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What Are the Reader’s First Impressions of Darcy in the Novel ‘Pride and Prejudice?’

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What are the reader’s first impressions of Darcy in the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice?’
Jane Austen’s self contained life was often reflected in her novels which are inhabited by an array of people including impoverished clerical families, eligible dashing gentlemen and husband hunting women. Marriage, property and intrigue lie at the heart of Pride and Prejudice and Mr Darcy embodies most of these sentiments. The reader’s opinion of Mr Darcy tends to follow that of Elizabeth’s. His transformation in her and our eyes stems partly from the presentation of new information, which suggests her earlier judgments were false, and partly from some observable changes in Mr Darcy’s behaviour.
Our first impressions of Mr Darcy are made all the more significant in impact by the contrasts made between him and Mr Bingley. Initially our hearts flutter at the description of Mr Darcy being ‘fine, tall, with handsome features, and noble mien’ He is both noble and wealthy with a fortune of ten thousand pounds income per annum. The gentlemen pronounce him ‘a fine figure of a man’ and the women declare him to be ‘much handsomer than Mr Bingley.’ Female readers, like the ladies at Netherfield Park are left in no doubt that Mr Darcy is jaw droppingly gorgeous, and then just as now first impressions can count as significant and we are all prepared to swoon at Mr Darcy’s feet.
However whilst the reader is still catching their breath at the handsome vision created that is Mr Darcy, we are reminded never to judge a book by its cover. In sharp contrast to the amiable, charming, easy going Mr Bingley, Mr Darcy’s manner is in complete contrast to his beautiful appearance. ‘What a contrast between him and his friend.’ Darcy carries on to be the very epitome of arrogance and pride. He is decided to be ‘the proudest most disagreeable man in the world.’ Inheritor of the grand Derbyshire estate of Pemberley, Mr Darcy belongs to one of England’s wealthiest and most well-connected families. Darcy arrives in Hertfordshire outwardly contemptuous of the society he finds and infamously dismisses Elizabeth Bennet as ‘not handsome enough to tempt me.’ His manners are discovered to be proud, above his company, and above being pleased with a forbidding, disagreeable countenance.
Later our assessment of his behaviour is mitigated by further knowledge of his character. Mr Darcy describes himself ‘ill-equipped to recommend myself to strangers’ and his offish demeanour could be seen as partially a reflection of his lack of social confidence. He tells Elizabeth that, as an only son, he was ‘allowed, encouraged and almost taught’ to be ‘selfish and overbearing’ by his parents. He obviously suffers in this regard next to his charming and gregarious friend Mr Bingley, with his ‘happy manners’ and ‘lively’ personality.
Later on in the chapters the readers see’s Mr Darcy as more willing to like Elizabeth, he is becoming more accepting. As he starts to become more interested in Elizabeth, leading the reader on to warm up to him, Mr Darcy is later accused of more serious crimes than slighting lonely ladies at balls, however Elizabeth hears of two offences which leave him quite irredeemable in her eyes. However, as the truths of these matters begins to reveal themselves, Elizabeth hears of another side of his character from the mouth of his housekeeper of Pemberley, who speaks of a kind and generous man, devoted particularly to the happiness and wellbeing of his young sister.

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