First impressions are crucial. They make —or break— the start of a relationship, or give an idea of what individual values along with their attitude toward certain subjects. Whether or not the impressions of another is liable, a first impression can have consequences. This is no exception in Pride and Prejudice, save for Elizabeth’s first impression of characters: Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. Who leads her to be deceived by their true nature, one of kindness and nobility, and the other vile and despicable evil.
This discovery of her prejudice sparks a renewed understanding in Elizabeth; that she cannot always trust her first opinion of others and her first impression can be misleading.
The Novel shows that judgments made quickly are not always reliable, through Elizabeth’s encounters with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham.
Through Elizabeth the reader judges and creates its first impression about Darcy. He is described as, “Having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend,” (12).
The first interaction between Darcy and Elizabeth is made at the Meryton Ball when Bingley requests that Darcy dances with her. Darcy’s pride is engaged when he comments that Elizabeth is not “handsome enough for him” (10). Bingley states that every one of the young ladies is attractive. Darcy demands that only jane is beautiful.
In the wake of hearing Darcy’s offending remark, Elizabeth starts to hold resentment against Darcy. It is not just his pride that leads Elizabeth to think ill of Darcy, but the prejudice she has against him for the lies that Whickham told her.
It is that pride and the prejudice of Darcy that causes Elizabeth to have such a disdain for Darcy. Even though Darcy presents himself as someone who is consumed by his pride, he is just shy and does not know how to react to a room filled with a large number of people he does not know. His arrogant behavior is his way of coping with his shyness. This is proven as the Novel progresses Elizabeth Learns that Darcy loves her as he asks her to marriage, “In Vain have I struggled…My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I love you,” (178).
Elizabeth is seen to be in shock; she cannot understand why someone as “evil” as Mr. Darcy would ask for her hand in marriage. She cannot believe that Darcy would have the audacity to propose even after keeping Jane and Bingley away from each other. After Darcy reveals who Whickham really is to Elizabeth, she cannot help but doubt him because of their previous encounters, but when Whickham decides to leave Lydia, Darcy bribes Whickham into marrying her. This causes Elizabeth to see Darcy in a different light, as she realizes that her judgment of both characters is entirely wrong.
Whickham is first perceived to be a gentleman by all. His good looks and gentleman-like manner fools everyone, even Elizabeth who prides herself on being able to figure people out. Elizabeth believes everything Mr. Wickham says about Darcy, due to her inclined prejudice against Mr. Darcy.