What Is the Significance of Lydia in Pride and Prejudice?

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Lydia plays an important role in the story despite the primary focus being on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and their love that develops throughout. Lydia is a foil to Lizzie in many ways; both on an individual level and in terms of their comparable relationships and eventual marriages. Lydia is “untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy and fearless”, and is constantly mocked by Austen in the form of comedy of manners. It is interesting that from the beginning of the story Lydia is made to sound like her mother; “Oh!” said Lydia stoutly, “I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.” The exclamations, in a similar way to that of Mrs Bennet, suggests a lack of education and level of ‘air headedness’. Lydia is outspoken and completely self-absorbed, even though she is the youngest of the sisters, which foreshadows the trouble she will get into later on in the story. This contrasts hugely with Elizabeth, who is responsible, grounded and far more reserved. This is shown after the ball at Netherfield, when Jane is displaying her gratification of the admiration she received, and Lizzie “felt Jane’s pleasure” – although Elizabeth is not directly concerned with finding a suitable husband, she is able to empathise with Jane. The main plot is that of Elizabeth and Darcy – there were many prejudices between the two; without Darcy stepping in and forcing Wickham to marry Lydia, they would have remained apart. Lydia is incapable of seeing the shame she brings on the family through running away to be married, as shown in her letter to Harriet; “I can hardly write for laughing.” Her thoughtless attitude to marriage is highlighted here – although she is motivated by love, she hasn’t thought about the consequences of what she’s doing. This again illustrates a difference between herself and Elizabeth, who tells Lydia later that “I do not particularly like your way of getting
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