Mr. Bennet, a genteel country rector, has five daughters and a wife with a singular ambition: to find them suitable husbands. It won't be easy though, as their dowries are not large.
The arrival of two rich, young bachelors in the neighborhood, Charles Bingley, and his friend Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, leads to the possibility of a promising union between the Bennet's eldest daughter Jane and Bingley. The Bennet's second daughter, the witty Elizabeth, seems less impressed by Darcy, who is also hardly tempted by her. Ultimately, Darcy's interest in Elizabeth grows, but is then rebuffed, leaving both romantic liaisons seemingly in ruin.
Months later, an unexpected encounter between Darcy and Elizabeth ignites interest on both sides until a Bennet family scandal puts the future in peril. Darcy holds a secret about the scandal, but can he now make it right and show his love for Elizabeth?
Two rich, eligible, and handsome young bachelors gallop into Hertfordshire and into the lives of every hopeful, young maiden and her ambitious mother in the neighborhood. Mr. Bingley has bought Netherton Park, and has brought his sister and very wealthy friend, Mr. Darcy, with him. To Mrs. Bennet at Longbourn House, they are the answer to her prayers. She has five daughters to marry, and their dowries are not large.
The Bennet girls get their chance to meet Mr. Bingley and his guests at a local Assembly Room ball in Meryton. Mr. Bingley is immediately attracted to Jane, the eldest Bennet daughter. Darcy considers the entire gathering beneath him and refuses to dance. Elizabeth Bennet overhears him saying that she is "tolerable" but "not handsome enough to tempt" him. They meet again at a party held by Sir William Lucas, the father of Charlotte, Elizabeth's closest friend. The party is to welcome Colonel Forster's regiment, which will be wintering at Meryton, much to the delight of the younger Bennet girls. Again, Mr. Bingley seems most taken with Jane, while Elizabeth has the opportunity of taking revenge on Darcy by refusing to dance with him.
Jane is invited to dine with Miss Bingley at Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet insists she rides there and, just as she hoped, Jane is forced to stay at Netherfield, having caught a fever from being drenched by rain on the way there. Elizabeth visits her sister and decides she needs nursing. This again throws her into Darcy's company, but while her opinion of him remains unchanged, he is beginning to admire her wit and vivacity. Finally, Jane is well enough to return home, but no before the young Bennet girls have persuaded Mr. Bingley to hold a ball at Netherfield.
The Bennets have a visitor — their clergyman cousin, who will inherit the estate, as Mr. Bennet has no son. Mr. Collins is coming to Longbourn with the intention of healing the rift between his branch of the family and theirs. And as his grand patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has advised him to marry, Mr. Collins has decided to choose one of the Bennet girls. Mrs. Bennet is delighted, and tells him that though she expects Jane soon to be engaged, Elizabeth is available. Unfortunately, Elizabeth and the rest of the family hold him in utter contempt.
Meanwhile, Lydia and Kitty Bennet are still flirting outrageously with the army officers billeted in Meryton. A new recruit, George Wickham, delights everyone with his charm, good looks, and gentlemanly behavior — especially Elizabeth. When she and Wickham meet again at her aunt's supper party, he tells her that he and Darcy grew up together (his father was the late Mr. Darcy's steward). Elizabeth's prejudice against Darcy grows as she hears that he ignored his late father's wishes to provide a valuable church living for Wickham.
The day of the Netherfield ball arrives and all the local gentry have been invited. Elizabeth is disappointed not to see Wickham. She is looking particularly fine and, despite her mother and her younger sisters' appalling behavior, Darcy asks her for a dance. It is not a success. Elizabeth is furious about the treatment of Wickham.
The next day, Mr. Collins proposes. Elizabeth rejects him, to the consternation of her mother, and the relief of her father.
Elizabeth is shocked when, less than three days after Mr. Collin's proposal to her, he becomes engaged to her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte cannot afford to be fussy, and Mr. Collins is a good catch, but she begs Elizabeth to visit them at Hunsford Parsonage in March.
Shortly after, Jane receives a letter from Miss Bingley. The whole Netherfield party has left for London, with no intention of returning. It is now nearly Christmas, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner (Mrs. Bennet's brother and sister-in-law) arrive from London for a visit. They all attend a party at Colonel Philips' house in Meryton. Wickham is there and Elizabeth finds herself increasingly attracted to him. Jane, meanwhile, is trying hard not to show she is still pining for Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth suggests that she accompanies their aunt and uncle back to London. In London, Jane calls to see Miss Bingley, but it is soon very clear that she is not Jane's friend.
