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The Impact of First Impressions - Pride and Prejudice

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The Impact of First Impressions Prior to publication, Jane Austen titled her novel Pride and Prejudice as First Impressions. Interestingly, first impressions are not the most important aspect of this influential piece of literature. Rather, the concept that these first impressions were entirely incorrect, and the damage they caused in the novel, is. Within the lines of Pride and Prejudice, first impressions teach the characters, mainly Elizabeth Bennet, to learn before judging. The wrongdoings of first impressions are most obvious within the relationships of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, George Wickham and Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet, and the reader and Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Unlike many other tales of love, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet did not look into each other's eyes and fall deeply in love. On the contrary, Darcy looked into Elizabeth's eyes and told Charles Bingley, "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me" (Austen, 7). The distaste between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy derived from the ball at Meryton. Without an introduction or conversation, Elizabeth also judged Darcy early and decided "[Darcy] was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world..." (Austen, 6). Later Elizabeth would find out, though, that Mr. ...read more.


You have withheld the advantages, which you must know to have been designed for him. You have deprived him the best years of his life, of that independence which was no less in his due than his desert. You have done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule'" (Austen, 131). Elizabeth fumed at Darcy; she was enraged how nonchalantly Darcy threw Wickham to the streets. In Darcy's letter to Elizabeth, though, the truth once again freed itself from a tangle of lies. Darcy shined light on Wickham's trickery, and the devastation he brought to the Darcy family. Shocked, Elizabeth lost all love and respect for the fake Wickham, knowing once again she misjudged. Once more, first impressions fooled Elizabeth - a mistake that nearly jeopardized her and Darcy's relationship. Similar to the Wickham fiasco, Elizabeth thought too highly of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins, an asinine, garrulous man of no significant societal status, but a "name-dropper" nevertheless, described Lady de Bourgh as a bighearted, wealthy, generous and compassionate woman who accepted him into her social clique, for which he was extremely grateful. Upon meeting Lady Catherine de Bourgh, though, Elizabeth decided, "Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them, such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. ...read more.


These outlooks are much different from the beginning Elizabeth, who found social standing frivolous and silly, and Darcy an arrogant pig. Similarly, the relationship between the reader and Darcy changed and grew, as did his character. Mr. Darcy lived up to Elizabeth's description of him while at the Meryton ball. Up until exclaiming his zealous love for her, Darcy came off as an arrogant and proud snob. However, after realizing the emotional pain he caused Elizabeth, Darcy set their differences aside and did anything and everything in his power to win her over, including risking his social stature to assist in the marriage of Mary Bennet and George Wickham. Clearly, Darcy set his pride and prejudices aside for the woman he loved. From the first page, the characters of Pride and Prejudice judged others based on their first impressions. This includes Mrs. Bennet, who wanted one of her daughters to marry Charles Bingley purely because of his wealth and social stature. Proven by the relationships Elizabeth Bennet has with Fitzwilliam Darcy, George Wickham, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as well as the relationship the reader has with Elizabeth and Darcy, first impressions are not always, if ever, correct. Essentially, one must base his or her opinions of another based upon that other's actions. After all, actions speak louder than words. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alexis Sachdev English 11 Honors 8/31/2008 1 ...read more.

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