Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Start Free Trial

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, what causes Mr. Wickham to lose interest in Elizabeth?

Wickham's pursuit of Elizabeth and Mary King are shown to have been motivated by financial gain. His attraction to Lydia and his agreement to marry her were motivated by Darcy's willingness to pay the debts he had incurred in the army in return for agreeing to marry her.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Wickham is solely interested in acquiring money. He blew the opportunities Darcy's father gave him for financial security, first by rejecting the opportunity to be clergyman of the parish on the Pemberley estate and then by squandering the money Darcy gave him to study law. Wickham may have been attracted to Elizabeth upon first meeting her, but when he learned that her father's estate was entailed and that she had no fortune he immediately turned his attentions to Miss Mary King, whose grandfather's death left her £10,000 (Ch. 4, Vol. 2). Wickham's attachment to Miss King was abruptly ended when her uncle whisked her away to the safety of Liverpool (Ch. 16, Vol. 2). Wickham is then pursued by Lydia. When he leaves the regiment due to his debts, Lydia follows him. Wickham tells Darcy that he had no intention of marrying Lydia because he still hoped to marry someone richer. However, Darcy was willing to pay Wickham's debts to blackmail him into marrying Lydia in order to save Elizabeth's reputation, so Wickham agreed to marry her (Ch. 10, Vol. 3).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team