Pride and Prejudice

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George Wickham Character Analysis

Wickham is an officer in the local military regiment and appears to be the very model of a gentleman. In reality, he is a liar, hypocrite, and an opportunist. He thinks nothing of ruining a young woman's reputation, and is instead much more concerned with paying off his massive gambling debts.

George Wickham Quotes in Pride and Prejudice

The Pride and Prejudice quotes below are all either spoken by George Wickham or refer to George Wickham. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice published in 2002.
Chapter 16 Quotes
When Mr. Wickham walked into the room, Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, nor thinking of him since, with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration. The officers of the —shire were in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present party; but Mr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and walk.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, George Wickham
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham find themselves at dinner together, and before Wickham sits down she watches him and compares him to his fellow officers. Just as Elizabeth was quick to pronounce a judgment on Darcy's demeanor from afar, now she quickly comes to an opinion about Mr. Wickham based largely on how he looks and acts, and although she doesn't know him very well. Here we see how prejudice does not always have to be a negative sentiment: indeed, one can easily be prejudiced in favor of someone or something. Although we see the scene through Elizabeth's eyes, we are meant to question her unbridled admiration. Is Wickham really the most admirable of all the officers, and in all the traits that Elizabeth describes? Austen is sympathetic towards Elizabeth's assumptions, but she also cautions the reader against being caught up in the same current.

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Chapter 36 Quotes
I, who have prided myself on my discernment!—I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust.—How humiliating is this discovery!—Yet, how just a humiliation! ... Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, George Wickham
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth has read Darcy's long letter explaining himself, and although she only slowly begins to realize its truth, she soon accepts it and then turns to a contemplation of her own character and of her own mistakes. This interior monologue, in which Elizabeth flits from thought to thought, is a kind of epiphany: thanks to the letter, she sees her past and those around her in an entirely new light. It is only now that Elizabeth understands the full implications of her prejudice. She had always thought this attitude superior to that of Jane's, because it allowed her to be a good judge of character and separate the good from the ill. Now, however, she recognizes that her mistrust was completely baseless, and that she would have done well to follow the unprejudiced attitude of her sister.

In addition, Elizabeth has to come to terms with the painful realization that she has acted precisely opposite to the way she should have, prizing one man over another and courting unsavory values as opposed to defensible ones. It was her pride, among other things, that led to her stubborn judgments of Darcy, as well as to her prejudice in favor of Wickham. Elizabeth's mistake is thus humiliating because of the consequences it has for how she has treated other people; but it is also so painful because she realizes only now just how little self-knowledge she really had.

Chapter 40 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet (speaker), Fitzwilliam Darcy, George Wickham
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth is relating to her sister Jane everything that has happened and what she has learned since reading Darcy's letter. Here, she makes some remarks that sum up much of what she has realized about the two men, Darcy and Wickham: while Wickham has succeeded in convincing everyone around him that he is good, only Darcy is truly a good person. Darcy and Wickham have been paired at various points in the book: not only are they Elizabeth's two main love interests, but they allow Austen to develop a more nuanced account of prejudice and judgment by considering both men and both cases. Austen is not against all judgment: indeed, Elizabeth's pronouncement here can be considered another judgment itself. Instead, the book makes it clear that initial prejudice can often cloud rational thinking and prevent true, proper judgment - a process that only time, patience, and humility will allow to unfold.

Chapter 49 Quotes
It is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If he had not had a family of his own, I and my children must have had all his money, you know; and it is the first time we have ever had anything from him, except a few presents. Well! I am so happy! In a short time I shall have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! How well it sounds!
Related Characters: Mrs. Bennet (speaker), George Wickham, Lydia Bennet, Mr. Gardiner
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

Thanks to Mr. Gardiner, Lydia's honor and reputation have been saved: Mr. Wickham will marry Lydia, as long as Mr. Bennet pays him a certain amount annually. Suspecting that Mr. Gardiner has already paid Wickham a good deal himself, Elizabeth and Jane wonder how they can ever repay him. Mrs. Bennet, though, does not linger over such questions of gratitude or debt. She is shown here at her most shallow, caring largely for appearances - how impressed others will be that Lydia is marrying such a man. She doesn't think of what kind of character Wickham must have: for Mrs. Bennet too marriage is a kind of transaction, and while Austen doesn't entirely disagree with this point of view, she shows just how much she disapproves of taking that idea to this extreme. 

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George Wickham Character Timeline in Pride and Prejudice

