What Role Do First Impressions Play in Pride and Prejudice?

Aug 3, 2018 in Literature

Being not happy in her personal life, Jane Austen still stays one of the most famous novelists in the English literature, whose works are filled with the powerful pure feeling of love. Austen wrote several novels only, but all of them are great examples of the English classic literature. During her life, all Austen’s novels were published anonymously. Only in few years, when women were given more rights for their own activities and life, the world became aware of the talented author of those passionate love stories.

One of her most famous works is Pride and Prejudice. It is a novel about the Bennett’s family that tells a story if of the mother of this family who was desperately trying to marry all her daughters to some rich young men. Mostly the story is focused on the romantic storylines between Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennett, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and Lydia Bennett and the soldier Mr. Wickham. As the story follows, the readers became aware about every daughter of Bennett’s family and Elizabeth in particular. The author tells the story of every girl’s fate: both life and love adventures. Readers get acquainted with life in contemporary England and traditions of the English families. Austen reveals her ideas about what is called ‘real love’ in this novel. Once Jane Austen herself said that her works were stories of three or four common village families. Nevertheless, the question is whether the first impressions in the novel are of any particular importance. It is necessary to mention that there is an interesting fact about Pride and Prejudice, which is unknown to many readers: the first title of the novel was exactly The First Impressions. It is true to say that  the first impressions play an extremely important role in the novel.

As the story begins, almost each character of the novel faces the feeling of pride and assumptions of the first impressions, although some of them are changing along with the main heroes throughout the whole story. From the beginning of the novel, readers get acquainted with  the society of those days and its desire, which is mostly focused on money and status. This is especially true to the mother of the Bennett’s family. Every reader can see how obsessed she is with Mr. Bingley’s coming and her wish to marry every daughter. Miss Bennett does not care about her daughters’ happiness, but mostly she is interested in how wealthy and respected the future husband is. In several following chapters after the Bennett’s family introduction, readers get aware of these mysterious and eagerly expected guests. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, for example, are the best friends, wealthy men, and yet both have so different tempers. For instance, Mr. Bingley is a very friendly and shy man despite his richness, while Mr. Darcy seems to be his antipode.

These characteristics of the two men create Elizabeth’s first impression of them. For example, the first impression that Elizabeth got about Mr. Darcy was that he was an arrogant, pride, and rude man. However, with the narrative’s going, her opinion about Mr. Darcy changes completely. Although Elizabeth’s opinion about Darcy has been reasoned and clearly described since their first meeting, her opinion about other characters, including her sisters and parents, were not so predictable and transparent. The girl was very honest with her judgements about Mr. Collins and how silly his self-serving was, as well as about Lady Catherine and her arrogant, snobbish temper. In her romantic choices, Elizabeth’s first impressions were often false ones. For instance, her first impression about Mr. Wickham, a soldier: she thought he was the real gentleman, who was offended by rich and rude Mr. Darcy. How surprised and almost angry Elizabeth was when she found out the true story that happened between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham in their past. Even more interesting is the ending of the whole novel, especially the moment, when everyone of the Bennett’s family became aware of the feelings between Elizabeth, who seemed to hate Mr. Darcy previously, and Mr. Darcy who seemed to be the rude man with pride. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice – that what made the whole story.

The first impressions in the novel Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen are mostly ironic and deceitful. From the beginning of it, Mr. Darcy considered Elizabeth and her family not worthy his attention. Every time the man interacts with Elizabeth, he is trying to mock or tease her while Elizabeth considers him a cold and arrogant man, who is also not worthy her attention. The ironic thing about this couple is that, in the end of the novel, they fell in love with each other and get married, that is an unexpected turn for the readers. The deceitful thing of the first impressions in the story is described when Mr. Darcy made his opinion about Jane that her feelings to his best friend were false; when Jane seemed to be a very shy girl; when Mr. Collins made his opinion about Elizabeth and considered her his future wife (while it was clear that Elizabeth was an inappropriate match for him); when Mr. Wickham seemed to be a gentleman, but turned to be the corrupt, and full of nothing but lies man.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest novels in the English literature. It is not just a piece of writing about romantic feelings; it is also the novel about the role of first impressions in the everyday life and  relationships. Therefore, it is a right thing to consider Jane Austen as one of the greatest women–writers in the world classic literature.

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