First Impressions in Pride and Prejudice

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For centuries, first impressions have been an important part of life. When first meeting someone, an opinion is immediately formed. Whether or not these impressions turn out to be true, a first impression can have consequences. In the book Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen many first impressions are made and are often proved wrong. Austen illustrates that first impressions can be misleading using her character Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a positive character, something Austen uses to influence the reader and lead them to believe her initial impressions are accurate. Austen proves that judgements made quickly aren’t always reliable through Elizabeth’s encounters with the characters of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. Through Elizabeth, Austen influences the reader to judge and create a first impression about Fitzwilliam Darcy. Mr. Darcy is first introduced to the reader at the Meryton ball, an ideal place for first impressions to be formed because men and women are dressed up and ready to be judged for their appearance and social status. Austen describes Darcy as “having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend (Mr. Bingley)” (Austen 12). Austen portrays Mr. Darcy as arrogant and supercilious in order to persuade the reader to form a unlikeable first impression of him, only later to redeem him and prove the first impression wrong. Every time Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy the readers opinion of him continues to decline until the views of him are unfavorable. Because Elizabeth’s first impression was unpromising, she continues to view all further interactions with him in a negative light. If she had first judged him in a positive way, she would have viewed other encounters in a favorable way. A quick prejudicial judgement of someone can have negative consequences. The reader first meets Mr. Wickham when Elizabeth sees him one day while in Meryton and immediately forms a good opinion of his character. Elizabeth thinks...
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