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 impressions affect relationships, but we also see how the characters in this story experience transformation through their experiences of first impressions, pride and prejudice. ” (Stasio, An Evolutionary Approach to Jane Austen). Ironically enough, Elizabeth realizes “that they had entirely mistaken Mr.
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Darcy’s character” (Austen 219). What at first was a feeling of string repulsion towards one another slowly became a feeling of attraction. As the novel progresses, different events occur that come to the final transformation of Elizabeth’s first impressions. She learns through different sources that Mr. Darcy is not the man she believes him to be; and that most of the rumors she has heard (from Mr. Wickham) are twisted truths. At the end, as the final process of her realization, she says that “…Vanity, not love, has been my folly.
Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession [pride] and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself. ” Austen contrasts the theme of first impression with the relationship that develops at the beginning of the novel between Mr. Bingley and Jane. She develops a relationship based “in a vision of love in which women and men care about each other with a passionate tenderness.
Jane and Bingley have a natural compatibility for one another. ” (Bonaparte, Conjecturing Possibilities) In this relationship, there are no feelings of avarice or greed because "It was generally evident, whenever they met, that he did admire her; and to her it was equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to be very much in love. " (Austen 22). Neither of them was worried with wealth, class or family heritage. On the other hand, Mr. Bingley’s sister, Caroline, and his friend Mr.
Darcy believe that Jane’s family was not high enough in the social ladder and therefore she did not deserve him. They even tried to intervene in their relationship by breaking them up, but at the end they end up marrying each other. There is no doubt that Jane Austen wanted to install a sense of realization regarding first and false impressions in the readers mind. Pride and Prejudice helps society understand how it behaves through real life examples developed by fictional characters such as Jane, Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, etc.
Pride and Prejudice is a sign of protest Austen uses to rebel against her society and its dependence on first impressions. She tries to make us understand that almost always first impressions are wrong. However, she is not implying that society should eliminate them from society, but rather undermine and challenge them because they are not entirely true. WORKS CITED Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001 Bonaparte, Felicia. "CONJECTURING POSSIBILITIES: READING AND MISREADING TEXTS IN JANE AUSTEN'S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Pride and Prejudice. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Web. ;http://content. ebscohost. com/pdf10/pdf/2005/SNV/01Jun05/17682767. pdf? T=P;P=AN;K=17682767;S=R;D=a9h;EbscoContent=dGJyMNHr7ESep644v%2BbwOLCmr0mep7FSrqm4S7OWxWXS;ContentCustomer=dGJyMOzprk%2B2qLZNuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA;. Sherry, James. "Pride and Prejudice: Limits of Society. " Pride and Prejudice. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Web. ;http://content. ebscohost. com/pdf25_26/pdf/1979/SLT/01Sep79/4721658. pdf?
T=P;P=AN;K=4721658;S=R;D=a9h;EbscoContent=dGJyMNHr7ESep644v%2BbwOLCmr0mep7FSrq64TbeWxWXS;ContentCustomer=dGJyMOzprk%2B2qLZNuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA;. Stasio, Michael J. "AN EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO JANE AUSTEN: PREHISTORIC PREFERENCES IN PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. " Pride and Prejudice. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Web. ;http://content. ebscohost. com/pdf19_22/pdf/2007/SNV/01Jun07/25902589. pdf? T=P;P=AN;K=25902589;S=R;D=a9h;EbscoContent=dGJyMNHr7ESep644v%2BbwOLCmr0mep7BSs6u4SbOWxWXS;ContentCustomer=dGJyMOzprk%2B2qLZNuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA;.
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