First "Misleading" Impressions

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Cypress Ranch High School
Ms. Piotrowsky
3rd Period
English K/Dual
First “Misleading” Impression

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice the most common and concurrent theme is probably the theme of first impression. The entire novel, from beginning to end, travels around conclusions made from first impressions and how, in cases, they are wrong. In fact, the first proposition for the title of the novel was First Impressions not Pride and Prejudice. As the theme of the novel progresses, characters realize that their conclusions made based on first impressions were flawed. As this happens, new relationships develop. Jane Austen even makes the reader believe or create its own first impressions only to later realize that they were wrong.

During this time period, the idea of wealth and class was predominant among society; therefore, most first impressions were based on the amount of money a person had or on his/her ancestry. The main theme of first impressions goes around “Elizabeth, the heroine, and Darcy, her eventual husband, the chief obstacle resides in the book’s original title: First Impressions.” (Sherry, Pride and Prejudice limits of society) At the ball, Mr. Bingley encourages Mr. Darcy to dance with Elizabeth but he refuses by stating, “she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt him” (Austen 13); and Elizabeth’s first impression about Mr. Darcy is that “ he is proud, above his company, and above being pleased” (Austen 17). The reader understands that physical appearance is not the only factor that drives Mr. Darcy towards that opinion, but her lack of wealth and her vast family are.

Throughout the novel the reader experiences realizations and transformations of views. At first Austen makes the reader create false impressions, just as the characters in the novel, only to later realize that the opinions the reader had about the characters were flawed. Many critics agree that “…In this novel by Jane Austen, we don’t only see how first...
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