*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
We all have that nice friend or family member on our life. The one who always sees the glass half full. The one who sees the good in others, despite their flaws. In Pride and Prejudice, that role is played by Jane Bennet, the eldest of the Bennet sisters.
The sugar to Elizabeth’s spice, Jane is soft-spoken, docile, amiable and considered to be the beauty of the family. When she meets Charles Bingley, the new guy in town, the crush between them is mutual. But his sisters and his best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy aren’t exactly keen on the idea of a potential marriage between Mr. Bingley and the eldest Miss Bennet. They conspire to separate the potential lovers in hopes of steering Mr. Bingley towards a more “appropriate” match.
In the end, Jane does marry Mr. Bingley, but not before he gets a backbone and she waits quietly for him to return.
Not everyone can be an Elizabeth. In creating the antithesis to her younger sister, Austen allowed Jane to shine in her own way. She might not have the bite or the sarcasm of Elizabeth, but Jane has qualities that Elizabeth lacks and visa versa. Where Elizabeth is quick to judge, Jane is willing to give someone a chance before making up her mind. The Hero to Elizabeth’s Beatrice, Jane stands out from her sister because of their differences.
To sum it up: No two characters should be exactly alike. In creating two different characters with different voices, beliefs and different points of view (especially in the same family) the writer enables each character to speak with their own voice and stand out from the rest of the characters. When each individual voice shines through, this engages the reader and gives them another character to potentially hook into and follow throughout the narrative.