Pride and Prejudice

by: Jane Austen

First Impressions

1
His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped he would never come there again.

This quote shows how Darcy made a bad impression when he first met the Bennet sisters. At the same time, it also shows how quickly individuals can make snap judgments. A single occasion does not fully shed light on Darcy’s character, and yet after a single ball everyone rushes to judge him. They also misinterpret his shy and introverted behavior as evidence that he is stuck up and unfriendly. Even though Darcy has a great deal of wealth and social status, his personality still leads to him being widely disliked.

2
Oh! You are a great deal too apt you know, to like people in general. You never see fault in anybody.

This quote is playfully spoken by Elizabeth to Jane. Elizabeth accuses Jane of being naïve and forgiving and implies that her own judgment is more accurate. The quote later proves to be ironic when it becomes clear that Elizabeth does not actually have very good judgment and is often mistaken in her judgments about character. Jane’s willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best helps her to reconcile, whereas Elizabeth’s tendency to judge more harshly and then be unforgiving comes close to costing her happiness.

3
But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with an officer on the other side of the way.

This is the reaction of the female characters the first time they see Wickham. Although they do not know anything about Wickham’s character or history, they are distracted by his handsome appearance. They assume his good looks must also mean he is a good person. In light of what is later revealed about Wickham, the quote shows how appearances can be deceiving and can lead to false assumptions.

4
I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created.

Elizabeth speaks this quote to Darcy when she is trying to fish for information about his history with Wickham. She is implying criticism both about his stubbornness once he has formed an impression of someone and also that he is likely quick to judge. While she is criticizing Darcy for these traits, Elizabeth shows a lack of self-awareness, because she is also very quick to make up her mind—and then can be very stubborn about changing it. The quote works to show that the two of them are actually quite similar and therefore compatible.

5
As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of enquiring. His countenance, voice and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue.

This quote shows Elizabeth realizing that she has been completely wrong in her understanding of Wickham. She has assumed based on his good looks and charm that he was a good person, and once she made up her mind, she did not ever go back and question her original assumptions. In fact, she ignored evidence that suggested Wickham might have a shady past. This moment is very important in that it forces Elizabeth to learn that outward appearance and inner character are not the same thing.