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Every accomplishment in life is vulnerable to interference or destruction by negative influences. The higher the accomplishment is with respect to previous levels of achievement, the greater the vulnerability. The character of a negative influence can be seen from the nature of events that occur when its approaches or leaves the atmosphere.

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Wickham plays the role of a negative influence in the relationship between Darcy and Eliza. His lies to Eliza directly poison the atmosphere of their relationship and generate an intense dislike in her. Eliza’s strong physical attraction to Wickham becomes the weak point through which she is vulnerable. Darcy is vulnerable because he has paid an undeserving man ₤3000 and restrained from exposing his attempted elopement with Georgiana.

Local news about Wickham’s poor reputation reaches Eliza through Caroline and Jane but she ignores it. When Eliza brings Wickham home to Longbourn for the first time to meet her parents, Jane immediately receives a letter from Caroline announcing their departure from Herefordshire for the winter. When Eliza learns that Wickham is to marry Mary King, she soon receives an invitation from the Gardiners for a summer tour that eventually takes her to Pemberley. Wickham’s arrival postpones Jane’s marriage and his removal promotes Eliza’s. Lydia’s elopement comes just at the time that Eliza and Darcy are reintroduced.

The great good fortune coming to the Bennet family through the approach of Bingley and Darcy is undermined by Lydia’s low behavior. She is the weak link in the family through which disaster strikes and almost cancels great good fortune. It is a response of the lower portion of the family to the higher opportunity that has opened for the family. The weakest link breaks when the strongest contemplates an upward initiative at times of great opportunity.

But in one way or another almost all the family members contribute to Lydia’s foolish, destructive act. Mrs. Bennet actively campaigns for Lydia’s visit to Brighton. Mr. Bennet is unconcerned by Lydia’s wayward, unrestrained public behavior with the officers, even when Eliza condemns it. Neither he nor his wife feel it objectionable, which is a sanction for it to expand[1]. Later Mr. Bennet shows the same mental sincerity as Eliza in recognizing his own responsibility for Lydia’s calamity. When warning her father about Wickham, Eliza withholds facts. Because her emotional loyalties are divided and she still wants to protect Wickham, her warning fails. Giving an argument without all the facts was an ineffective strategy. Kitty knew of Lydia’s interest in Wickham two weeks before the elopement, but never said anything.

Wickham is Darcy’s family problem from whom his own sister narrowly escaped. His love and matrimonial intentions for Eliza bring the same problem down on the Bennet family. In one sense it is true that the worst of what Darcy feared about Eliza’s family is realized. In another, it is the connection with Darcy’s own family that is the source of the problem. In this sense, Darcy is not totally above the disgrace that comes on the Bennets. Rather, what he could avoid in the case of Georgiana through his money and superior organization comes to the Bennets and can only be resolved by Darcy’s money and connections. His own sister is even less substantial than Lydia, though more docile. Georgiana was the weak link through which Wickham almost ruined Darcy’s family.

If the karma of Darcy’s family brings misfortune to Eliza’s family, it is also true that Eliza’s attraction to Wickham is the key that opens the door for that misfortune. Eliza later realized that if she had spoken frankly to her family what she learned from Darcy about Wickham, Lydia’s elopement could have been avoided. Eliza is unable to feel anger at Wickham even after the elopement when he interrupts her reading in Mrs. Gardiner’s letter an account of Darcy’s role. Eliza’s unwillingness to publicly condemn Wickham after she learns the truth is the seed for Lydia’s tragic fall.


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