Pride and Prejudice
The Bennet sisters are coming of age and marriage is at the top of everyone’s mind. How will a good match be found for each of the five sisters? How will their marriages ensure the financial and social survival of the Bennet family? No one is more pre-occupied with these questions than Mrs Bennet, matriarch of the family. When she learns that Mr Bingley, a handsome young bachelor of means, has arrived in Hertfordshire and is staying at Netherfield, her hopes and interest are piqued and she becomes determined to make a match for her eldest daughter, Jane. At a ball hosted by Mr Bingley, a kind and happy soul, it becomes clear that he is interested in Jane but his sister Caroline and his closest friend, the enigmatic Mr Darcy, endeavour to prevent their courtship. At the same ball Mr Darcy refuses to dance with Elizabeth, the second eldest daughter, and seems to place himself above the company. The groundwork has been laid for the tension between them.
As Mrs Bennet strategizes to strengthen the connection between Jane and Mr Bingley, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy find themselves thrown together in many social situations. Elizabeth is a clever and witty young lady and the two spar verbally about their opposing points of view on issues of social life. Mr Darcy comes to respect and admire Elizabeth, while she continues to find him arrogant.
While the courtship between Mr Bingley and Jane continues, an underlying issue stands to threaten the Bennet family. Their property, Longbourn, is entailed to Mr Collins, a cousin of the Bennets. Mr Collins comes to Longbourn for a visit and tries to impress the family with his connection to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a wealthy landowner related to Mr Darcy. He proposes marriage to Elizabeth – which would be an advantageous union for the family. Elizabeth however cannot bear to marry Mr Collins for whom she has no true affection.
Elizabeth receives another proposal, this time from Mr Darcy. However, having just found out that Mr Darcy deliberately tried to separate Mr Bingley from Jane in an effort to thwart their relationship, Elizabeth is angry and rejects Mr Darcy’s proposal immediately.
As the story progresses we learn more about Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet daughters, who is impulsive and headstrong. While away from Longbourn, Lydia engages in a passionate but ill-advised relationship with George Wickham, the arch rival of Mr Darcy, who had also previously shown interest in Elizabeth. The family is shocked by Lydia’s behaviour which threatens to ruin the Bennets’ reputation. They are determined to make sure Lydia and Wickham marry but have no power to force him to propose. Mr Darcy, ever more in love with Elizabeth, takes it upon himself to ensure Wickham marries Lydia. The Bennet family are happy with this outcome although unsure of how it was precipitated. Only Elizabeth comes to know the truth when Lydia lets it slip and she begins to understand that her prejudice has kept her from seeing Mr Darcy’s honour. She begins to fall in love with him.
The play ends with Mr Darcy proposing marriage to Elizabeth and although Lady Catherine de Bourgh tries to put a stop to the engagement, believing that her own daughter is intended for Mr Darcy, the union cannot be stopped. The play ends with the marriage of Mr Darcy to Elizabeth and Mr Bingley to Jane.