George Wickham is a major character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. He was the godson of the late Mr. Darcy, Fitzwilliam's and Georgiana's father. He was most likely named after his godfather, as was the custom in the Regency era.
Wickham was raised very closely with his godfather, who thought of him as a son. When old Darcy died, he meant to leave Wickham with a parsonage and a steady income. Mr. Darcy made sure that Wickham received his inheritance, but Wickham spent all the money, becoming broke quite soon. Wickham made plans to run off with his godsister Georgiana when she was only fifteen to Gretna Green, in Scotland. Darcy kept anything from happening and saved his sister. Since then, there has been a rivalry between Wickham and Darcy, the former who goes out of his way to slander the latter's name in all ways and to make himself look like the victim.
Wickham is forced to join the army in order to finance his life.
During the novelEdit
Wickham arrives in Meryton with the rest of the officers, and makes the acquaintance of the Bennet family. Elizabeth immediately takes a liking to him and is shocked to hear of Wickham's account of Darcy, and swears to herself to never like Mr. Darcy. She begins to like Mr. Wickham and to continue on with their relationship until he is frightened away. Wickham can only do so much to slander Mr. Darcy's name, as the other man is rich and powerful, and he has nothing to his name. Wickham starts to like Miss King.
Later, Wickham runs off with Lydia Bennet and is found by Darcy, who pays him off in order to get Wickham to actually marry Lydia. He is forever ruined in Elizabeth's eyes, however, and she dislikes him strongly, especially after she hears of how he treated Georgiana.
Wickham is a handsome man with "a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address."
Rebecca Dickson (author of "Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury") describes Wickham as "Peter Pan with a gambling problem". Wickham is a very charming man, an excellent conversationalist and possesses a gift for making friends. Unfortunately, he is also an immoral, extravagant liar who has no problem with using (or ruining) other people in order accomplish his own ends. He tends to live in the moment without giving much thought to the future and has by so doing thrown away many of the advantages that he was given due to old Mr. Darcy's patronage. Until his marriage to Lydia, his overall plan in life was to marry an heiress. He is not happy with his marriage.