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|Deception in Ch. 35-36: Wickham (long)
Written by Connie
(5/5/2010 11:09 a.m.)
Darcy begins by saying that his father was deceived by Wickham's character, but Darcy himself, as Wickham's playmate and companion, was not. He suspects that Lizzy may be in love with Wickham as an explanation for her prejudice against Darcy.
We learn that, rather than willing Wickham a living, Mr. Darcy, Sr. asked his son in his will to promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow. Darcy gladly gave Wickham L3000 in lieu of the living, wishing rather than believing him sincere in wanting to take up the law as a career.
Darcy was deceived in Mrs. Younge's character, who had a former association of some kind with Wickham. Georgianna was persuaded to believe herself in love with Wickham, but could not keep the elopement secret from her brother. She seems to share Darcy's honest temperament. Darcy decided against public exposure of Wickham for his sister's sake. This echoes Wickham's insincere statement that he would not expose Darcy publicly, due to repect for Darcy, Sr.
At first Lizzy wished to discredit [the explanation] entirely... For a few moments, she flatted herself that her wishes did not err. But her prejudice soon begins to slip away, against her will. She could remember no substantial good that Wickham had done to establish his character. It was his manner that had made her believe him.
She realizes now how low his attentions to Miss King had been. Where earlier Lizzy had been convinced that Wickham would have chosen herself if she had had money, she now thinks he was either just gratifying his vanity in his attentions to her, or had been deceived with regard to her fortune. I think it's fortunate for Lizzy that she was not an heiress, or she may have ended up as Wickham's wife!
Lizzy realizes that she had never seen anything unprincipled or unjust in Darcy's behavior that would corroborate Wickham's story. Darcy's friend Bingley had given Darcy a strong character reference when he could do no more, but Lizzy had dismissed it. Col. Fitzwilliam, a sensible and respectable man, was apparently very close to his cousin. Lizzy had acted in the opposite way of Darcy, who believed her desription of Jane's heartbreak over the "evidence" of his own observations, because of the intimacy between the sisters. I believe that this shows that Darcy really was impartial in his belief of Jane's indifference, as he said earlier in the letter. If he had been unduly influenced by his own desires, would he so readily have accepted Lizzy's contradiction of his opinion? But Lizzy's dislike/distrust of Darcy was founded on his personal insult of her at the ball at Meryton. She should have seen that the "looks" that she thought confirmed Wickham's story were open to many interpretations. The evidence of her own experience of both men could tell her that one was charming and the other continually giving offense, but not that Wickham was of stellar character, while Darcy was vicious. No one gave Wickham a character reference. He never referred Lizzy to Denny, his only friend in Hertfordshire before he joined the regiment. Though we were told at the ball at Netherfield that Denny knew Wickham's story, he apparently did not know it first hand. Whether he was given a truer version of it than Lizzy was, we can only specualte.
Lizzy ends by recognizing she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd towards both men. She did not even have the excuse of being in love to mitigate her cuplability. She had been blinded by vanity.
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