Can Characters Change?

Sarah Emsley

Third in a series on rereading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You can find Part One here and Part Two here.

Hugh Thomson's cover for P&P“People themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever,” says Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Darcy in Chapter 9 of Pride and Prejudice. She’s just admitted to Mr. Bingley that she is “a studier of character,” and she’s objecting to Mr. Darcy’s claim that “In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.” Even if you meet the same people all the time, Elizabeth suggests, the people are interesting because they’re always changing.

I love what Mrs. Bennet says here when she jumps into the conversation. After Elizabeth says, “people themselves alter so much,” her mother exclaims, “Yes, indeed … I assure you there is quite as much of that going on in the country…

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