What is Elizabeth’s first impression of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice?
One of the most important themes in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the role of first impressions in shaping the characters’ relationships. In this blog post, we will explore what Elizabeth’s first impression of Mr. Darcy was and how it affected her opinion of him throughout the novel. We will also use some quotes from the novel to illustrate our points.
Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy for the first time at a ball in Meryton, where he accompanies his friend Mr. Bingley, who is interested in Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s elder sister. However, Darcy does not make a good impression on Elizabeth or anyone else in the neighborhood. He is described as “the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped he would never come there again” (Austen 17). He refuses to dance with anyone except Bingley’s sisters and snubs Elizabeth by saying that she is “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me” (Austen 18).
Nineteenth Century Novel
Elizabeth, who is lively, witty and intelligent, is not easily offended by Darcy’s rudeness. Instead, she laughs at his pride and conceit and makes fun of him with her friends. She tells Jane that
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine” (Austen 19).
She also tells Mr. Wickham, a handsome officer who claims to have been wronged by Darcy in the past, that
“I have spent four days in the same house with him, and I think him very disagreeable” (Austen 86).
Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy is so strong that it influences her judgment of him for a long time. She believes Wickham’s lies about Darcy’s character and rejects Darcy’s accusations of Wickham’s dishonesty. She also blames Darcy for separating Jane and Bingley and ruining their happiness. When Darcy proposes to her at Hunsford, she rejects him with scorn and anger, saying that “from the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry” (Austen 226).
However, Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy is not entirely accurate or fair. She does not know that Darcy is shy and reserved by nature and that he does not mean to offend her or anyone else by his behavior. She also does not know that Darcy has a good heart and a sense of honor and that he has done many generous and noble deeds for his family and friends. She learns the truth about him from his letter after his proposal, where he explains his reasons for separating Jane and Bingley and exposes Wickham’s true character. She also sees a different side of him when she visits Pemberley, his estate, where he is polite, friendly and attentive to her and her relatives. She realizes that “he was not the proud man she had supposed him to be” (Austen 287) and that “he had been a fool for thinking ill of him” (Austen 288).
Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy changes gradually as she gets to know him better and as he tries to improve himself for her sake. She admits to herself that “he was really proud; but pride was not his only defect; he was also obstinate; but obstinacy was not his only fault; he had been ill educated; but education had improved him; he was naturally amiable; but circumstances had made him reserved; he had a noble spirit; but pride had made him appear haughty” (Austen 369). She also confesses to her aunt Gardiner that “he has no improper pride; he is perfectly amiable; you do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms” (Austen 372).
By the end of the novel, Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy has completely changed into admiration, respect and love. She accepts his second proposal with joy and gratitude, saying that “you are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever” (Austen 399). She also tells her father that
“I love him better than I do Bingley. I am afraid you will be angry” (Austen 401).
In conclusion, Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy in Pride and Prejudice is a negative one, based on his pride and rudeness. However, as the novel progresses, she learns more about his true character and personality and realizes that he is not what he seemed at first. She changes her opinion of him and falls in love with him, overcoming her own prejudice and pride. This shows that first impressions are not always reliable and that people can change for the better.
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