How does the famous opening of the novel prepare us for what follows? (Does it prepare or mis-prepare us, or both, and why?)
Does the famous first line provide forshadowing of the coming events in the novel and give the reader a brief view about the main theme of the book?
The first sentence of Jane Austen's novel is not only witty and graceful but establishes the theme of the entire book. The story is all about young unmarried women looking for husbands who will be able to provide for them and about older women who are on the lookout for husbands for their daughters and nieces. The women know a great deal about every available man's income and prospects. The main target is the tall, dark, handsome, arrogant Mr. Darcy, who is also the wealthiest unmarried man of all. He actually does seem to be "in want of a wife," but he has so many young women to choose from that the competition is intense. The young women are also interested in clothing, visiting, and social functions, because these are means to meet and hopefully attract unmarried men. The heroine manages to enchant Mr. Darcy mainly, it would seem, through the simple strategy of pretending not to be the least bit interested in him. She triumphs over all her other female competitors in this Cinderella story and presumably lives happily ever after.