The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is where a few thousand bloggers post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. My theme is: “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.”
W is for Wickham (the Wicked)
“Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned.” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
It seems like ages since I first wanted to write this post. In vain I have struggled (see what I did there?) to keep Wickham out of my other posts. He deserved his own…and I had to wait until near the end of the month to tell you how ardently I love, though not admire, Wickham (HA! I did it again).
The many faces of Wickham!
George Wickham comes to Meryton following Mr. Collins arrival at Longbourne and well after Mr. Darcy snubs Elizabeth during the ball at the assembly halls. He is to join the militia and, with his good looks and happy manners, Wickham becomes the darling to all the Bennet clan (well, the females anyway). Here is how Jane Austen describes him: “His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address. The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation—a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming.”
Wickham, who was the son of the late Mr. Darcy’s steward, grew up with Fitzwilliam Darcy. He, a favorite of Darcy’s father, was promised a living as a clergyman. He explains to Elizabeth that Darcy was so jealous of his relationship with the father that the life he was to have was denied him. She and all the village of Meryton are happy to believe any words against Darcy, so Wickham spreads his venom far and wide.
We don’t learn until later that Mr. Wickham isn’t what he appears. When he quickly changes his affections from Elizabeth to the girl that inherited 10,000 pounds we should become suspicious. In the letter Darcy writes Elizabeth, he describes exactly what sort of snake Wickham is and how he would have used Darcy’s young sister. Elizabeth feels lucky to escape Wickham unscathed…that is until he seduces Lydia.
I think George Wickham’s wickedness comes from not being able to live within his own means. Though he denied it, he never wanted to join the clergy. He was quite happy to have Darcy buy him off instead of working for a living. Then when that money was gone, Wickham moved on to a scheme to steal away with the young Georgiana Darcy to ensure he got a hand on her fortune. It all comes from a love of money. Wickham was given a life, as a child, that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. He grew accustomed to the finer things and wasn’t willing to relinquish them.
The truth is, Wickham is the complete opposite of Darcy; the anti-Darcy. In the beginning he is charming and charismatic, but ends up showing himself vile. Darcy, on the other hand, starts out being rude and selfish but redeems himself like the perfect man we all know him to be. Elizabeth said it best, “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”
If Darcy is the character we love to love, then Wickham has to be the one we love to hate. What are your thoughts on George Wickham?