• Reputation is more important for women than for men

The reputation of the female characters are more important than men's and more vulnerable to criticism. When Lydia marries Wickham, the nighbourhood gossips and are dissapointed. If he had not married her, she might have been forced to 'come upon the town'. This suggests that she may have to sell herself as a prostitue or be 'secluded from the world'. The word 'secluded' tells the reader that if she did not marry, people who were once friends and family of Lydia would have to actively ostracize and sequester her. The word 'world' is used by Austen to show how the upper class people live in a microcosm of their wealthy society, and that if Lydia was to disgrace her reputation, she would be ruined and she wouldnt be able to live a happy or respectable life.

In contrast, Wickham would suffer some 'disgrace in the corps', but his reputation would not be permanently damaged. This further emphasises that reputation matters more for women than it does for men.

  • Austen presents attitudes towards reputation as not always being deserved

Austen uses contrasting characters of Darcy and Wickham to criticise the way reputations are based on shallow factors. Elizabeth says that 'one has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it'. This suggests that she thinks Darcy is unsociable, which gives him a reputation with the local people for being cold and rude, yet Wickham is charming, so everyone assumes he has 'every virtue'. By the end, their true characters are revealed, and each get the reputations they deserve. Austen shows that reputations should be based on a proper understanding of a persons character.



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