Elizabeth, as the title of the novel indicates, develops a prejudice against Mr. Darcy after overhearing him say she isn't pretty enough to tempt him to ask her for a dance. She finds him a proud and disagreeable man, as do most of her neighbors. She has been insulted, as any young woman would be, and finds it difficult to get over this first, negative, impression.
Mr. Wickham, however, is charming to Elizabeth during their first meeting, as well as being very handsome. He focuses attention on her and makes her feel attractive. When he begins to complain about Mr. Darcy treating her unfairly, this fits in with the impression of Mr. Darcy she has already received. Mr. Darcy already seems to her to be a person who is harsh and unfair, and Wickham seems sensitive and agreeable.
Today, we call this confirmation bias. We are often eager to find confirmation for what we already "know" to be true rather than to have our knowledge challenged. Elizabeth is already biased against Mr. Darcy, and...
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