The timeline below shows where the character George Wickham appears in Pride and Prejudice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
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...to Meryton. There, everyone's attention is captured by a striking and unfamiliar young man: Mr. Wickham, who just accepted a post in the regiment. Wickham's conversation is friendly and lively. (full context)
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...then, Bingley and Darcy come up the street and stop to chat. When Darcy and Wickham see each other, each man recoils in shock. Elizabeth wonders how they know each other.... (full context)
Chapter 16
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At dinner the next evening, Elizabeth is fascinated by Wickham's pleasant demeanor. The two of them easily fall into conversation and Wickham soon asks about... (full context)
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Wickham explains that he was the son of one of Darcy's father's employees, and that he... (full context)
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Elizabeth asks about Darcy's sister, Georgiana. Wickham says that she is an accomplished young woman living in London but that she is,... (full context)
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Wickham, hearing Mr. Collins go on about Lady Catherine, informs Elizabeth that Lady Catherine is actually... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...so blameworthy and that there must be other parts to the story. But Elizabeth believes Wickham, saying "there was truth in his looks." She wonders how Bingley could actually be Darcy's... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Arriving at the ball at Netherfield, Elizabeth is disappointed to realize that Wickham is not at the party. Elizabeth blames Darcy for Wickham's absence. She endures two dreadful... (full context)
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...she accepts. Their conversation is short and abrupt. Darcy is uncomfortable when she brings up Wickham. (full context)
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Afterwards, Caroline approaches Elizabeth about Wickham. He wasn't wronged by Darcy, she says. On the contrary, Wickham treated Darcy terribly and... (full context)
Chapter 21
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One morning, the Bennet sisters walk to Meryton and meet Wickham who confirms to Elizabeth that he was avoiding Darcy at the ball. He walks them... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Wickham occasionally visits and his pleasant company helps to dispel the gloom. Mr. Bennet encourages Elizabeth... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Having noticed the warmth between Elizabeth and Wickham, Mrs. Gardiner cautions Elizabeth about making an unpromising match, warning that Wickham has no fortune.... (full context)
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Around the same time, Wickham's interest shifts from Elizabeth to a young woman who recently inherited £10,000. Elizabeth finds she... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Mrs. Gardiner also consoles Elizabeth about losing Wickham. She considers his shift in attention to a suddenly-rich woman to be quite self-serving. But... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...explanation. Elizabeth blasts him for insulting her, for ruining Jane's happiness forever, and for robbing Wickham of his chances in life. (full context)
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Darcy stands by his decision to break up Bingley and Jane. He is sarcastic about Wickham's misfortunes. And he tells Elizabeth that he was only being honest about his complicated feelings... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...letter of explanation. In the letter, Darcy answers Elizabeth's charges of misconduct toward Jane and Wickham. He knew that Bingley was in love with Jane, but he detected no affection on... (full context)
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Regarding Wickham, Darcy says that after Darcy's father died, Wickham resigned his opportunity with the church in... (full context)
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Years passed. Wickham saw an opportunity with Darcy's sister Georgiana, who was both rich and, at age 15,... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...upon rereading the letter, she starts to see things in a different light. Elizabeth realizes Wickham was inconsistent and that his history was never verified. She realizes that Wickham tricked her. (full context)
Chapter 39
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...parents to take everyone there for the summer. Lydia adds, with delight, that the girl Wickham was pursuing has left town, leaving Wickham available. (full context)
Chapter 40
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...Jane how Darcy proposed to her and also shares the part of Darcy's letter about Wickham. Elizabeth says that she can hardly believe how Darcy got all the goodness while Wickham... (full context)
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Elizabeth asks for Jane's advice: should they publicize Wickham's faults? They agree not to, for the sake of Darcy and his sister. Besides, no... (full context)
Chapter 41
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In the days following, Elizabeth encounters Wickham at a social event. He blushes when she asks if he knows Colonel Fitzwilliam. When... (full context)
Chapter 45
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When Darcy arrives, Caroline tries to embarrass Elizabeth by bringing up her connection with Wickham. The plan backfires: the name of Wickham mortifies Georgiana, and only Elizabeth's cool handling of... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...letters from Jane. The first contains the shocking news that Lydia had run off with Wickham to get married in Scotland. The second letter has much worse news: that Colonel Forster... (full context)
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...running out the door and tells him the story. Elizabeth blames herself for not revealing Wickham's character to everyone, which would have prevented this. (full context)
Chapter 47
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...the carriage, Mr. Gardiner wonders if Jane might be right in hoping for the best: Wickham knows Lydia has no money and stands to lose his reputation with his regiment, so... (full context)
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...Colonel Foster for not watching over Lydia. She tells Mr. Gardiner to make Lydia and Wickham marry when they are found—and to make Lydia consult her about finding the best deals... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Longbourn buzzes with the news. It comes out that Wickham accrued serious debts in Meryton as well as gambling debts at Brighton. (full context)
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...to no avail. Mr. Gardiner suggests that Elizabeth ask for help from anyone related to Wickham. (full context)
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More time passes, but all attempts to find Wickham and Lydia fail, and Mr. Bennet returns home. He asks Elizabeth not to talk with... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Two days later, a letter arrives from Mr. Gardiner: Lydia and Wickham have been found! They are not yet married, but will be, provided that Mr. Bennet... (full context)
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Mr. Bennet says he strongly suspects that Mr. Gardiner has already paid Wickham much more. Wickham would be a fool to take less for Lydia, he says. The... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...told Darcy about the scandal. She expects him to distance himself from her now that Wickham will be joining the Bennet family. Elizabeth realizes that she and Darcy would have been... (full context)
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Mr. Gardiner sends a letter saying that Wickham has changed regiments to one in Northern England and that Lydia hopes they can visit... (full context)
Chapter 51
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Lydia and Wickham arrive at Longbourn. Lydia is giddy over her marriage, mocking her older sisters for failing... (full context)
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Yet during their ten-day visit, Elizabeth observes that Wickham doesn't entirely return Lydia's infatuation. She figures he ran away from creditors in Brighton and,... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Before Wickham leaves, Elizabeth encounters him on a walk. She reiterates that she knows his story but,... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Soon after Wickham and Lydia leave, Mrs. Bennet hears rumors that Bingley is returning to Netherfield. Mr. Bennet... (full context)
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...almost none to Darcy. She then goes on to speak glowingly about Lydia's marriage to Wickham, much to Elizabeth's mortification. (full context)