Q1. Consider Mr. Wickham’s function in Pride and Prejudice in terms of the geometry of desire. What is the source of Elizabeth’s attraction to in Mr. Wickham? What role does he play in her attraction to Mr. Darcy? What is the significance of his own amatory adventures?
Mr. Wickman is an antagonist in the story but we can also say that he is a star of his right. He was a someone who had the makings of an honorable man, however there was one very essential factor for success that he did not possess, it was money. He was a steward to the Old Mr. Darcy and the geometry of desire begins as early as stewardship to the Darcys.
As a man who has so much to offer but is lacking from the right opportunities it was very frustrating for Mr. Wickman to be in the society where he is. He was living in insecurity both financially and emotionally. He needed to live a frugal life and work hard for just about anything…the food he eats, his clothing, his education. While next to him is the young Darcy who is provided for and served. There was a question in his mind why he had to take the shoes of the poor man while there was abundance among others, because there was no answer that he received, he later on decided to give himself a suitable and rewarding answer.
Darcy and Wickman are both very competitive and while the quality of their personalities is very close in comparison, both were coming from different perspectives. They had their own impetuses to achieve and to accomplish. The young Darcy is in fulfillment of a reputation and dream which was built and designed by his family, it started from his forefathers and the legacy of honor is passed on to him so he can further improve it. Meanwhile, Wickman is fueled by his passion to achieve the things that were deprived from him because of lack of money. This made him work as hard as can so that he can climb the ladder of honor and make himself the man he has always wanted to be.
And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into.” – Chapter 8, Volume 1. Bingley
In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wickman is a character who personifies the oppression of life (not people) in general. There were those born filthy rich and there were also those who barely have clothing for their young. If there is anything that Wickman represents it is the struggle of a person to be beyond what he presently is. However, the means by which he can improve his finances and social stability varies. This is where we examine the ability of Wickman to desire and to turn it into vengeance against all the oppressions he had experienced in his life. If he has the capacity to dream, he also has the capacity to make it happen. But then, he is in a no-holds-barred mode where the end justifies the means.
She is happy, then,” said her father, drily; “and her residence there will probably be of some duration.”- Lydia Chapter 48, Vol.3
There is a different charisma that Wickman possess compared to Darcy. In any story, the antagonist is almost always as handsome and as charming as the protagonist. Elizabeth’s attraction to Wickman was because of his elegance as a gentleman moreso, because of the charm he possess that clearly states he is more interesting than any other man. What makes him interesting is his capacity to be either extremely good or extremely bad; that he is never mediocre and there is always something exciting that he will do.
“They have both,” said she, “been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side.” –Elizabeth, Chapter 17. Volume l
Wickman made the Elizabeth-Darcy love affair complicated but it was also something that is common to girls in real life. The saying collect and collect and then select actually applies because Elizabeth is seeing alternatives. She has other options and this actually tells us that the woman doesn’t have any tendency to cheat but she has an opportunity to illustrate how much she values herself in a way that she wants a man who is really best for her. She refuses to settle for anything less.
As I’ve said, Wickman is a star of his own right, he is a self-made man and his adventures tells a lot about the kind of person he is. He is a very diligent and persistent person whose diligence definitely paid off. He has the courage of an honourable man. And though crooked in many ways, he managed to illustrate the reason why men become bad people.
Q2. How do issues of class get raised in the Pride and Prejudice? How does the novel resolve these issues? What role does gender play in how Austen engages issues of class in the novel?
Class in the Royal Society is very important. Everybody is conscious about it and everybody wants to be in that sphere. The bourgeoisie are the luckiest and most blessed among all other people because they get to enjoy the best of everything.They basically have the best resources, the most comfortable clothes, the most sumptuous foods, the luxurious lifestyle that any man can dream of. Being there is like reaching heaven.
“How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November, Mr. Darcy! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for, if I recollect right, he went but the day before. He and his sisters were well, I hope, when you left London.” –Elizabeth, Vol2, Chapter 32
The importance of class in the society can be summed up in a way that Mr. Bennet is willing to “sacrifice” his children so that either or all of them can resolve their financial difficulties. There were clearly limited specifications said about considering the emotions and feelings of the daughters.
“””I think it no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for every body.”- Elizabeth, Chapter 17. Vol1
The Bennets would go as far as “selling” their daughters with the right price and this right price is the determinant of their wealth. Put it this way, the parents see financial stability more important than the happiness of their daughter. And as long as the man can provide the sum of money and the influence they need, there will be no problem with them. He can practically have topaz teeth, ill temper and insensitivity combined all together and they wouldn’t mind.
The society dictates how men, women, children and families should their lives and anyone who fails to accede to its standards is basically treated with less affection. They are marginalized and judge for what they have not.
“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better” – Lydia Chapter 39. Volume 2
Women as object and means of acquiring things that is tangible and material. Consider Mrs. Bennet’s ultimate desire to have her daughters marry rich gentlemen. Her intention of giving them a stable life is basically good but the problem is it reign supreme more than anything else. The free will of the lady is surpassed as if she has to give up her happiness to get whatever financial wealth she can. Marriage is not something that happens like merging of companies. Women are not objects and are not supposed to be means of getting material satisfaction. We have to remember that what binds a man and woman together is love, if this is not present then, there will be incalculable problems which money and social influence cannot solve.
Q3. Why does Austen call Elizabeth by her first name and Mr. Darcy by his last name throughout the novel? What is the effect of this naming? What are its social implications?
Jane Austen calls Elizabeth as Elizabeth because she wants to illustrate the second-class citizenship given to women. Sadly, there are really many cases not only in the Royal Society but in other parts of the world and in various generations where women were not given what they are supposed to have. Their gender is often used for their disadvantage. Though this is something which has long been debated upon, the gender issues in Pride and Prejudice were clear, even the simplest details tells us of such.
Mr. Darcy, being a man of influence and a man of honor is called by his last name because of two things, first is his gender and second is his social status. The fact that Mr. Darcy is male makes it a whole lot different for him; it’s as if he has a divine right to rule over the world only because he alighted from the male species. While this is something essentially contestable, it existed and it was an illustration of how harsh the society was and is to women.
“Now I am quite happy,’ Lizzy, Chapter 59. Volume 3
The social implications were clear, simple and has been lurking since forever. First, women were use as objects…either to acquire whatever land, money, wealth, social status and the like. Next, women were used as appendages to men and accessories to heighten their ego and the way the are perceived by people from the public sphere.
Were it known to the rest of my family, I should not have merely my own gratitude to express.” – Elizabeth , Chapter 58. Vol. 3
We have to face it and we have to act on it.
Pride and Prejudice is a manifestation and illustration of how little choice women in the society and in the world have. While there is such a thing as human rights and gender sensitivity, it is not really carried over because of the culture of Machismo that exists. This culture is very evident particularly in Latin countries or those which are colonies or once colonized by Spain.
Pride and Prejudice is a very symbolic and rich manuscript depicting how life for men and women are different but their shared struggle s and victories make them human.