfortable home and a modicum of respectability represents "a betrayal of every better feeling". Wickham's decision to court the heiress Mary King despite the fact that he'd been uninterested in her before she inherited money, on the other hand, is simply a matter of pragmatism, although this could be seen as a way for Elizabeth to deal with the news — she was interested in him initially, and might now want to be seen to be calm and not allow herself to be upset. The narrator does call Elizabeth out on this. There is also the fact that, unlike Wickham, Elizabeth was friends with Charlotte, cared about her happiness, and likely expected more from her/held her to a higher standard than a man she didn't really know all that well.
    • Elizabeth's views are justified in that she objects mainly because she knows Mr. Collins is a rather odious character. Though if she knew Wickham's true character at that point, she would have probably argued against the potential match on Mary King's behalf.
  • Dreadful Musician: Keep Mary away from your piano unless she's playing for people to dance. Please. (In the book, Mary is a technically accomplished but unemotional pianist. In movie versions, however, she is more often portrayed as just a bad musician. Her singing voice is best avoided in both.) By the way, this advice is easier said than done; Mary is one of the 'self-deluding' types.
  • Elopement: Wickham convinces Georgiana Darcy into one, his main motive being her fortune of thirty thousand pounds. The plan falls apart when a guilt-ridden Georgiana confesses it to her brother, who then writes to Wickham to tell him that his sister is off limits. Later, Wickham actually does elope with Lydia Bennet, who is saved from being Defiled Forever by marrying him.
  • English Rose: Elizabeth's sister Jane is kind, polite, well-mannered and beautiful English country gentry. Jane is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: invoked How Elizabeth views Lydia and Wickham's marriage. Everyone else is celebrating because it means her reputation (and, by extension, the family's) is saved. Elizabeth's internal monologue points out that Wickham is no prize either as a husband or a brother-in-law, and that it's terrible circumstances indeed that make this seem like a "happy" ending. Indeed, in the Where Are They Now sum up at the end, Wickham quickly loses whatever regard he had for his wife and vice versa, leaving them stuck in a loveless marriage they can't get out of.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Completely subverted with Darcy. The problems of making snap judgments based on first impressions is a major theme of the novel, and Darcy's turning out to be nothing like the icy, indifferent man he seems at first is an illustration of it.
    • The 1995 miniseries uses its first few minutes to display the general characteristics of the main characters — Bingley's cheerful personality, Darcy's disdain, Lizzy's lively nature, Mr. Bennet's long-suffering, Jane's even temper, and Mrs. Bennet, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia's unbearable histrionics.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • Bingley and Jane, despite how discreet they both are. The fact that everyone is talking about it is what prompts Darcy to intervene.
    • Averted with Darcy and Elizabeth. The Gardiners' understandable conclusions aside, not even Jane believes Lizzy when she first tells her they are engaged, and takes some convincing that Lizzy does love Darcy in truth. This is partly because everyone except the Gardiners was around when Darcy and Elizabeth first met and did nothing but bicker, whereas when the Gardiners finally meet Darcy, Elizabeth's feelings have considerably warmed to him and Darcy is making a conscious effort to present himself in a more humble and agreeable fashion, thus enabling them to see what everyone else couldn't.
  • Evil Former Friend: Darcy and Wickham were childhood friends.
  • Female Gaze: Darcy's introduction.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Mr Collins makes the mistake of thinking this applies to the Bennet daughters, but they're not that poor.
  • Fiction 500: Mr Darcy is a most eligible bachelor, having been blessed with good looks and a yearly income of at least £10,000 which, adjusted for inflation etc, etc, makes it about £796,000 note  in 2018. Mrs Bennet even says that he's "as good as a Lord".
  • First-Name Basis: Elizabeth and Charlotte, which signifies that the two are the best of friends and have been for many years.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The younger sisters, headed by Lydia, are the Foolish sisters, while Jane and Elizabeth are the Responsible sisters.
  • Foreshadowing: When Jane and Elizabeth return from London and Kent (respectively), Lydia asks them about their trips, then gives them no chance to reply before launching into a Wall of Text about her own recent activities. But her non-stop talk includes this prophetic gem:
    Lydia: I should like to be married before any of you.
    • Wickham, after explaining (with a heavy tilt in his favor, of course) his backstory to Lizzy, swears that he will not be driven from Meryton's society by Darcy, and is determined Darcy shall have all the discomfort because it's his fault (according to Wickham). Then Bingley finally throws his ball and Wickham immediately has an excuse not to come. Weird, it's almost like Wickham's not as great as he makes himself out to be. Lizzy later notes that she should have noticed this, but her determination to dislike Darcy clouded her judgment.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted in the case of Wickham. He had a rather nice childhood, and his father was a good man. Darcy notes the elder Mr Wickham was "always poor from the extravagance of his wife", so Wickham could have been a spoilt mummy's boy who never grew up.
  • Garden of Love: Elizabeth recognizes Darcy as a worthy man while touring the grounds of Pemberley, discerning that the care he gives his garden is an indicator of his true character. When asked, she even cites her experience as the point she began to fall in love with him:
    It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.
  • Generic Cuteness: Austen doesn't go into detail as to what the Bennet daughters look like, except that Jane is considered to be the most beautiful, and Mary is the plain one. But none of them are bad-looking, and their social "attractiveness" depends just as much on their manners and personality.
  • The Ghost: Justified, since the whole story is from Elizabeth's perspective and she never talks with some people, only about them.
    • Mrs. Long is frequently mentioned by Mrs. Bennet, but does not show up with the other characters and plays no role other than the most common source of Mrs. Bennet's gossip.
    • Miss King is one of Wickham's affections when her fortune turns him away from Elizabeth, but otherwise is only mentioned twice: once at the beginning of their relationship, and once at the end, both times without ever actually appearing.
    • Mrs. Younge was the attendant to Darcy and Wickham at a young age, and while she plays a role in Lydia's elopement with Wickham, she otherwise never appears.
