Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth Bennet

The way Elizabeth Bennet defies societal expectations and stands for what she believes in? This 19th-century feminist can teach us a lot about authenticity and resilience.

Published Jun 16, 2023
Reading time 4 min read

And the story goes:

In the heart of the English countryside, in the Regency times, Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters in the Bennet family, has to make a life-altering decision. Her family’s standing depends on it – let alone her own, as well as her sisters’ future. Without any male heirs, the Bennet inheritance would go to their distant cousin, Mr. Collins, a pompous clergyman.

There is, however an option to keep the estate – and it’s by marrying Mr. Collins that Elizabeth could preserve the prospect of security for her family.

“No, sir,” she says. “I am not the sort of female who considers her rejection of a man’s proposal means nothing. You cannot make me think it desirable to marry you.”

A refusal. An act of independence. A risk.

This pivotal moment is Elizabeth in essence – a woman who refuses to settle for anything less than what she believes she deserves, and rejects the societal norms and expectations to stay true to her feelings and values.

If you want people to see you and your creator brand the way you truly are, let’s take a page from Elizabeth’s book!

Behind The Character

A lady of sharp wit and intelligence. But also, a woman quick to judge and hold prejudices. Elizabeth Bennet, created by Jane Austen in her “Pride & Prejudice” novel, is a complex character whose journey is layered in emotions, against the context of a society based on rank, money, and social status.

Elizabeth’s most famous storyline – the relationship with Mr. Darcy – showcases her personal (emotional) development. At first, she’s prejudicial towards him and lets it dictate her behaviour towards Mr. Darcy; yet upon receiving a letter from him and learning of his actions to support her family (instead of looking down at them), she sees and admits her mistakes. Since the novel immerses us into Lizzy’s thoughts from the beginning, we see how she accepts her faults and comes out as a much more resilient and empathetic person by the end of the story.

Her refusal to marry Mr. Collins – at the time when women were expected to marry for financial security rather than love – exposes Austen’s unconventional outlook for women of that era. Attributes like fierce independence, strong opinions, or even character depth weren’t typical for female characters in literature at the time. And yet this is exactly what set Lizzy apart in the audience’s hearts and minds.

This enduring appeal was enhanced in recent film adaptations, to connect with modern audiences better (which is also telling of the context as Elizabeth’s thoughts and actions are much more socially acceptable in our times) – she’s strong, rebellious, emotionally rich. Yet, at her core, she remains the witty and spirited character, loved by old and new audiences as much.

Elizabeth Bennet: 19th-century feminist
In case you want to get a deeper look at the character, check out this moodboard I created while writing the issue.

Mapping Out The Narrative

So, what exactly captivated the hearts of the audience, since the 19th century? Two words: Authenticity and resilience.

Elizabeth's thoughts, words, and actions are all in harmony – she doesn't merely profess her beliefs, but she acts on them, even when it's inconvenient. Remember the Mr. Collins scene? Her authenticity shines throughout.

It’s a risk to follow your gut no matter what. To stick to your values, follow your mission, and be loud – with words and actions; especially if there’s a high stake. But that’s why we’re so enticed with Elizabeth. We click with people whose perspectives resonate, and support them when they keep showing up and honouring their beliefs with every single action.

And then there's resilience. Elizabeth doesn't shy away from her mistakes, but instead, she learns from them. She evolves, growing into a more understanding and empathetic character – someone who can see beyond her own prejudices.

It is worth noting, however, that while she sees her assumptions and prejudices in the relationship with Mr. Darcy, there’s still a hint of pride in her attitude towards other women who don’t follow her suit. Lizzy’s judgement clouds her understanding of other people’s points of view and disregards that other women might not have the same societal position to make similar choices.

At the end of the day, Elizabeth’s perception and growth are rooted in the context of her era and perhaps reflects the life experiences of Jane Austen herself.

Both her authenticity and resilience make Elizabeth not just a memorable character, but an enduring one. We see her for who she is, there are no mismatches between her intentions and actions.

And often, these are the qualities creator brands strive for. True authenticity, however, happens when these two things align: Your identity and image (that the audience sees).

Now, let’s bring what made Elizabeth so memorable into your world – your creator brand.

Standing up to our own values or learning from feedback is something we already do, without being aware of it at the moment. Odds are, what you’ve put out already – be it content, or brand experience within your services or offers – gives an idea to your audience on who you are, and how you live and breathe as a brand.

No reflection in my book happens without a nice cuppa – so grab your beverage of choice and put on your inspector hat for the following:

  1. Look at your content and entire brand experience. Can you pinpoint the message and intention that each piece or action communicates?
  2. Look at your social media mentions or any other conversations. What do people say about you? What do they ask you? When they tag you, what is the context around it?

You want these two to align. Similar to a visual identity that creates a certain look and feel for brands, your actions and interactions also create a sentiment people perceive, a certain pattern that echoes in your tone of voice and decisions.

If you feel friction, it’s usually a time for a deeper look – or a check-in to figure out your unique voice and values as well as ways to let it trickle down into your business actions and content.

Because, like Elizabeth Bennet, your brand can leave a lasting impression by embodying authenticity and resilience – in whatever form it means to you.

Seeing Through Stories

Navigate the world of brand strategy, every Friday

Every week, I will send you a TV or book character breakdown and what made them iconic – and how you can apply those insights to your creator brand.