Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Essential Quotes by Theme: First Impressions

Essential Passage 1: Book 1, Chapter 18

“I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave—that your resentment, once created, was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created?”
“I am,” said he, with a firm voice.
“And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?”
“I hope not.”
“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion to be secure of judging properly at first.”

Summary

Mr. Bingley at last holds a ball at Netherfield. Elizabeth had hoped there to see Wickham, in whom she finds some appeal, but he has not attended. Elizabeth blames Darcy for Wickham's absence and tells him why: years ago, Darcy maliciously denied Wickham the rectorship he had been promised by Darcy’s father. Confronted with this accusation, Darcy gives Elizabeth his opinion, which is that Wickham is dishonest, manipulative, and corrupt. Elizabeth reminds Darcy of his prior claim that once having formed an impression of a person, he never changes it. She asks him if he is thus blinded by the prejudice of his first impression, but Darcy denies this. Elizabeth then says that if one never changes a first impression, one had better make sure it is correct to begin with. Darcy still rejects Wickham’s interpretation of events, and in this he is backed up by Miss Bingley. However, since Elizabeth has already decided on her own first impressions—namely, that Darcy and Miss Bingley are prideful—she decides to believe Wickham because her impression of him is more favorable.

Essential Passage 2: Book 2, Chapter 11

“From the very beginning, from the first moment, I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

Summary

Elizabeth arrives at Charlotte Lucas’s new home for the first time since Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins. As rector, he is a sycophant to Lady Catherine de Bourgh and goes to visit her often. Elizabeth avoids these encounters as much as she can. On one occasion when she is at home alone in the parsonage, Darcy comes to pay a visit. Recently, Elizabeth had detected a sad tone in Jane's letters, knowing it is because her sister has lost Mr. Bingley due to Mr. Darcy's interference. When Darcy unexpectedly confesses his love to Elizabeth, she gives vent to her anger. From their very first meeting, Darcy has made it clear that he has little regard for Elizabeth and her family. He has been the cause of sadness for Jane and has tried to alter Elizabeth's own opinion of Wickham. The fact that Darcy is now reluctantly proposing marriage strikes her as preposterous, and she tells him that he is that last man she would ever consent to marry. Darcy, angered at her refusal but repressing his emotions, leaves her.

Essential Passage 3: Book 2, Chapter 12

From that moment I observed my friend's behavior attentively; and I could then perceive that his partiality for Miss Benet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him. Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard; and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny, that though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by participation of sentiment. If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in an error. Your superior knowledge of your sister must make the latter probable. If it be so, if I have been misled by such error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall not scruple to assert that the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such as might have given the most acute observer a...

(The entire section is 1,383 words.)