  • Giftedly Bad: Mary's singing, and she also fancies herself as extremely clever and profound, when her "insights" are usually cases of either stating the obvious and/or obnoxious, unnecessary moralising that no one wants to hear.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Averted with Jane and Elizabeth; while Jane is the "pretty" one (although not unintelligent) and Elizabeth is the "clever" one (although not unattractive), they're incredibly close, the best of friends and barely have a cross word in the entire novel. Played straighter with Lydia (filling the "pretty" role as she's shallow and boy-crazy) and Mary ("smart", although not nearly as smart as she thinks she is); although they're never shown actually arguing in the book, it is noted that Lydia routinely ignores anything Mary says. The novel doesn't take sides, and points out that they're both as bad as each other.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Wickham hopes to secure his fortune by marrying a woman with money.
    • Mrs Bennet might not be one (it's never entirely clear - she married above her class when she wed Mr Bennet, but he's not very rich, so his fortune may not have been the draw), but she certainly encourages her daughters to follow the philosophy.
    • A more positively presented example is Colonel Fitzwilliam, who warns Elizabeth that as the younger son of an Earl, he's expected to marry money.
    • To a certain extent, this applies to almost every character in the book: they all (with the possible exception of Lydia) consider the wealth/social position of any potential partner. Elizabeth discusses this with her aunt at one point: what's the difference between gold-digging and simply being practical?
    • All this is Truth in Television, since in the early 19th century (as had been the case for centuries), marriages in the middle and upper classes had been contracted more for economic (and, among royalty and the upper nobility, political) reasons than for romantic ones. The ability of a prospective husband to provide for his wife and potential children, and the amount of the dowry that a bride could bring into her marriage, were crucial concerns.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mr Darcy is a kind man, but cool and distant to those he considers beneath him. This changes, obviously.
  • Good-Looking Privates: A good portion of the plot is driven by the fact that girls go crazy over a man in a red coat. After the arrival of the militia, Kitty and Lydia lose interest in anything other than military men.
  • Gossip Evolution: Shortly before the first ball Bingley attends in his new neighbourhood, he makes a brief visit to London. Someone guesses that he went there to collect friends to bring to the ball, and this rapidly turns into a rumour that he's going to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen. (He does bring some friends, but not nearly that many.)
    • Towards the end of the novel, the news of Jane and Bingley's engagement, by the time it reaches Lady Catherine via the Lucases and the Collinses, has gained the (untrue) additional detail that Lizzy is to marry Mr Darcy...
  • Grande Dame: Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Caroline Bingley's venomous spite towards Elizabeth is based mainly on the fact that Elizabeth- unlike Caroline- managed to catch Darcy's eye.
  • Grounded Forever: After Lydia disgraces the family, Mr Bennet tells Kitty she's Grounded Forever. He doesn't really mean it, but she believes him. Kitty protests that if she were to be allowed to go to Brighton, she would behave better. Her father is not convinced:
    "You go to Brighton!—I would not trust you so near it as East-Bourne, for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner."
    Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry.
    "Well, well," said he, "do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them."
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Some of the language and dialogue used makes for amusing reading when looked at through modern eyes. Possibly the funniest is Mr Bennet's remarks about Wickham, when he and Lydia have left to join his northern regiment.
    Mr Bennet: He's as fine a fellow as ever I saw. He simpers and smirks and makes love to us all.
    • The preferred card game of the novel is called "loo" (short for "lanterloo"). The Bingleys at one point invite Elizabeth to join them at said loo.
    • Lady Catherine commends Elizabeth on her having "a very good notion of fingering." She's talking about her piano-playing.
    • One of the more frequent complaints regarding Mrs Bennet and her younger daughters is about their tendency to "expose themselves" at social gatherings - in context meaning that they're exposing their flaws and bad manners to the public eye, but the modern reader is likely to find themselves imagining something even more embarrassing.
    • In every instance where Mr. Collins brings up his patroness, he always remarks on her 'condescension', and mentions his intention to 'demean' himself in service to her. His meaning - indeed, the original meaning of the word - is that she is gracious to those of lower class than her and that he will serve her humbly, but the modern meaning is really the more accurate one.
  • Heir Club for Men: One of the major plot motivators is the Bennets' lack of a male heir. Their family estate is entailed, which means that it is bound legally to be inherited by the next male relative in the family line. The girls really must marry well because once their father dies their house goes to Mr Collins and, at best, they could stay for some time as his guests.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley.
  • Hidden Depths: There's a reason the original title was First Impressions.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Darcy is introduced as a rich haughty man who doesn't like socializing and sneers at everybody except his own family and very few rich friends. Darcy is eventually revealed to be much kinder, pleasant and well-liked to people who he knows well or who live near him — his family and friends, servants and the people of Lambton, near his estate of Pemberley, by and large won't hear a word spoken against him and often express surprise when Elizabeth suggests that he's not a particularly nice man. He attaches a lot of importance to appearances and proper conduct, however, and adopts a more formal, reserved manner with strangers, leading those strangers to often view him as being a pompous, humourless bore.
  • Hired Help as Family: Late Mr Darcy (Mr Darcy's father) liked and respected his steward Wickham a great deal, and he loved Wickham's son George almost like his own. He was his godfather, supported him in school to give him a gentleman's education and meant to promote him in life as best as he could. Too bad George Wickham turns out to be a scoundrel.
  • Home-Early Surprise: Elizabeth agrees to tour Darcy's estate with her aunt and uncle only after confirming that he's away this week. Naturally, Darcy has to return a day early, much to her mortification. However, he's quite happy to find her because it gives him a chance to show his improved manners from the last time they met.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Implied. Darcy is described several times as tall and once as a "great, tall fellow" by Bingley, while Elizabeth is supposedly lithe from her walking and the younger Lydia and Georgiana are both taller than she is.
  • Hypocrite: Caroline Bingley and Mrs Hurst look down on the Bennets for having relations in trade and Sir William Lucas for being a merchant before he gained his knighthood, while they're actually Nouveau Riche and only one generation away from trade themselves.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The novel is packed with it:
    • Mrs Bennet is quite fond of rewriting history to retroactively change her opinions and make it look like she's always right, particularly when it comes to prospective/not-so-prospective sons-in-law.
