Pride and Prejudice

Misreading of Wickham: Elizabeth's Preoccupation with Darcy

In Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", one of the main characters, Elizabeth boasts, of her ability and skill at discerning character. However, after only her first conversation with Wickham, Elizabeth has already misread Wickham's personality. In the first discourse between Wickham and Elizabeth, Austen subtly reveals that Elizabeth, in actuality, does not have the motivation or the opportunity to study Wickham's character because her mind is focused entirely on Darcy. Although Elizabeth claims that she foolishly misread Wickham, Austen indicates that it is only because of Elizabeth's vanity and hatred for Darcy that she has any positive feelings towards Wickham. Austen also hints at the true nature of Elizabeth's thoughts and her preoccupation with Darcy through the minute details of Elizabeth's conversation, such as the manner in which she switches topics, or the words she uses to respond to Wickham. However, Austen distracts the reader by emphasizing Wickham's physical attributes, and she consistently refers to his countenance, never mentioning his personality. By focusing on Wickham's physical characteristics and revealing that Elizabeth never misread Wickham, Austen downplays the...

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