When we think about a story, our minds usually go to the main characters. In Pride and Prejudice, most of the attention goes to Darcy and Elizabeth. But what about the other characters? What about them is important?
Mrs Bennet: The lady was vulgar in the way she attempted to marry off her daughters, but when you look at the lady, her concern for her daughters was what ruled her behavior. With no funds to provide adequately for mother and 5 daughters, they would be at the mercy of others for their keep.
Mr Bennet: The man’s neglectful behavior made his favorite daughter a strong and independent young lady. And his love of reading, which he encouraged in Elizabeth, made her the lady she was. Intelligent, well read, not a simpering female who spoke only of the lace and ribbons. If not for this difference, Darcy might not have fallen in love with her. Another thing Mr Bennet did for his beloved daughter was to allow her to make up her own mind. What if he had insisted she marry Mr Collins? The life she would have had would have been horrible.
Mr Collins: Yes, most of us are repulsed by the toad of a man, but his foolishness was important and beneficial. If he had been a reasonable and likeable man, Elizabeth might have come to accept a life with him. Then where would we be? His simpering ways, fawning over Lady Catherine, and disgusting habits kept Elizabeth from making the biggest mistake of her life.
George Wickham: Ok, it is difficult to really find something positive about the man. How about we go with the fact that he turned his attention towards Mary King, allowing Elizabeth to realize that she could never marry someone like him, as Wickham was unable to afford to have a wife and home. His turning attention towards a young lady who had recently inherited showed he was mercenary in a way, whether she understood it at that point or not. And when she looked back on what Wickham had told her, Elizabeth came to realizations of the lies he had told her and how the lies had bolstered her injured ego from Mr Darcy’s “tolerable, but not handsome enough” declaration.
Mr and Mrs Gardiner: This couple are the devoted and loving “parents” who have taken Jane and Elizabeth into their hearts and aided the girls to be levelheaded. They gave the eldest Bennet daughters stability and someone to rely on for sense. And the example of a happy marriage helped to form the two eldest Bennet sisters wish for love matches rather than marriages of convenience.
Jane Bennet: Her sweet nature and acceptance of her mother’s dictate which sent Jane out on horseback, in the rain, allowed Elizabeth to spend time at Netherfield with Darcy. Though Lizzy was allowing her prejudice against her to rule her opinion, there had to be a seed to be embedded in the young lady’s mind and definitely pushed Darcy’s mind towards the sort of woman he wished to have for a wife. And, if it had not been for Bingley returning to Netherfield to ask for Jane’s hand, what are the chances that Darcy would have returned to the neighborhood?
Caroline Bingley: Yes, she is nasty. She is someone you wish to slap up side of the head or you cheer when she gets her comeuppance. But remember one thing. She was the one who first got Darcy to admit his feelings for Elizabeth. His comments about Elizabeth’s fine eyes showed his feelings emerging, and he was able to give it voice, whether he wished to or not. If he had never acknowledged the truth of his feelings, would he have been determined to ask Elizabeth for her hand? Would he have allowed himself to make such a step, or would he have continued to dream of Elizabeth, yet do so silently?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: It might appear that this woman did nothing to aid the couple, yet, you would be wrong. After all Darcy did to assist the Bennet family, when he could have easily walked away and considered them ruined by the elopement of Lydia and Wickham, he did not. But it was Lady Catherine’s visit to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth that provoked Elizabeth to show her love for Darcy. Refusing to give the assurance that she would never accept an offer from Darcy, Elizabeth finally gives voice to her hopes of Darcy to return, for him to renew his question. Then, when Lady Catherine goes to London, visiting Darcy at his townhouse, and telling Darcy of Elizabeth’s refusal, Darcy comes to realize Elizabeth must care for him. If she had not, she would have promised Lady Catherine not to accept Darcy. So, Lady Catherine removed the final barrier, sending her nephew into the arms of Elizabeth Bennet.
Mrs Reynolds: The sweet housekeeper is devoted to her master, and it is due to his kindness, his generosity, and his caring to all who were a part of his properties or worked for him. And her words, unsolicited, about Wickham’s behavior aided in solidifying his character for Elizabeth. By that point, Elizabeth had come to believe Darcy’s letter, but having this person who had known both men since they were children tell her the truth, Elizabeth was able to dismiss any remaining doubt. And, if she had not been dedicated in the tour she gave to Elizabeth and the Gardiners, would the family have left, never seeing Darcy at Pemberley? Without that connection, would Darcy have gotten involved with rescuing Lydia, or would he even know that Elizabeth’s opinion of him had changed? Another situation was with Bingley. Had Darcy not seen Elizabeth at Pemberley, would he have told his friend that Jane Bennet had been in love with him? Without Bingley wishing to return to Netherfield, to return to Jane, Darcy would not have a reason to return to Netherfield, and there would have been two couples who were devastated.
There are others in the story, but this gives us a look past the main characters and how the main characters benefited from these characters, whether they were good or bad.
Hope you enjoy, and thank you for being a fan of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. There can never be enough JAFF, and our darling couple.