    • Similarly Mr Collins, when he declares his love for her, says that as soon as he saw Elizabeth he knew she was the only one for him — despite her being his second choice, after hearing that Jane was "soon to be engaged".
    • Note also how Wickham insists that he takes no pleasure in "revealing" Darcy's true character and is reluctant to do so, but takes every opportunity he can to spread his sad (and untrue) story.
    • Lady Catherine is a self-proclaimed expert on music, fond of lecturing people as to their playing, despite having never learned an instrument herself.
    • Miss Bingley, who wants Darcy for herself, tears down Elizabeth every chance she gets; most notably, she claims that Elizabeth is one of those women who try to get men's approval by putting down other women.
    • In chapter 57 Mr Collins writes to Mr Bennet on how to treat Lydia and Wickham after their elopement and living together before they married: "You ought certainly to forgive them, as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing". Mr Bennet even lampshades it: "That is his notion of Christian forgiveness!"
  • I Do Not Speak Nonverbal: Kitty asks loudly why her mother keeps winking at her.
  • I Have This Friend...:
    • Colonel Fitzwilliam starts a conversation with Elizabeth about how younger sons can't responsibly propose to whomever they like because they don't have much to offer. Elizabeth takes it as this trope, since Fitzwilliam is a younger son who's been acting quite partial to her. The whole conversation is incredibly awkward and embarrassing for both parties - Elizabeth starts wondering if she's been too forward - but it has to be said and once the impossibility of anything but friendship is firmly established they can both relax and be as friendly as they please.
    • Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth a lot of innocent and seemingly irrelevant questions when the two of them aren't engaged in Snark-to-Snark Combat, such as whether she considers poetry an acceptable way for a man to express his feelings for a woman, or whether she would ever consider living in a place such as Kent, which is located more than 50 miles away from her family (and incidentally, about the same distance as Pemberley, just in a different direction). Needless to say, Elizabeth doesn't realize what he's on about.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: A big part of Darcy's attraction to Elizabeth is the fact that, unlike Caroline Bingley and others of her ilk, Elizabeth sees no need to try and impress him just because he's single and wealthy.
  • Ill Girl: Anne de Bourgh is "of a sickly constitution." Living with Lady Catherine would make anybody ill.
  • Info Drop: Mr Darcy's first name appears in the book all of twice. The first time is when Mrs Gardiner struggles to remember if she ever heard anything about him when she lived in Derbyshire; the second, when he signs his letter to Elizabeth.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Elizabeth, being the protagonist, is the reader's primary window into the world of the story, and we have limited opportunities to form opinions of characters other than through her. Thus the reader has no choice but to share her good opinion of Wickham and her poor opinion of Darcy, until Darcy's letter reveals the truth to both her and the reader.
    • A major source of trouble for Elizabeth is that, for the most part, she's generally correct, whether it's about Miss Bingley or Mr Collins or Mr Bingley. She's forced to come to terms with her being inaccurate on the subject of Darcy and Wickham, despite being used to being correct on matters of first impressions.
  • Inter-Class Romance: Lady Catherine throws a hissy fit over someone Mr. Darcy supposedly marrying beneath him by choosing Elizabeth. However, as Elizabeth points out, "He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter. Thus far, we are equal". This is absolutely true: Mr Bennet is a landowner, an esquire, just like Darcy (he just owns less, or less profitable land); they are of exactly the same social class. The difference as Lady Catherine sees it is that while Elizabeth's father married beneath him (Mrs Bennet's family were not gentlemen), Darcy's father married above him (Lady Anne was part of the aristocracy). Thus, while they may be of the same class in this generation, their relations are in vastly different classes.
  • In the Blood: While explaining what a good man Wickham Senior was in contrast to his son, Darcy briefly mentions that Wickham's mother was an irresponsible spender and of less than sterling moral character.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: Maria Lucas' first name is pronounced "Ma-ry-ah" — yes, like the pop star — because that's how the name was pronounced in the Regency era.note 
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Aside from his own feelings of responsibility for not speaking out against Mr Wickham, the main reason Mr Darcy goes to the trouble of making Wickham marry Lydia Bennet - which requires him to pay off Wickham's debts and buy a military commission for him even though he justifiably can't stand the man and previously refused to support him any further - is to make Elizabeth happy.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Mrs Bennet; apparently, in her youth, it was one of the main things going for her. And unfortunately for Mr Bennet, he married her for shallow reasons such as that.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mrs Bennet is right to be concerned about the girls marrying well, as their estate is going to Mr Collins, and if they don't marry, they really will be on the street. It's the way she goes about it that's the problem.
    • While Darcy was rude and condescending in his initial proposal towards Elizabeth, and while it was cruel of him to convince Bingley to give up on Jane, he has a valid point - which Elizabeth begrudgingly agrees with - that the Bennet mother and younger sisters often behave completely inappropriately in public, while Mr Bennet does little or nothing to rein them in. What respectable Regency bachelor, who's only one generation away from trade himself in Bingley's case, and comes from an important and well established family in Darcy's, would want such embarrassing in-laws?
    • While the novel (and Elizabeth) concede he has a point, however, both also make it clear that making this point during what was supposedly a passionate declaration of love and a marriage proposal was, at the very least, rather tactless.
    • Bingley's sisters also have justification in not wanting him to settle for a poorer gentleman's daughter with 'low connections' - the Bingley family are nouveau riche, and the sisters feel the urgency to marry well just as much as the Bennet sisters do.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Darcy, initially. Lampshaded by Elizabeth, who complains, in comparing Darcy and Wickham, that one has all the goodness while the other has all the appearance of it. May be the Ur-Example in the romance genre.
    • Mary and Kitty, to some extent. Mary as more "heart of gold" and Kitty as more "jerk" (until Lydia runs off with Wickham, leaving Kitty to better influences).
