Pride and Prejudice: an analysis of Mr. Wickham's character
To begin with, Wickham appears to have a good social etiquette which impresses the reader and Elizabeth, “Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned”. Wickham makes a firm first impression and he appears to be amiable with a friendly disposition. “His appearance was greatly in favour…fine countenance…very pleasing address”, Wickham instantly takes Elizabeth’s favour and he seems a deferent character.
Wickham is clever enough to encourage Elizabeth into thinking ill of Darcy by initially forming a trust with her and as Lizzy already dislikes him, it is easy for her to believe Wickham, “I have known him (Darcy) too long and too well to be a fair judge.
It is impossible for me to be impartial”…”ill-tempered man”. The reader is intrigued into Wickham’s opinion of him initially due to his social intelligence, his amiability and his first impressions to the town.
Wickham continues to make Elizabeth think ill of Mr.
Darcy by making himself seem the victim of the series of events between the two men. Wickham: “I cannot accuse myself of having really done anything to deserve to lose it…he hates me.” Due to the trust the reader and Lizzy have in Wickham, his story is accepted and we succumb to the claims he makes. Lizzy shows her naivety by immediately believing the story and replying “He deserves to be publicly disgraced!”
Wickham’s character begins to be doubted in chapter eighteen when Darcy says “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends – whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.” However, as Darcy appears to us as such an ill-mannered character, we are unsure whether to believe him. His character is further doubted when Miss Bingley complains about Wickham to Elizabeth, “George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner…Mr. Darcy is not in the least to blame.” Lizzy and the reader start to doubt their initial appraisal of Wickham as his likeable character far outweighs his shortcomings.
Elizabeth shows her fond feelings towards Wickham by discovering that he is interested in the acquaintance of Miss King for merely the £10,000 by saying “I should at present detest his very name…my feelings are not only cordial towards him.” The reader now sees Wickham’s bad intentions and how Lizzy is too fooled by his charm to see it.
Wickham’s bad character is finally confirmed in Darcy’s letter explaining Wickham’s purposes at length, “he had some intentions of studying law…his life was full of idleness and dissipation…(Georgiana) was persuaded to believe herself in love, and to consent to an elopement…Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sister’s fortune.” Wickham is instantly seen for what he really is; superficial, deceitful and selfish with no concern for the damage he causes by his desire for pecuniary gain and greed. He masks his true character from Elizabeth and the reader and shows his true character of depravity.
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