Pride and Prejudice

by: Jane Austen

Antagonist

Main ideas Antagonist

Two characters act as antagonists by attempting to thwart Elizabeth’s goals: Mrs. Bennet and Lady de Burgh. The two older female characters work in opposing ways, with Mrs. Bennet trying to force Elizabeth to marry a man she doesn’t love, and Lady de Burgh trying to stand in the way of Elizabeth marrying a man she does love. The antagonists have different motivations, but both find Elizabeth’s actions objectionable. Mrs. Bennet is furious that her daughter has rejected Mr. Collins’s proposal, complaining that “if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all,” and referring to Lizzy as “a very headstrong foolish girl.” Mrs. Bennet is angry that she cannot control her daughter and bend her to her will.

Similarly, Lady de Burgh is outraged when she hears that Lizzy and Darcy are engaged. She tries to seize control of the situation by telling Lizzy “This match, to which you have the presumption to aspire, can never take place.” When Lizzy implies that she will not be dissuaded from marrying a man she truly loves, Lady de Burgh calls her an “obstinate, headstrong girl”. The antagonists are outraged by Lizzy’s insistence on following her heart and seeking a partner she will be truly compatible with. They try to impose social control, but Lizzy’s integrity and strength of character defeats them. At the end of the novel, both antagonists accept Lizzy’s marriage and tacitly accept her right to make decisions about her own life.