    • Mr Collins, kind of; while defending her decision to marry him to Elizabeth, Charlotte points out that while he might be odious and insufferable, he's not malicious and will treat her well. When we see the two in married life, while Charlotte clearly considers having as little contact with her husband as possible to be an essential part of a happy marriage, he is at least attentive and decent towards her.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Wickham — Austen's Happily Ever After endings always seem to be tempered by at least one of these, if you consider being married to Lydia and being all but exiled to northern England as getting away scot-free...
    • Lydia also, at first, appears to count as one of these. She gets away with a lot of bad behaviour, including her elopement with Wickham, scot-free, and doesn't even realise that she's done anything wrong at all. There is, however, a slight subversion at the end, as actually being Lydia, and living with Wickham, with nothing in her head but a list of fashion items, is probably a punishment in itself. The fact that she is exiled far away enough that Jane and Elizabeth don't have to see much of her is such a victory for them that the fact that she doesn't get her comeuppance matters surprisingly little. It could be that Lydia is a lot like Peg Bundy and the Bundy Curse; she's actually part of Wickham's punishment, therefore it's not all that important if she herself gets punished. Additionally, Lydia and Wickham pretty much lose all affection for each other fairly quickly, so they're both stuck in a loveless marriage where neither of them can like or respect each other, and with a family on her side who barely tolerate them.
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • Lady Catherine's plans for Mr Darcy and her daughter.
    • Mr Collins' plan to make a charitable gesture to the Bennets involves his marrying one of the Bennet sisters, though the exact relationship between them is unclear; the term "cousin", in the 18th century and earlier, was liberally applied to all manner of relatives, so the only thing certain is that he is a male-line relative of Mr Bennet. (Considering the nature of the entail, which means that after Mr Bennet's death he will inherit their home and pretty nearly everything they own, this actually is a fairly generous gesture. Unfortunately, he makes it an intolerable one by being, as described elsewhere on this page, an insufferable plank.)
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Mary.
    • Lady Catherine as well. Among other things she loudly proclaims her excellent taste in music and lectures the others on the proper way to play well...despite never having learned to play herself.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Caroline Bingley, upon hearing of Darcy and Elizabeth's engagement, is mortified, but keeps her mouth shut and is "fonder than ever of Georgiana," in the hopes of not losing the privilege of visiting Pemberley.
  • Last Girl Wins: Not in order of naming, but in order of prior history. Mr Darcy has at least some history with Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh prior to his coming to Netherfield, but it's Elizabeth - the last of the three he meets - he eventually marries.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Darcy's Christian name is mentioned twice in the book, and it's Fitzwilliam. (Fitzwilliam is his mother's maiden name. At the time, it was very common for eldest sons to be given their mother's maiden name as a first name, especially if their mother was a woman of some prominence - which Lady Anne was.) Even his aunt calls him "Darcy". Though this may be a matter of practicality; she has two nephews, and one has Fitzwilliam for a first name, and the other has Fitzwilliam for a last name.
    • We also never learn the first names of Mr and Mrs Bennet, Mr Hurst, or Mrs Gardiner (though from her letter to Elizabeth we know her first initial is M). They are all referred by their last name.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone:
    • Mrs Bennet very unsubtly arranges for Jane and Mr Bingley to have plenty of time alone together.
    • Earlier in the book, she does the same thing to allow Mr Collins to propose to Elizabeth, to Lizzy's dismay.
    • Mr Bingley does the same for Elizabeth and Darcy, only a little more subtly, near the end of the novel.
  • Licensed Game: It's the primary one of the three Austen novels that gets mashed up in the PC game Matches and Matrimony.
  • Literary Allusion Title: From the novel Cecilia by Frances Burney.
  • Literary Necrophilia:
    • There are countless sequels by various authors. Apparently a lot of readers didn't like never seeing Lizzy and Darcy consummate their relationship (though seeing as they got married, it's implied that they did). Hence, many of these sequels revolve around Lizzy and Darcy as newlyweds and all that implies.
    • There are also several variations of the original novel told from Mr Darcy's point of view.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Mary Bennet. Note that the ending implies that her preference for books is her way of coping with the lack of other social options; when she has to be her mother's companion and socialise more, her father suspects she's not that unhappy about it.
  • Looking Busy:
    • Lizzy doesn't want to play cards with the Netherfield party, so she declines their offer to join them. She says she'll amuse herself for the short time she can stay in the parlour with a book. However, their conversation turns out to be too interesting, so Elizabeth soon ditches the book and starts observing their game.
    • When Mrs Hurst is bored during one evening as others except her husband don't want to play cards, she plays with her bracelets and rings.
    • Miss Bingley takes a book to read during one evening to ape Mr Darcy (who really wants to read) in order to impress him with her "accomplished" and cultured mind.
      Miss Bingley's attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr Darcy's progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page.
    • Mr Collins joins Mr Bennet in the library and pretends to be reading, but he's just bored and he keeps distracting Mr Bennet who genuinely wants to read and wishes to be left alone.
      Mr Collins was to attend them [to Meryton], at the request of Mr Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr Collins had followed him after breakfast, and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection, but really talking to Mr Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr Bennet exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity.
    • After Mr Darcy has asked Mr Bennet for his permission to marry Elizabeth, he approaches a table where Lizzy sits and pretends to admire her needlework. He whispers her she's wanted by her father in the library.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Charlotte marries Mr Collins, who proposed to Elizabeth, who is also being pursued by Darcy and Wickham, who also goes after Mary King and then Lydia, and Caroline is after Darcy, whom Lady Catherine ships with her daughter. At the same time, Mr Collins briefly pursues Jane until he learns she's going to marry Mr Bingley, so he then proposes to Elizabeth but finally ends up with Charlotte Lucas, whom Lady Lucas wanted to marry Mr Bingley...
  • Love Epiphany: After struggling with her feelings for several months, Elizabeth has a very uncomfortable epiphany after Lydia running off with Mr Wickham leaves her convinced that Mr Darcy could not possibly ever want to marry her now:
    "It was [...] exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain."
  • Love You and Everybody: The reason that Darcy comes to the (erroneous) conclusion that Jane is not particularly attached to Bingley is because she treats him with the same sweet, friendly openness that she shows to everyone.
