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Pride And Prejudice

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Breaking the Barriers

A person's outward appearance is the first impression that an individual gives to another. That impression dictates how the spectator analyzes the other's personality and qualities. Since people prejudge others based on their external features, society has created stereotypes in which people are assumed to look and act in a certain manner. This superficial reality has been the basis for how one judges another for a long time. Society is now tricked into believing that a blond is most likely dim-witted, glasses indicate intelligence, good looks signify popularity, and countless more. In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice the characters are deceived into believing that good external attributes represent the same internal qualities. Therefore, instead of having an objective sense of a person's merit, the characters obtain faulty, prejudice impressions and assumptions of the other characters. Without actually knowing Darcy personally, the residents of Derbyshire presume inaccurate qualities about him, while Elizabeth mistakes Wickham for an honest gentleman.

In the society that the Bennets live it is understood that young ladies shall find a man, marry him, and have a family. As a result, all the ladies of Derbyshire are looking for their potential husband. When a new man moves into the area, they are all hoping that he is not only kind and personable, but that they have the opportunity to be introduced to him quickly, hopefully making a good first impression. Mr. Bingley purchases the impressive Netherfield estate and immediately the other townspeople know of his wealth. Mr. Bingley arrives at the ball with another man, Mr. Darcy, who is also instantaneously considered as a potential groom. Mr. Darcy's good commendable appearance is noticed and, "the report [...] within five minutes after his entrance, of having ten thousand a year [...] the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration [...]"(8). Darcy arrives with Bingley, which suggests his own wealth; he is class above the other partygoers, making him more desirable. The townspeople acknowledge the fact that Darcy is handsome and that he has money, as a result they declare him a good person, someone who is courteous. They jump to conclusions, solely on his good-looks. Only after they get to know him personally do they realize his true nature. They assumed good things about Darcy until, "his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity, for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased;' and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance"(8). The ideal groom of a lady during this time would be one who had more money than themselves; they would be in a higher class. Darcy's mannerisms were so impolite that not even his money could make him a good potential husband. The town expected Darcy to be a certain way because he was good-looking,



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