In Pride and Prejudice, the character of Lydia Bennet is characterized as someone who is immature, critical, and foolish. Lydia is a young, spoiled teenager who is accustomed to getting what she wants and is a favorite of Mrs. Bennet. Through over-indulgence on the part of her mother and neglect on the part of her father, she has been allowed to grow to be “vain, ignorant, idle and uncontrolled.” This characterization is revealed through both direct and indirect characterization. Through the use of description, dialogue, and actions the overall meaning of the novel is conveyed.
Lydia is characterized as being a very immature young girl. Lydia goes shopping with her sister and tells everyone that she wanted to treat them all to lunch, but they would have to lend her the money because she spent all of hers. She then continues to say, “I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.” She also says that there were much uglier ones in the shop and that this one is tolerable. This statement shows that Lydia is very immature in how she spends her money and is a spendthrift. Lydia Bennet’s dialogue shows that she is very critical of other people. Jane and Elizabeth tell the waiter that he doesn’t need to stay. Lydia then laughs and says, “Aye, that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought the waiter must not hear, as if he cared! I dare say he often hears worse things said than I am going to say.”
She then says that he is very ugly and has such a long chin and that she’s glad he’s gone. Lydia also says that her news about Wickham is too good for the waiter. Elizabeth then tells Lydia that Wickham is safe because Mary King is gone to Liverpool. Jane says, “But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side.” Lydia says, “I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it he never cared three straws about her. Who could about such a nasty little freckled thing?” Through Lydia’s conversations we see that she is a critical person. Lydia is also a very foolish person. She is very concerned with the militiamen. She is very happy to hear that they are in town for the summer. Lydia tells Elizabeth, “They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer… Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!” Lydia only seems to care about flirting with the militia.
She thinks that she will be miserable all summer if she doesn’t go to see them. Elizabeth says, “Good Heaven! Brighton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of Meryton.” When Mary says, “Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book,” Lydia rarely listens to anyone besides herself for more than a minute, and never listens to Mary at all. Lydia seems to only be concerned with the little, unimportant things that happen. Through the dialogue between Lydia and the other characters, the character of Lydia is clearly described. Lydia is constantly obsessed with the officers in the regiment, and sees no purpose to life beyond entertainment and diversion. She lacks any sense of virtue, propriety or good-judgment, as well as maturity.
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