First Impressions in Pride and Prejudice

Judgments in Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice takes place in England during the 1800's. During this time period, society focused a lot of attention on social encounters through dances and formal gatherings. The culture held the art of being gentlemanlike and well mannered in very high regards, and through this standard, first impressions on individuals became incredibly important.   Austin shows this cultural standard in different ways in her novel to teach the reader that making judgments off of first impressions is immoral and wrong.

In the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to the town of Meryton. They are quick to note that the town is primarily made up of wealthier, proper people, who are quick to judge others based on physical appearance, social status, and possessions. When one is surrounded by a group of people that act a certain way, it is hard to not follow instep. Austin introduces a sense of being judgmental through humor. She uses Mrs. Bennett as her target, and through her dialogue, Austin is able to portray her judgments. When Mrs. Bennett first meets Mr. Bingly, she bases her opinion of him based off only his physical appearance:  

'Oh! My dear, I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome!?’ (pg. 16)   Removing the light humor from the subject, the reader can see the more serious side of Mrs. Bennett’s judgmental side when she becomes determined to have her daughters married to only wealthy men. Because Mr. Bingly fits into this category, Mrs. Bennett cannot help but like him more when the prospect of her daughter Jane marrying him comes into play. 'Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Think of that my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time!' (Pg 15)  In this quote, the reader can see how consumed Mrs. Bennett becomes with the notion of a wealthy man finding interest in one of her...