Human Science

No event occurs without prior indications of what is to come.

This principle is true both positively and negatively. Life gives as early hints of good fortune that is coming later and warnings of pending misfortune, which we ignore at our risk.

Elizabeth had ample occasion to suspect Wickham’s true character long before calamity struck. In their very first meeting he told her that because of his gratitude to Darcy’s father he would never speak against the son, but then proceeded to do just that. He also said that nothing could keep him from the ball at Netherfield, but then he did not come. Elizabeth might naturally suspect Caroline’s motives when she spoke of Wickham’s bad past, but she also ignored the blatant fact of his mercenary pursuit of Miss King and even justified it on his behalf. Darcy’s letter at Rosings was only icing on the cake, but still she was reluctant to believe because she was still attracted to Wickham. That is the manner in which we disregard life’s warnings when it does not suit us.

In her first meeting with Elizabeth at Rosings, Lady Catherine felt affronted by Elizabeth’s free and outspoken nature ("But really, ma'am, I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their share of society and amusement, because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early. The last-born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth as the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! I think it would not be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind.") and faulted her for expressing her opinion so freely. She was given a further indication of what was to come when Darcy stood up in the middle of a discussion with Lady Catherine to walk to the piano where he could see Elizabeth more easily. Alerted, Lady Catherine calls out asking what they are talking about and insists on being included in their conversation. She already feels she is being eliminated from the equation. Elizabeth later explains to Jane that Darcy called on them at the hermitage every day during their stay there. Her initial reactions were a forewarning of what was to come between her nephew and Elizabeth yet she chose to ignore it. When she went to Longbourn and tried to pressurize Elizabeth into relinquishing any interest in Darcy. Elizabeth responded boldly to her attack and stood her ground firmly.

Wherever a work is completed or cancelled, the end result is indicated by symptoms earlier. The circumstances during the first occasion on which two people meet very often gives a good indication of what is to come in the relationship. When Mrs. Phillips entertained in her home, Wickham gave attention to only two women – Lydia and Elizabeth. They turned out to be the two most important women in his life – one became his wife, the other his link to relationship with Darcy. When Bingley came to the ball, Jane was the very first person he danced with. Elizabeth was the one person Darcy refused to dance with at Bingley’s request. Later Elizabeth would refuse his marriage proposal. Both began the relationship with an initial refusal. When Mr. Collins first arrives at Longbourn, Mr. Bennet teases his into confessing about his agility at making clever compliments, prompting Elizabeth to laugh. In fact, Elizabeth laughed even when Collins’ first letter was read out. When Collins told Mrs. Bennet that he was interested in Jane, Mrs. Bennet informed him that Jane was practically engaged. His first idea failed. Ultimately he did not marry any of the five sisters.