Spring arrives, and Wickham is now courting Miss King, and her fortune of 10,000 pounds. He calls on Elizabeth before she leaves to visit Charlotte. She is disappointed in him but they part as friends. Life at the Hunsford parsonage is much as she expects, with her friend spending as little time as possible in the company of Mr. Collins. They are all invited to Rosings Park, where Elizabeth is delighted to find Darcy's aunt to be a proud, imperious woman, and the girl she intends for his bride a mouse with no spirit. For her part, Lady Catherine is astonished by Elizabeth's intelligence and repartee,
Unexpectedly, Mr. Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, arrive to visit their aunt. Elizabeth encounters the Colonel during a walk in the woods. He tells her that Darcy congratulates himself for having recently saved his friend Bingley from a most imprudent marriage. Upset and angry, that evening she pleads a headache as an excuse not to visit Rosings and is brooding alone at the parsonage when Darcy interrupts her. He has been fighting a losing battle over his feelings for Elizabeth, but now is the worst possible time to propose.
Darcy is astonished at his rejection and writes Elizabeth a letter, defending his actions. The contents leave her reeling. Wickham, far from being the injured party, is a loose-living scoundrel. He had turned down the offer of a comfortable living in the church and had received 5,000 pounds in compensation. Worse, he had tried to elope with Georgiana, Darcy's 15-year-old sister, an heiress worth 30,000 pounds.
Back at Longbourn, Elizabeth and Jane decide not to warn their friends about Wickham, as Darcy's sister cannot be exposed, and the militia in moving to Brighton. Lydia, the youngest Bennet, is invited to Brighton to stay with Colonel Forster's wife. She is far too heedless and headstrong, thinks Elizabeth, who worries that she may do something to ruin her reputation, but her father is confident that she will be chaperoned and, besides, he wants some peace and quiet.
Summer arrives, and Elizabeth is on a tour of Derbyshire with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. While they are there, they decide to visit Pemberley, Darcy's estate. Informed that the family is away from home, Elizabeth allows her curiosity full rein. They are escorted around by the housekeeper, who has nothing but praise for Darcy. This is a very different picture to the haughty, disagreeable man Elizabeth knows. Meanwhile, Darcy decides to pay a surprise visit to Pemberley, and arrives while she is inside the house. After a refreshing swim in the lake, he is walking back to the house, half-dressed, when he chances upon Elizabeth who is exploring the park.
The following day, the Bingleys and Georgiana (Darcy's sister) arrive at Pemberley. Soon after, they call upon Elizabeth, who is staying nearby at the inn in Lambton. Georgiana invites Elizabeth and the Gardiners to Pemberley for dinner the following evening. Elizabeth and Georgiana are taking turns at the piano, when Caroline Bingley spitefully tries to disconcert Elizabeth with a reference to Wickham. Georgiana falters at the piano, obviously distressed, but Elizabeth comes to her rescue, earning Darcy's gratitude. Things are definitely heating up between Elizabeth and Darcy, and there are long, lingering looks across the room.
The next day, however, while her aunt and uncle are out for a walk, Elizabeth receives two letters from Jane. They contain alarming news. Foolish Lydia has eloped with Wickham, and it is doubtful whether he has any intention of marrying her. The only clue to their whereabouts is that they may be hiding in London. Elizabeth is still in shock when Darcy arrives for a visit. He dispatches a servant to find her aunt and uncle, but receives her news with grim silence. He leaves shortly thereafter, and Elizabeth realizes that her sister's elopement has brought disgrace to her whole family. Just as she has fallen in love with him, she is convinced she will never see him again.
At Longbourn, Elizabeth finds the house in an uproar: Mrs. Bennet is fretting noisily in her room, Kitty is defiant, apparently having known of Lydia's plans, and Mr. Bennet has gone to London in search of the runaways. Then Mr. Collins arrives, full of false sympathy. When Elizabeth finds out that he has told Lady Catherine de Bourgh about Lydia, she gets rid of him before she loses her temper. Mr. Bennet finally returns from London. The search for Lydia has been fruitless.
Unknown to anyone, Darcy is also searching for the errant couple, and tracks them to a squalid inn in London. A few days later, Mr. Bennet receives a letter from Mr. Gardiner: Wickham will marry Lydia, on certain conditions. The terms of the engagement are much lighter than expected, leading Mr. Bennet to believe that Mr. Gardiner has paid Wickham a great deal of money to bring about the marriage. However, can Mr. Bennet repay him?
Wickham and his new wife visit Longbourn before joining Wickham's new regiment in the North. Lydia is as silly as ever, and accidentally lets slip that Darcy was at her wedding. Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner for an explanation, and is amazed to discover that Darcy not only found Wickham, but also bribed him to marry Lydia, and turned up at the church to ensure he did so. He also insisted that his part in the affair be kept quiet.
Time passes, and the Bennet family scandal is forgotten and Jane and Elizabeth are resigned to never seeing Mr. Bingley or Mr. Darcy again. They are mistaken. Bingley is hosting a shooting party at Netherfield and the gentleman call at Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet contrives to leave Jane alone with Mr. Bingley. He proposes, she accepts, and everyone is blissfully happy, expect Elizabeth. Darcy has hardly spoken to her, so she is unprepared for a visit by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has been informed that Elizabeth will soon marry Darcy, and has come to forbid the union. A few days later, Darcy returns from London. He has heard of Elizabeth's argument with his aunt, and it has given him hope. And this time, his proposal is accepted. After a double wedding, Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Darcy drive away in their carriages, to live happily ever after.