The two main characters are Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Along the way the reader also meets Elizabeth’s mother, father, and four sisters: Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, Elizabeth’s silly cousin: Mr. Collins, Mr. Darcy’s best friend: Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy’s arch enemy: Mr. Wickham. The story is ultimately about the conflict of feeling between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.
Although her father is a gentleman, her mother’s family is “in trade”, meaning they must work for their living, and the Bennet girls are considered as bad matches for men of fortune. Unfortunately they have no brother and their father’s estate will go to their second cousin, Mr. Collins, a silly young clergyman who intends to “heal the breach” between the families by marrying one of the Bennet girls, and he has fixed his eye on Elizabeth for his future wife.
Elizabeth is a clever, energetic, young woman of twenty who relies greatly upon her first impressions and allows predetermined ideas to rule her opinion of everyone. Some detestable stories from Mr. Wickham lay down the foundation of Elizabeth’s opinion of the proud but handsome Mr. Darcy who is new to her part of the country.
She is determined to hate him forever. Her feeling of dislike for him continues to grow the more and more acquainted she is with him. Mr. Darcy’s every action afterward proves in her eyes the truth of Wichham’s lies.
Later when Mr. Darcy proposes to her, she not only turns him down but also tells him the reasons for her refusal. Not long after, her eyes are opened to Darcy’s reasoning behind his mask of indifference.
She then regrets what she has said and, the next time he proposes, accepts him. Elizabeth learns that although certain people do a good job of appearing to be wholesome, it is possible that people may seem unpleasant, but are really those doing what is right. As she says herself:
“One has got all the goodness and the other all the appearance of it.”