“I HAVE KNOWN HIM TOO LONG AND TOO WELL TO BE A FAIR JUDGE. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO BE IMPARTIAL” – George Wickham
I was reminded of a time immediately after I became divorced a few years back. The single’s dance was my first attempt to venture out into the unmarried world. Of course, without even realizing it, I was sizing up the competition as well as my future prospects. My attention was more drawn to the men and their date-ability. I hadn’t yet settled into the comfortable and very desirable state of being where you learn that being single was actually quite nice. If I wanted to cook eggs for dinner, I could. If I wanted to spend a little extra money on something frivolous, that was my prerogative. Not having to report to someone was something I had not learned to value yet, but now I do.
As I sized up the single men anywhere near my age range I started labeling them. There was the jobless eternal student, the head injury, the sarcastic x-wife-hater, the lady stalker, and the man who was looking for his sugarmommy (is that even a word?). I left the singles dance very discouraged that there was not one potential prospect. They were all misfits. And then it hit me. I was a misfit too. I belonged to this mid-thirties and older group of misfits. I was a divorced mother of three. A misfit was in no place to judge. Of course, that did not stop me from calling my loyal youngest sister to ask her tearfully, “Am I a misfit?” I believe the question would have been laughed at if she hadn’t noticed I was crying. She of course reminded me that I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, work full time, am mentally intact, do not harbor death fantasies about my x-husband, and do not have any plans to find and marry a millionaire. I was relieved. I was not a misfit. It was a good thing I had to be told that.
Now, when George Wickham said the above quote, he prefaced it with, “I have no right to give my opinion.” I agree that I had no right to judge anyone, misfit or not. I do laugh at how Wickham would say this and then immediately retell gossip and lies about Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth.
But I ask myself, when is it appropriate to judge? Wickham says that he had known Darcy too long to be an impartial judge. In my evaluation of the singles group, I had known them too little. So is there a best time to judge someone? Is it better to judge someone at the beginning like Elizabeth does to Mr. Darcy, thus setting off a terrible cascade of dislike and misunderstandings of words and gestures? Her early judgment could have cost her the very happiness she finds at the end of the book, and most definitely becomes painful for Darcy as he learns of her true opinions of him.
Or is it best to judge someone after one knows them well? My opinion on this matter is that by the time you know them so well, you love them. This love poses a problem with judging someone. If you truly know someone, then you know all their quirks, good and bad. You feel gratitude to know them when you think of the good they possess, and you laugh at the bad. At least real love works that way.
So the answer to my question that Wickham’s quote sparked, is that there is never a good time to judge. Everyone has faults and has a history that could easily label them as a misfit. Luckily I have a loyal sister who confirmed I am NOT one of them. (***me snickering***).
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