  • Malicious Slander: Wickham accuses Darcy of denying him a valuable living out of petty spite; this is Serious Business for the times.
  • Marry for Love: Zig-zagged in the novel. Jane and Elizabeth both express a longing to marry for mutual affection but they also have to think about financial security and social status. Charlotte knows she's getting older and is not pretty to attract a man, so she marries purely to be secured. Lydia elopes because she's careless and there is some element of lust in the match as well.
  • The Matchmaker: Mrs Bennet tries to be this.
  • Meaningful Look: Mr Darcy frequently stares at Elizabeth. What could that mean? Elizabeth thinks he finds something improper about her. Charlotte thinks he might like her, or that he's absent-minded. Nah, these are Longing Looks of true love.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Darcy ('dark').
    • Wickham the wicked one.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Poor Mary and Kitty. Especially Mary, the true middle child, who is overshadowed by her much prettier sisters. Must be hard to be the only one plain.
  • Mrs. Hypothetical: Lydia Bennet sends a letter to her friend when she elopes with Wickham rejoicing over how the next time she writes, she will sign her name "Lydia Wickham".
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: After Elizabeth's firm (and repeated) rejection of his proposals, Mr Collins wishes all of his cousins well, "not excepting my cousin Elizabeth". It's the first of many insults he aims in her direction thereafter. Of course, because he's such an insufferable plank (and not least because of the whole repeated rejection thing), Lizzy has little difficulty shrugging them off.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Mr Bingley.
    • Jane Bennet is a female example.
    • Colonel Fitzwilliam is nothing but friendly and cool.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If it weren't for Lady Catherine's concerted effort to prevent Mr Darcy and Elizabeth from marrying, each of them might have gone on indefinitely convinced that there was no chance of the other returning their feelings.
    "Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use."
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the solid clues we get that Darcy is actually a decent man is that, when asked about him, his servants sing his praises. It seems while he has no qualms about being rude to those he considers a cut beneath him, noblesse oblige requires him to be courteous and considerate to those who are very much his social inferiors and dependent on him. He also appears to be well-liked by his tenants and the nearby working folk of Lambton, the village near Pemberley, further suggesting that Darcy's more snobbish tendencies are exacerbated when he's in unfamiliar company.
    • One of the earliest clues to this comes in Wickham's speech trying to ruin Darcy's reputation: Wickham admits to Elizabeth that Darcy's pride has led him "to be liberal and generous, to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor." Apparently Darcy's generosity is so well known that even Wickham doesn't think he can get away with denying it.
  • No Accounting for Taste:
    • Mr and Mrs Bennet. The author and the characters acknowledge how unfitted these two are, so they serve as a warning to marry wisely. The narrator notes that a young Mr Bennet mistook youth and beauty for a winning personality. Also Mrs Bennet married for security and Mr Bennet not only can't provide it (as his estate is entailed and must be passed in the male line, and the marriage produced five daughters); he also actively sabotages her attempts to warn her daughters that they face a choice between financial security and marriage or being poor but independent.
    • Elizabeth is horrified when her best friend Charlotte Lucas decides to marry the insufferable Mr. Collins in cold blood for the sake of a home and a secure future. Charlotte's choice is clearly shown as "I'm 27, I don't have any money, and I'm not beautiful, so I have to take who I can get". When we see her again after her marriage, however, she is coping very nicely with her spouse, having carefully arranged their lives so they spend as little time together as possible. Unlike the Bennets, the Collinses are quite happily content in their loveless marriage, mostly thanks to the fact that Charlotte knew exactly what she was getting into and managed to plan accordingly, and Collins is too much of an idiot to know better.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Though they sure are "making love" a lot, the meaning was slightly different back then....
  • Not So Different: Elizabeth and Mr Darcy have one thing in common — they can both be exceedingly stubborn.
    • In one scene, Lydia makes a rather nasty remark about Mary King and how no one could possible care about such a plain, ugly girl. Elizabeth realizes that while she would never say such a thing, she had had pretty much the same thought. It's an uncomfortable moment for Elizabeth when she realizes that she and Lydia aren't as different as Elizabeth likes to think they are.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • No Woman's Land: The Bennet girls cannot inherent their father's property, as it is entailed to the male line, and it is made very clear that if the Bennet girls do not marry well then their futures will be fairly dim. We tend to romanticise the era, but make no mistake, it sucked being a woman during the Regency period. As noted above, part of Mr Collins' "generous" plan regarding the Bennets is that, as the father's closest remaining male relative, he will be the one to inherit their family property eventually, and marrying one of the Bennet daughters would allow the money to keep supporting the family. So in truth, it really is a fairly generous plan; unfortunately, he's so obnoxious that the prospect is unbearable for his chosen object.
    • It is generous, but he probably thought any of the five sisters would be grateful for his offer and say yes, so at the same time he had selfish motives. Of course he might also have genuinely felt badly about doing the Bennett women out of their home, the two motivations are not mutually exclusive.
  • Oblivious to Love: Elizabeth initially has no idea that Darcy is interested in her (although to be fair, he's not exactly that good at expressing it) and she continually mistakes his interest in her as disapproval.
  • Odd Friendship: Darcy and Bingley.
  • Old Maid:
    • The looming threat of Jane's and Elizabeth's future. At the start Jane is almost twenty-two and Elizabeth is twenty, so they still have time to find a husband, but their mother is constantly worried and keeps reminding them that they should be working on it. Lydia, who is fifteen and the youngest, says she would be ashamed not to be married at their age.
    • Charlotte Lucas is twenty-seven and considered an Old Maid. Everyone in her family is beyond happy when she gets engaged out of the blue with Mr Collins, especially her sisters, who are thrilled because now they can make their debuts in society and start finding husbands for themselves. Charlotte knows he's stupid and obnoxious, but he will give her a respectable, comfortable position in society. And it's not like she hasn't had a lot of experience living with stupid and obnoxious at home.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted like nobody's business.
    • William Collins, Sir William Lucas
    • Charles Bingley, Charlotte Lucas.
