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Human Science

George Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)

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Wickham’s father was in the legal profession, most probably as a lawyer’s clerk like Mr. Philips, before he became steward to Darcy’s father at Pemberley and took responsibility for management of the estate, a position of considerable power and influence. Yet, his father did not earn sufficient money to support the lavish spending habits of his wife. Wickham grew up at Pemberley as Darcy’s boyhood friend and acquired all the manners of the aristocracy. This close association generated in him an aspiration to rise to Darcy’s level, either by merit or by deceit. He was cleverer and more handsome than his friend, and unencumbered by Darcy’s scruples.

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Apart from a pleasant face, charming manners, good address and a basket of ever-fresh lies, Wickham has nothing to distinguish him by way of character or action. His attractiveness is biological and every woman adores it regardless of his behavior. It is a basic instinctive response in nature. He has little energy. Even the elopement with Lydia was initiated by her. Because Wickham is handsome, no lady is able to be angry with him. He is constantly in debt, a reflection of his mother’s inability to limit her expenditures within the family’s income.



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Footnotes


P&P refers to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1980

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