Analysis Pages

Foreshadowing in Pride and Prejudice

Foreshadowing Examples in Pride and Prejudice:

Chapter IV


"With your good sense..."   (Chapter IV)

Elizabeth is indirectly pointing out Jane’s “reverse prejudice”: Jane believes the best in everyone without having a good reason for doing so. This is just as dangerous as believing the worst in people without justification. Jane is putting herself at risk; if she is not cautious, she can be taken advantage of.

"uncommonly foolish...."   (Chapter VII)

Mr. Bennet enjoys teasing and criticizing his daughters, but never actually attempts to correct their behavior. He seems to recognize that Catherine and Lydia are spending an inappropriate amount of time around the soldiers, but he never insists that they stop. Though he likely doesn’t intend to be a negligent parent, his refusal to be serious inadvertently puts them at risk.

"Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen..."   (Chapter IX)

“Stout” means healthy and strong here, as opposed to stocky. Lydia, who is “well-developed” with “high animal spirits,” is sexualized far more than the other Bennet sisters. She is obsessed with men (specifically officers) and neither of her parents seem concerned about her overt flirtatiousness.

"appearance..."   (Chapter XV)

The narrator makes a point to fixate on Mr. Wickham's superficial first impressions: his "fine countenance," "good figure," and "very pleasing address." The emphasis on superficiality suggests that Mr. Wickham is perhaps not all he seems to be.

"Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry..."   (Chapter XV)

Mr. Collins fulfills the first line of the novel: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The previously-established fact that he is a pompous and insensible man suggests that this "truth universally acknowledged" might not be a positive one; Mr. Collins seeks a wife for practical purposes, after all, and not for love.

"very countenance..."   (Chapter XVI)

The narrator reveals that Elizabeth has formed an opinion of Mr. Wickham that is based on first impressions—specifically, his good looks. This suggests that Elizabeth might not always base her opinions (positive or negative) on legitimate reasons. Elizabeth's judgment of Mr. Wickham might be viewed as a reverse prejudice.

"authoritative..."   (Chapter XVI)

Mr. Wickham's estimation of Lady Catherine's character is surprisingly accurate. We know Lady Catherine likely leverages her rank and fortune to influence other people's decisions and behavior because she domineers over Mr. Collins over even the most trifling of matters (such as decorating or organizing his house).

"truth in his looks...."   (Chapter XVII)

Elizabeth naively supports her acceptance of Mr. Wickham's story by insisting that, because he looked trustworthy, he must have been telling the truth. Elizabeth is blind to her own prejudice here: Regardless of whether Mr. Wickham is lying or not, she will not consider the possibility that Mr. Darcy is not in the wrong.

"amiable appearance..."   (Chapter XVII)

The narrator continues to emphasize the reason behind Elizabeth's and Jane's trust in Mr. Wickham: he is handsome and appears to be friendly and trustworthy. By underscoring Mr. Wickham's "amiable appearance," however, the narrator hints that he is perhaps not as trustworthy as the Bennet sisters believe.

" Let Wickham be your man...."   (Chapter XXIV)

Mr. Bennet seems to foresee an attachment growing between Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth. Rather than feeling concern (or even genuine interest), however, he jokes about the prospect of Elizabeth being jilted.

"fun..."   (Chapter XXXIX)

Lydia's perspective on life and marriage revolves around amusement; unlike Charlotte, for example, who is strictly pragmatic (perhaps to a fault), Lydia is only interested in having fun. This hedonistic immaturity blinds her to social consequences and puts her (as well as the Bennet family) at risk.

"many degrees worse..."   (Chapter XLI)

Mr. Bennet oddly believes that nothing bad will come from sending his silliest, most immature daughter to Brighton—a notoriously hedonistic, immoral place—because she is "too poor to be an object of prey" and bad enough that she can't possibly become much worse.

Analysis Pages