Set in rural England at the end of the 18th century, Pride and Prejudice centres on the Bennet family: Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters. There being no son, the estate is entailed on a distant cousin; their situation is assured only as long as their father lives.
Mrs Bennet is therefore anxious to find wealthy husbands for her daughters. When the rich Mr Bingley moves in to the neighbourhood, she’s determined to do all she can to have him as a son-in-law. His appreciation of her oldest daughter Jane favours that hope, though neither Bingley’s sisters nor his friend, Mr Darcy, seem to approve. After he slights Elizabeth, the second Bennet girl, Mr Darcy is rapidly judged to be proud and disagreeable; Elizabeth decides she wants nothing more to do with him, despite his wealth.
A regiment of militia arrives, to the joy of the two younger Bennet girls and most of the town. When Mr Wickham joins the militia he delights everyone, including Elizabeth, and confides to her that he has been wronged by Mr Darcy. Meanwhile, Mr Darcy realises that he likes Elizabeth more than he should.
The Bennet family's ridiculous cousin Mr Collins visits, determined to marry one of the very girls he will “injure” by his inheritance of their estate. But when he proposes to Elizabeth, she refuses; he turns instead to her good friend Charlotte, who accepts him.
Not long afterwards, Mr Bingley and company move back to London, seemingly for the whole winter, to the despair of Jane and her mother. Elizabeth suspects Bingley’s sisters of meddling to prevent a match between their brother and Jane.
When Elizabeth goes to visit Charlotte and Mr Collins, who live next to Mr Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Burgh, she learns that Mr Darcy and one of his cousins are to arrive soon. From that cousin, Elizabeth discovers with sadness, but not much surprise, that Mr Darcy was behind the separation of Bingley and her sister.
So when Mr Darcy proposes to her, she is dumbfounded and angry at the same time, and she refuses him in vehement terms. He responds by writing her a letter, revealing the true story about Mr Wickham's shocking behaviour towards his sister. Elizabeth is forced to change her opinion of 'proud' Mr Darcy.
Back at home, she learns with relief that Mr Wickham is to leave with the regiment. But when Lydia is invited by the wife of the Colonel to accompany the regiment to Brighton, Elizabeth fears the worst, and she applies unsuccessfully to her father to forbid it. Lydia gets her way, and goes to Brighton.
Soon afterwards Elizabeth joins her uncle and aunt Gardiner on a trip to the Peak District, where they visit Mr Darcy's country estate, Pemberley. He arrives unexpectedly, but is strangely altered and is disarmingly kind to them.
Elizabeth receives a letter from Jane announcing that Lydia has run 0ff with Mr Wickham. Mr Darcy is appalled by the news. Elizabeth leaves with her aunt and uncle, convinced that Lydia's shameful actions mean she’ll never see him again. Mr Darcy, meanwhile, goes to London to find Wickham and persuade him to do the honourable thing and marry Lydia. He conceals his intervention from everyone but the Gardiners, however Lydia lets slip Mr Darcy's presence at her wedding and Elizabeth soon persuades Mrs Gardiner to reveal the details. She realises that her family is in great debt to Mr Darcy.
Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley return to Netherfield, and the acquaintance is renewed. Mr Bingley soon proposes to Jane. Mr Darcy proposes a second time and Elizabeth happily accepts, to everyone's surprise and despite an attempted intervention by Lady Catherine de Burgh. After the weddings, both sisters live a happy married life.
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