Posted on March 2, 2015 by Regina Jeffers • Comment by hitting link above!
By Regina Jeffers
Recently, I was writing a scene for an upcoming Austen release, and in it, I attempted to explain Elizabeth Bennet’s lack of “hatred” for George Wickham. Even after having read “Pride and Prejudice” well over 50 times during my lifetime, I found myself sadly lacking in this endeavour for I held no idea what Elizabeth really thought of Mr. Wickham. Certainly, Pride and Prejudice is told from Elizabeth’s point of view, and we are quite inundated with the alteration of her feelings for Mr. Darcy, but what of Mr. Wickham? I went searching for proof within the novel itself, and for better or worse, this is what I discovered.
First, it is a given that without Mr. Wickham’s deceptions, our favorite couple might not have discovered each other. However, let us revisit the scene where Elizabeth takes Mr. Wickham’s acquaintance:
But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with an officer on the other side of the way. The officer was the very Mr. Denny, concerning whose return from London Lydia came to inquire, and he bowed as they passed. All were struck with the stranger’s air, all wondered who he could be; and Kitty and Lydia, determined if possible to find out, led the way across the street, under pretence of wanting something in an opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two gentlemen, turning back, had reached the same spot. Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and he was happy to say had accepted a commission in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only regimentals to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address.
Then there is the scene where Wickham studies Darcy’s reaction to encountering him with Elizabeth upon the streets of Meryton.
The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation — a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming; and the whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably, when the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street. On distinguishing the ladies of the group the two gentlemen came directly towards them, and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and Miss Bennet the principal object. He was then, he said, on his way to Longbourn on purpose to inquire after her. Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and Elizabeth, happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour; one looked white, the other red. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat — a salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned to return. What could be the meaning of it? — It was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long to know.
Elizabeth’s account of the incident is quite exquisite, but what was she thinking of Darcy at that moment? Of Wickham? And more importantly, did Wickham possess the wherewithal to note Darcy’s attention to Elizabeth? Likely, Wickham knows Darcy better than many of Darcy’s acquaintances, except perhaps Colonel Fitzwilliam. In hindsight, we all realize Wickham is a master manipulator, especially of Darcy.
I do not know about you, but I have often wondered if Wickham’s appearance in Meryton was coincidental. Perhaps, Wickham and Mr. Denny held an acquaintance in London. Mayhap, in passing, Denny mentioned dining with Mr. Bingley and Darcy and the other officers. “My brother and the gentleman are to dine with the officers.” – from Caroline Bingley.