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A Summary of Pride & Prejudice

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Pride & Prejudice was and remains Jane Austen's most popular novel. If nothing else, the number of film and television adaptations should prove this book's popularity. Her original title for this story was First Impressions. This novel focuses primarily on Elizabeth Bennet. She is an intelligent young woman and possesses a lively sense of humor. However, as with most of Austen's heroines, she is not part of the wealthy social class. In fact, through the Bennet family lives comfortably, they are considered poor and debased in terms of their wealth and family connections. Elizabeth, in spite of her relative poverty, has no desire to marry for merely wealth and security. Hence the rejection of her pompous cousin, Mr. Collins and even of Mr. Darcy - the man she will eventually marry.

Elizabeth takes great pride in her wit and believes that she has great penetration when it comes to the other characters around her. She is perceptive and insightful about several people (Mr. Bingley, Caroline Bingley, her sisters, her parents, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh), but her powers fail her when it comes to both Darcy and Wickham - her two potential suitors. In fact, she believes Wickham to be virtuous simply because he has pleasing manners, is attentive to her, and is good-looking. But, later in the novel, much to her dismay, her eyes are opened to his true character.

Her opinion of Darcy, however, is extremely poor at the start of the novel. She at first sees only his arrogance, his haughty demeanor, and his refusal to dance with her. She remains unaware that he is falling in love with her. Consequently, his proposal comes as a complete surprise. After she rejects his offer of marriage, she begins to gradually understand the depth and goodness of his character and starts to fall in love with him. Darcy eventually wins Elizabeth's heart after he voluntarily pursues Wickham (who has by that point seduced her youngest sister Lydia and persuaded her to run away with him). Darcy provides a steep financial incentive for Wickham to marry Lydia and Elizabeth later discovers his generosity. In one of the final chapters in the book, they discover their mutual love and respect.  The last chapter closes with this couple married and living happily at Permberly, Darcy's magnificent home.

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