    • George Wickham, Georgiana Darcy
    • Catherine De Bourgh, Catherine Bennet
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam
    • Mary Bennet, Maria Lucas, Mary King
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Compared to their sisters, mother, father (to a lesser extent) and many of the other characters in the novel, both Elizabeth and Jane came across as calm, sensible and thoroughly down-to-earth young women with their heads firmly screwed on their shoulders. This does not, mean, however, that they're without their own respective issues; Elizabeth is inclined to be a bit blinded by her own cynical certainty that expecting the worst of people is the best way to approach things, while Jane is shy, good-natured and inclined to think the best of others almost to a fault.
    • The Gardiners. Despite their lower-class background relative to the rest of the cast (Mr. Gardiner is - gasp! - a lawyer who actually works for his money!) they're easily the most well-mannered and sensible characters in the book. Elizabeth is quite relieved to introduce them to Darcy as proof that at least some of her family can behave themselves. It's implied that, after they're married, Elizabeth and Darcy end up spending more time with them than Elizabeth's parents even after Mr Bennett has changed for the better, as Elizabeth is still irritated by her mother's histrionics and prefers their company anyways.
  • Opposites Attract: Darcy and Bingley again.
  • Out of Character Is Serious Business: In the BBC adaptation Bingley's love for Jane is emphasized by his actually getting angry with Darcy when he learns he tried to break them up.
    • Mr. Bennet's anger at Lydia's elopement is emphasized by his personally storming off to London to search for her himself, when he usually doesn't do anything more energetic than making wry comments. His anger is enough that, while typically snarky with Elizabeth, he immediately launches himself into a rant when Kitty expresses her own desire to go to Brighton (where Lydia ran into and decided to elope with Wickham).
    • Played with in terms of Lady Catherine's visit to Longbourn. She's the only character to make Mrs. Bennett quit prattling on for any length of time. But the fact that Lizzy doesn't break character and gives lip to Lady Catherine is what convinces Darcy he may still have a chance with her yet.
  • Parental Favoritism: Lizzy is her father's favourite; Lydia is her mother's. This provides quite an insight into their respective characters. Of the other three sisters: Jane is universally liked, Mary is universally ignored and Kitty is universally hushed.
    • The Unfavorite: Likewise, Lizzy is the "least dear to [Mrs Bennet] of all her children", and while Mr Bennet is derogatory of his younger daughters in general, he's most so with Lydia.
  • Parents as People
    • Mrs Bennet is unambiguously a shallow airhead who loads her daughters down with bad advice, but when Lizzy tries to call her out on her single-minded matchmaking, she delivers a riposte that reveals her very real fear that she and her daughters will be utterly destitute if they do not marry well.
    • Mr Bennet copes with his ill-matched marriage by finding refuge in his books and sarcasm. He is indifferent to the fact that this exposes his wife to the ridicule of their children, and their family to the ridicule of the world. By the end of the novel, though, he accepts responsibility for his daughter's mistakes and furthermore, takes measures to instill some sense in his two unmarried daughters.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Expected in polite society. Parodied here
  • Plain Jane: Mary is the plain sister in the Bennet family. Elizabeth's friend Charlotte also describes herself as such. It's Played for Drama in her case as Elizabeth is disgusted at her accepting Collins's marriage proposal just to secure her own comfort. The trope isn't played literally as the one character called Jane is actually the prettiest sister.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: Miss Darcy's father died five years before the start of the story, leaving her an orphan. Mr. Darcy (her older brother) and Colonel Fitzwilliam (her cousin) are her legal guardians.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam develop this relationship. They have great friendly chemistry during their time in Kent (which most likely continues after Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy), and possibly some mutual attraction as well; but Colonel Fitzwilliam makes it clear (in a subtle fashion) that, as a younger son of a nobleman, he cannot marry whom he chooses, and so they remain friends.
  • Playing Hard to Get: How Mr Collins interprets Elizabeth's rejection of his proposal.
  • Playing Sick: Mrs Bennet and her "poor nerves". Kitty is also not of robust health, and one has to wonder whether any of it is an affectation in order to gain attention that she otherwise wouldn't receive.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • While Elizabeth and Jane are made aware of Wickham's true personality, they choose not to tell anyone else partly because Mr. Darcy trusted Elizabeth to keep it secret. If they'd told the rest of their family, Lydia's elopement with Wickham could have been avoided. Though in their defence, they do note that it is not really their place to start broadcasting the dirty laundry of the Darcy family around town without permission. This, however, leads to...
    • Darcy starts getting irritated at himself after having heard of Lydia's elopement with Wickham. He starts thinking that, instead of keeping the whole affair to himself, he should have at least informed the people of Meryton - near which the Bennets live - so that they wouldn't be deceived by Wickham's charming nature.
  • Pre-Approved Sermon: Lady Catherine to Mr Collins.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Mr Collins is so devoted to sucking up to Lady Catherine that he shamelessly grovels over her when she's not even present. Lady Catherine, for her part, expects it from anyone she meets.
  • The Promise: Elizabeth refuses one to Lady Catherine.
  • Promotion to Parent: Mr Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam for Darcy's little sister Georgiana.
  • Proper Lady : Jane Bennet
  • Reality Ensues: Mr and Mrs Bennet show what can happen when you marry someone purely on the basis of physical attractiveness and sexual appeal. It's not the worst set up ever, but it's telling that Mr Bennet keeps himself closeted away from his wife and younger daughters as much as possible.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lizzy's reaction to Darcy's Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lydia sees absolutely no reason why anyone should be upset after she ran away from Brighton with Wickham, and was living with him, unmarried, in London for weeks (which was something almost unthinkable in Jane Austen's time). Yet she not only sees no problem with it, she boasts about it, thinks she's done something praiseworthy, demands such praise from her sisters, and can't understand why her elder sisters and father are a little cold to her. It gets so bad that Elizabeth actually has to leave the room when Lydia's talking at one point because she's physically sickened by her.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: Elizabeth rejects two proposals from two different men.
