Jane is the eldest and most beautiful daughter. She gets her beauty from her mother, who being the dominant partner in the marriage places her physical imprint on the first child. Jane lacks energy, strength or depth. She neither has the benefit of her father’s training nor the physical urges of an idiot mother. Her mother’s beauty makes her popular, especially as she had no pronounced mental attitudes that can offend.
Jane is an unformed character who lives on the mere surface of society, expending all her energy to maintain a pleasant external behavior and positive disposition. Her behavior is a reaction to the embarrassing vulgarity of her mother, but at the same level. Her father’s influence appears in her determination to behave exactly opposite to her mother’s middle class vulgarity in every respect, being quite, genteel and pleasing at all times. She exercises whatever strength she has not to be bad, evil or shamelessly dynamic. Mrs. Bennet’s weak nerves and uncontrollable behavior express in Jane as timidity.
She has developed no mental energies that come from an idealistic mind. Her undynamic ethics prevent her from ambition. She initiates no acts and attracts no luck or karma, as there is no energy of personality. She behaves as a kind of observer of the world and her own future and allows life to take initiative on her behalf. Jane is unintelligent and incapable of forming strong opinions. She casts all her opinions in a non-controversial, social mould. She is powerfully attracted by men who are equally unintelligent, incapable of action, or even strong opinions.
Jane has genuine goodwill for Elizabeth. Her first words after Bingley’s proposal to her were “Why is not everybody as happy?” Again to Elizabeth, “If I could but see you as happy!” Elizabeth understands that Jane’s happiness issues not from her good fortune but from her goodness. “Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.” Jane is always guided silently by Elizabeth. Elizabeth takes full interest in her and brings luck to her, sharing a portion of her own luck with Jane.
See also Jane's Equanimity
P&P refers to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1980