Comment on the effect of Wickam on Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice.

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To answer this question you need to consider the function of Wickham as a character in the entire novel. He is a dangerous character in that he combines a pleasing, handsome exterior with charming manners and a complete want of sexual propriety. His first appearance in the novel establishes his pleasing outward aspect: he catches the "attention of every young lady" and possesses a "happy readiness of conversation." Elizabeth is attracted to him and indeed entertains some hope of marriage, as we can see in her ambiguous response to her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, when she decides to warn her of an inappropriate match.

Of course, Wickham and his effect on Lizzie ties in with one of the key themes of the novel: appearances and reality. Wickham in many ways acts as a foil to Darcy. Wickham is overtly attractive and pleasing, yet inwardly despicable. Darcy is the opposite, and it is well worth comparing how Elizabeth reacts to both when she first meets them. She is charmed by Wickham, allowing her prejudice to get the better of her when she hears how he has been "disinherited" by Darcy, whereas she meets Darcy's proud behaviour with unrelenting scorn and anger. Yet, as the novel goes to show, we can not judge on "First Appearances", which interestingly was an earlier title for this work, before Austen chose Pride and Prejudice.