    • One of the most famous scenes in the novel involves this. Mr Darcy's proposal to Lizzie is soundly rejected and comes with a "Reason You Suck" Speech to boot; she tells him she despises him for being so arrogant and callous, treating Mr Wickham so poorly, and ruining her sister Jane's chances of marrying his friend, Mr Bingley, making him "the last man in the world whom [she] could ever be prevailed upon to marry." It doesn't help that Darcy's proposal came off as rather insulting, insinuating he was willing to put up with Lizzie's lack of prospects and 'trashy' family out of love for her. Subsequently, Lizzie discovers that Darcy isn't actually as bad as she first believed and she eventually falls in love with him, but thinks there's no way she'll be getting a second proposal after her scathing rejection. Luckily, she's wrong.
    • Lizzie rejects the proposal of Mr Collins, who's a pompous twerp and only asks her because Jane is ostensibly unavailable. He thinks she's just being modest and so proposes again (which is admittedly normal for the time period). She rejects him until he finally gets the message that she's genuinely uninterested. Her mother is displeased because marrying Mr Collins would've secured her financially, while her father just wants her to be happy. Mr Collins doesn't take it too badly, as he marries Lizzie's friend Charlotte not long after.
  • Rejection Affection: Played straight but then quickly averted. While Mr Collins initially takes Elizabeth's first rejection as encouragement to continue courting her, he soon finds out that she is serious. But his initial interpretation of her rejection as a positive step in their relationship reflects on his views of women in their culture.
  • Reverse Relationship Reveal: The reader spends most of the book thinking Mr Wickham is a decent young man screwed out of marriage and a fortune by a petty Mr Darcy. In fact, Wickham is a spendthrift who tried to run off with Darcy's sister. Darcy is blameless and only tried to protect her.
  • Rich Bitch: Bingley's sisters are constantly snide, condescending and haughty, Caroline especially. It's implied that they're a bit Nouveau Riche and are making up for their recent good fortune with excessive snobbery.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Referred to obliquely by Mr Bennett. He thinks that if only he had put away an inheritance for his children, his daughter would not have to "prevail on the most worthless man in the county" to marry her - suggesting that even Lydia's living with a man for a time could have been overlooked if she'd had any kind of a dowry.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After several increasingly emphatic attempts to convince Mr Collins that she is not going to marry him, Elizabeth resorts to just getting up and walking out of the room. It still takes him a while to get it.
    • Mr. Collins himself does this at the very end of the book, deciding that he and his wife would be better off in a different county until Lady Catherine gets over her fury regarding Darcy's marriage to Elizabeth.
  • Self-Made Man: Mr Gardiner.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • Mr Collins sounds always pompous.
    • Bingley accuses Darcy of it, saying "he studies far too much for words of four syllables" when writing his letters. It seems likely from the context that he's just teasing Darcy, though.
  • Settle for Sibling: Attempted by Mr Collins, but Elizabeth firmly refuses to have any of it.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Lydia and Wickham.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Caroline Bingley tries to ship her brother with Georgiana Darcy, mostly in order to help her own pursuit of Mr Darcy.
    • Charlotte ships Elizabeth/Darcy almost from the beginning. She encourages Lizzy to dance with Darcy when he asked her, and thinks he might really like her when they all meet again at Hunsford and Rosings.
    • Lady Catherine makes a comically unsuccessful attempt to ship her daughter with Darcy.
    • Mrs Gardiner certainly seems to ship Lizzy/Darcy as well, with quite a lot of good-humoured hints.
    • Pretty much everyone in Meryton wants Bingley to marry Jane Bennet.
    • Near the end, Jane reveals that she and Bingley had been quietly shipping Elizabeth and Darcy.
  • Shipping Torpedo:
    • Miss Bingley and Mr Darcy actively break up Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley. She's a snob who ships him with Miss Darcy. Mr Darcy thinks Miss Bennet doesn't love him.
    • Mr Darcy doesn't like that George Wickham flirts with Elizabeth. He's jealous and he knows that Wickham is not an honest man.
    • Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth's aunt, advises against Elizabeth's possible relationship with Wickham because neither of them has independent fortune.
    • Darcy reveals that he found out that his sister nearly eloped with a man but luckily he stopped them.
    • Lady Catherine is furious when she hears rumours that her nephew Mr Darcy is love with Elizabeth Bennet and does her best to break them up. Ironically, her efforts are what bring them together.
  • Shrinking Violet:
    • Georgiana Darcy is even more socially awkward than her brother. She can barely get a couple of words out before she knows you, which can be taken by the uninformed (or twisted by the malicious) to mean that she's stuck-up. It's actually taken as a sign for Elizabeth of Mr Darcy's true nature when she sees Georgiana opening up to her and actually being a rather sweet girl, just shy and soft-spoken, when they dine at Pemberley.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Jane and Elizabeth Bennet; proud Mr Darcy and timid Georgiana; bookish Mary and irreverent Lydia.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The moving force of the story.
  • Skewed Priorities: While all the other Bennets lament that Lydia's Shotgun Wedding is a bad solution to a worse problem and makes somebody they all hate part of the family, Mrs. Bennet's chief concern is that Lydia should have nice enough wedding-clothes.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Mocked via Lizzy in response to Mr Collins. So Miss Austen, at least, thought this trope was already being overused more than 200 years ago.
  • Slut-Shaming: Lydia's fling almost ruins her entire family. Justified both in the sense of the social conventions of the time, and her being simply a terrible person all around and absolutely deserving of the scorn she attracts.
  • Smug Snake: Whilst not exactly a villain, Mr Collins is this in almost every other respect. Lady Catherine de Bourgh (especially in the film adaptations) would probably be a more direct match.
  • The Snark Knight: Lizzy; also the narrator, on occasion. Mr. Bennet as well and it's pretty clear where Lizzy gets it from.
