Pride and the Prejudice is a wonderful novel comprised on many characters with differing attributes, personalities, classes and motives. Wickham, a foot soldier who is a minor character within Austen’s novel greatly influences the lives of both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Primarily Wickham appears to be a gentleman, with only good intentions at heart. As the novel progresses Wickham’s past, and with that his true character are revealed; he is a man driven by greed. Wickham function within the novel Pride and Prejudice is also soon made clear; he has feelings for Elizabeth and resentment towards Mr. Darcy so Wickham purposely tries to create tension between the two. Wickham is an entirely negative character whose main function is to cause tension, mainly between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Initially Wickham appears to be the perfect gentleman.
Wickham is charming, polite, and witty and immediately displays feelings towards Elizabeth. When Elizabeth and Wickham encounter Mr. Darcy for the first time together, they are greeted very frostily. When Elizabeth questions Wickham about Mr. Darcy’s attitude towards him, she is told an elaborate tale. Wickham explains to Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy and himself have been acquainted since childhood. Mr. Darcy’s father treated Wickham as a second son, and upon Old Mr. Darcy’s death a fair amount of money was to be left to Wickham.
Wickham claims that Mr. Darcy withheld this money for no rightful reason. Wickham portrays himself to be a gentleman, who has been wrongfully cheated in life, and only has good intentions. As the novel progresses, the truth of Wickham character is revealed. Elizabeth confronts Mr. Darcy about the allegedly terrible act he committed against Wickham. Mr. Darcy explains to Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy is manipulative and conniving, and every word he spoke was fabricated. Wickham was to receive a generous amount of money upon Old Mr. Darcy’s death on the condition he pursued life in the church as planned; if he found vocation in life elsewhere this agreement was to become void. After the death of Old Mr. Darcy, Wickham made clear that he has no interest in a life in the church but still demanded his money, which was denied to him.
This scenario was the first insight to the greedy nature of all Wickham’s motives. All contact between Mr. Darcy and Wickham ended after the death of Old Mr. Darcy. Years later, unexpectedly, Wickham returns claiming to deeply love Mr. Darcy’s sister. Wickham ventured into an engagement with Mr. Darcy’s sister. Mr. Darcy’s sister was to inherit a reasonable amount of money, left to her by the Old Mr. Darcy. When it became clear that Wickham would have no control of this money even through marriage he once again disappeared. Mr. Darcy’s sister was fooled by Wickham’s charming demeanor and words, and then was left heartbroken when his motives were revealed. Once again all contact between the Darcy’s and Wickham is obsolete until he turns up in town.
He is now employed as a foot soldier which causes him to travel frequently. Upon Wickham arrival he expresses feelings for Elizabeth, and then later her sister Lydia. Lydia soon becomes infatuated Wickham and is persuaded by him to run away with her. At this time, for a woman to run of with a man, unmarried, could ruin the woman’s family. If Wickham could not be persuaded to marry Lydia, the Bennett family would be ruined. Only when Mr. Darcy offers Wickham a reasonable amount of money does he marry Lydia. Mr. Darcy saves the Bennett family from ruin and Wickham finally gains the fortune he has dedicated his life to attaining.
Wickham is a character of many faces, but his true negative character is eventually revealed. All Wickham’s actions, even his romantic pursuits, are driven by a deeper greed and lust for money. Every situation the reader observes Wickham within, ends in Wickham’s betrayal of a character; whether it was his deceit towards Elizabeth or his false affection towards Mr. Darcy’s sister and Lydia. Wickham is portrayed as a completely negative character that is driven by greed and only cares for himself. Wickham interacts with many characters within Pride and Prejudice.
Wickhams main function in Austen’s novel begins with the reader’s introduction to Wickham and his relationship with Elizabeth. Austen makes obvious that there is reason to distrust Wickham; he is too quick to give Elizabeth reason to hate Mr. Darcy. This initiates the first real tension in the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Now only if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy overcome their ‘pride and prejudice’ will there relationship ever stand a chance. Wickham’s main purpose is to cause stress between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, to hopefully end their relationship for the purpose of revenge against Mr. Darcy and so he himself may enter into a relationship with Elizabeth. Throughout the course of Pride and Prejudice, Wickhams true character is slowly revealed. All Wickhams actions are driven by underlying motives of greed and egocentricity. Wickham displays himself to be a gentle man, but through scenario’s such as Wickham’s ended engagement with Mr. Darcy’s sister, the falsity of his words to Elizabeth regarding Mr. Darcy, his manipulation of Lydia and his history with the Darcy family the reader is enlightened to his true nature.
Wickham’s main function within Pride and Prejudice is to cause tension, which he does successfully. Wickham almost single handedly ruins the relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, it is only nearing the end of the novel with they dismiss their ‘pride and prejudice’ does their love survive. Wickhams revealed true nature and main purpose as a character to cause tension expose him as entirely negative. References Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Jane Austen. The Republic of Pemberly. “Pride and Prejudice”. 2005.