Jane Bennet
Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. She is twenty-two years old at the start of the novel. Jane is generally considered to be the most beautiful of her sisters. Seeing only the good, she is incapable of suspecting the worst of people. The depth of her feelings is difficult to discern by those who do not know her well, due to her reserved manne... Show more »
Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. She is twenty-two years old at the start of the novel. Jane is generally considered to be the most beautiful of her sisters. Seeing only the good, she is incapable of suspecting the worst of people. The depth of her feelings is difficult to discern by those who do not know her well, due to her reserved manner and pleasantness to all.Like most of her sisters, Jane is excited to be going to an assembly in Meryton, the market town near the village of Longbourn, where the Bennets are the principal family. There she meets the new occupant of the nearby estate of Netherfield Park, Charles Bingley. At the ball, they are clearly attracted to each other, and dance together for two sets. Jane is also happy to be developing a friendship with Mr. Bingley's sophisticated sister Caroline.Eventually, Caroline invites Jane to dinner at Netherfield, on a day when Charles is dining out. On her mother's insistence, she goes by horseback, is caught in the rain, and catches a bad cold. As a result, she is forced to stay at Netherfield for several days, tended mainly by her sister Elizabeth. Although he would not be expected to be much help in nursing Jane, Mr. Bingley is clearly concerned for her health and offers to provide any help he can. After a few days, Jane and Elizabeth are brought home by their mother and sisters.As time passes, the mutual attachment of Jane and Bingley becomes more and more obvious. It's a topic of conversation throughout the Meryton neighborhood. Although Jane does not speak of it, it is clear to Elizabeth that her sister is in love. However, Elizabeth's friend Charlotte Lucas observes that Jane's attitude of friendly composure toward Bingley does little to encourage his affection. This is borne out when Jane receives a letter from Caroline telling her that the Bingley's have left for in indefinite stay in London. The letter also hints that Bingley may marry his friend Darcy's sister Georgiana, although Elizabeth thinks this is Caroline's wishful thinking.In any case, Jane is heartbroken. Eventually, she agrees to visit her maternal uncle Gardiner and his family, who live in London - albeit the unfashionable East End. While there, she tries to pay a call on Caroline, but is told she is out. After considerable delay, Caroline returns the visit, but her cold demeanor is enough to convince even Jane that Caroline is not her friend. Jane writes of this to Elizabeth, and also claims that she is finding amusement in the plays and other activities of England's metropolis. Finally, Jane returns to Longbourn, having never encountered Bingley during the entire time they were both in London.Once the sisters are together, Elizabeth reveals that she had to refuse a proposal from Mr. Darcy, one that was expressed in the insulting tone that characterized his relationship with her. She also reveals portions of a missive from Darcy, one that gives evidence about the character of Mr. Wickham, a militia officer who had been stationed with his regiment near Meryton and had become friendly with the Bennets. Rather that being unjustly treated by Darcy, the evidence indicates that Wickham was untrustworthy, and had even tried to elope with 15-year-old Georgiana, obviously for her fortune. The two sisters agree that since Wickham has left Meryton with his regiment, there is no reason to try to publicly discredit the popular officer.That spring, the Gardiners arrive at Longbourn to drop of their children and pick up Elizabeth, whom they are taking on a tour to the north. (Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister, has already departed to Brighton with friends, Col. and Mrs. Forster.) After they set off, Jane occupies herself in caring for the Gardiner children.One day, she and her parents are shocked to get a communication from the colonel - Lydia has eloped with Mr. Wickham. Jane mails a letter to Elizabeth, giving her this distressing news. There is a worse shock when they learn that the couple has not gone to Gretna Green, where they would head to be married. Instead, they've been observed going in the direction of London, where they can be concealed as they live together, unmarried! Jane sends another missive to Elizabeth, revealing that Mr. Bennet has left for London and urging that she and the Gardiners return immediately so their uncle can aid in the search for Lydia. In the mean time, Jane has her hands full not only with the Gardiner children but with her mother, who is keeping to her bed in a constant state of upset over her youngest's shame.Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle return as quickly as possible, and Mr. Gardiner continues on to London. The trail there appears to grow cold, and Mr. Bennet returns, gravely dejected. There is a sudden turn when a letter arrives from Mr. Gardiner, announcing that Lydia and Wickham have been found, and the officer has agreed to marry his conquest, subject only to an incredibly small settlement on Lydia. Jane is shocked to hear speculation that her uncle must have put up something like 10,000 pounds to bring this about - a sum the Bennets could never afford to pay back.The marriage takes place, and Jane helps Elizabeth convince their father that, contrary to his inclination, he should invite the couple to Longbourn, as if everything pertaining to the marriage were perfectly respectable. The visit comes off as plan, although at one point Lydia makes the odd statement that Bingley's friend Mr. Darcy was present at her wedding, but she won't explain why. After the couple departs, the family learns that Mr. Bingley is returning to the neighborhood. Jane tells Elizabeth that she has no expectations that this will affect her.Shortly after his return, Bingley pays a courtesy call on the Bennets, in the company of his friend Darcy. Soon after this visit, he returns alone, and asks to speak to Jane alone. Jane is alarmed and looks to Elizabeth to stay with her. However, Mrs. Bennet uses her authority as a mother in her own home to require Elizabeth to leave the pair. Bingley apologizes for his foolishness and proposes, and is accepted. Jane is now the happiest she has ever been. Before long, she gets surprising news, which at first she refuses to believe, that Elizabeth is also engaged, to Mr. Darcy, with whom she has long been in a state of mutual antagonism. However, it turns out to be entirely true, and Jane has the additional joy of being wed in a dual ceremony with her sister. Note: Any given film version of Pride and Prejudice will depart from this bio of Jane in some respects. That is particularly true of versions set in modern times, or the ones with zombies. Show less «
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