First impressions had a deep effect within Nineteenth Century society in all classes. In fact, the first imprint you would make when meeting in a social gathering generally would typecast you within the minds of those around and usually only swayed by gross changes in your behavior. Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice falls victim to this practice in relation to Fitzwilliam Darcy after their first encounter. Darcy seems anything but a man Elizabeth would care to marry, yet as their relationship grows, Austen paints a romance for the reader in which social class and first impressions are broken to reveal Darcy as not just more than he first appeared, but as the ideal husband. Throughout the book, the reader begins to see how Austen views the institution of marriage and those she feels are exceptional marriages and those she views as disastrous ones. Austen creates her ideal husband with Darcy by not only exhibiting qualities within him such as control over money and power, a good nature and a strong father figure, but also by contrasting him through characters such George Wickham and Mr. Bennet and their lack of such distinctions.
Austen portrays her consummate husband through Darcy. At first, Austen uses Darcy to confront a social flaw at the time, which was the stereotyping of individuals based on class. Upper class and very wealthy, Darcy is of course is of an elite caste who are intended to marry for mercenary reasons, a practice which Austen frowns upon and chooses to doom any marriage with such a premise as its foundation. Yet Darcy encompasses all the qualities that Austen wants in her hero for the story. At first, Darcy is drawn as pompous and arrogant by all those that meet him. His refusal to dance with anyone at the first ball, and his confinement into conversations only with his close acquaintances, create a conceited air about him that Elizabeth detests.