  • Spell My Name with a Blank: Wickham joins the ___shire Regiment, and Colonel Fitzwilliam is the younger son of Earl ____.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Lizzy Bennet. She's intelligent, witty and lively, but dutiful to her parents and loyal to her friends. She knows the rules of society, and is distinguished by her good manners, but she isn't afraid to break rules that strike her as obsolete or to say what she thinks. The Trope Codifier as there are some earlier examples, but none is as influential as Lizzy.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Lydia in the book - at least, she considers herself to be tall and attractive. Early in the book, on the prospect of whether or not Bingley will dance with her, Lydia remarks, "Oh, I am not afraid, for though I am the youngest, I'm the tallest!". note 
  • Stupid Good: From Elizabeth's perspective, Jane Bennet. She would totally defend any poor defenseless hellspawn (read: Caroline Bingley). The trope doesn't mean the character is literally stupid, however. Even Jane realizes what bad eggs Bingley's sisters are when they deign to visit her in London. However, Jane sees it differently. She maintains that up until she saw Caroline in London, she had just as much reason to think that Caroline's friendship was genuine as Elizabeth did to think it wasn't.
  • Sugary Malice: Bingley's sisters pretty much live and breathe this trope, but nearly everyone is guilty of it at least once or twice. The only exceptions are Jane and Georgiana (and Anne de Bourgh, mostly because she never speaks).
  • Surrounded by Idiots: On occasions when both Elizabeth and Jane are absent from Longbourn, Mr Bennet feels this way while stuck at home with his wife and three youngest daughters — so much so that when Elizabeth leaves to visit the Collinses, he tells her to write often and "almost promises" to answer. (Since he abhors writing letters, this is a big deal.) As he puts it in the 1995 BBC version:
    Mr Bennet: You'll be very much missed, my dear. Until either you or your sister Jane return, I shan't hear two words of sense spoken together.
  • Take That!: Many hilarious jabs that Mr Darcy takes against Caroline whenever she feels like belittling Elizabeth. The best are when Caroline accuses Elizabeth of deliberately walking to Netherfield in order to make a scene and asks Darcy if he would want his sister to make such an exhibition, to which Darcy replies "Certainly not."; and when she hints that perhaps the walk has lessened Darcy's estimation of Elizabeth's "fine eyes", he casually replies, "Not at all, they were brightened by the exercise." Also parodied here.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Mary and Lizzy, when it comes to playing the piano.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Lydia and Wickham at the end for the Bingleys.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Darcy is repeatedly referred to as more handsome than he is charming.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example In-Universe. During Elizabeth's tour of Pemberley, she gives up on admiring the professional pieces of art in favour of Georgiana's childhood scribbles, "whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible". Austen - The Snark Knight - strikes again.
  • Unable to Support a Wife:
    • Wickham with Elizabeth. When he starts paying attentions to an heiress, her aunt objects, and Elizabeth points out that it's unreasonable to criticise him both for wooing a poor woman he can't marry and for wooing a rich woman he can.
    • Inverted in the famous first line: obviously this inability is the only conceivable reason for a man not to marry.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played With: Part of Elizabeth's Character Development involves realizing that she is one. Thus Austen encourages Lizzy's biases in the first half of the novel by simply glossing over any contrary evidence, and the turning point occurs when Lizzy is forced to confront the other side of the situation. To be fair to her, though, even Darcy admits in his letter that "detection could not be in [her] power".
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Especially in the second half of the book.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Mrs Bennet, although she isn't quite as upper-class as she'd like.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Wickham, whose easy manners and charm (combined with Darcy's reticence) allow him to paint himself as the wronged party in his relationship with Darcy.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: In the BBC version, Mr Hurst wakes up while Darcy and Bingley are discussing the Netherfield assembly and offers this contribution:
    Hurst: "What? I agree; damn tedious waste of an evening!"
  • Wall Glower: Darcy makes a bad first impression on everybody by refusing to dance.
  • Weddings for Everyone
  • Wham Line: "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Elizabeth certainly doesn't see it coming.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Mr Darcy admires Elizabeth's "fine eyes".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mary and Kitty's long-term fates aren't described in the novel beyond the fact that Kitty often visited Jane and Elizabeth and that Mary thus had to become her mother's chief companion. Austen revealed, to her nieces and nephews, that Mary married her uncle Phillips's clerk and became a star in Meryton society and that Kitty married a clergyman near Pemberley.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • When Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, and is arrogant about it, she doesn't just turn him down. She launches into a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how he is a Jerkass that cost Jane's happiness, and broke up Jane's relationship with Bingley. Darcy has no defense against this, though he later writes an apology letter to her. The only point that she's wrong on is about Wickham; Darcy explains later his reasons for keeping Wickham away.
    • Later on, Elizabeth gives one to herself for not telling anyone about Wickham's character. It might have kept Lydia from eloping with the man.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The last chapter of the book describes what became of all the characters after Mr Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage.
    • Mrs Bennet remains silly, but luckily Mr Bennet still finds her amusing. However, he misses Elizabeth so much that he actually travels to Pemberley - often without warning her, because he loves to surprise her with his arrival.
    • Kitty and Mary both improve in character: the former because she is influenced less by Lydia and more by Jane and Elizabeth, the latter because she no longer gets compared with her more beautiful sisters.
    • Mr Bingley and Jane purchase an estate only thirty miles away from the Darcys' home, much to Jane and Elizabeth's joy.
    • The affections Lydia and Wickham had for each other quickly cools off, and they lived by leeching off the Darcys and the Bingleys.
    • Georgiana and Elizabeth develop a great relationship as Mr Darcy had hoped.
    • Lady Catherine eventually relents, and Elizabeth manages to reconcile her and Mr Darcy enough for Lady Catherine to visit Pemberley from time to time.
    • The Gardiners frequently visit Pemberley, and Darcy loves them just as much as Elizabeth does.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jane.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Elizabeth and Darcy, and Jane and Bingley. (They do, of course.)
  • Writing Around Trademarks: By the time Miss Austen's publisher decided to publish First Impressions, two novels were already on the shelves with that title.
  • Wrong Guy First: Wickham is so not the fella for you, Lizzy.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: Jane insists to Elizabeth that she's not in love with Bingley anymore, she just thinks he's the kindest, handsomest man she's ever met, and always will regard him as "the most amiable man of [her] acquaintance" but they can totally just be friends now that she knows he's not in love with her. Lizzy laughs in her face.


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