Pride and Prejudice, for those of you who don’t know, is a novel by Jane Austen, originally published in 1813. The copy I read is much newer. I can tell from personal experience, and having seen many non-antique books in my time.
While PaP is widely considered a classic, I only recently endeovered to read it.
What I thought of Pride and Prejudice:
1. The first thing anyone must know about this book is that not much really happens.
2. The second thing is that it is mostly dialogue-driven.
3. The dialogue is somewhat difficult to comprehend at times.
Once you get past these debilitating hurdles, you may find Pride and Prejudice is a well-written story of deceit, romance, and:
The novel follows the lovely (As we are to assume) Elizabeth Bennet, who has a quick and sharp mouth. We begin the story with her mother and father discussing a new young man with an unfortunate name, Mr. Bingley, who has just moved near their home. At the time, young men in his position were always looking for marriage.
Mrs. Bennet concocts a wonderful scheme to have one of her 5 daughters married to the young man. At a ball, Mr. Bingley quickly becomes infatuated with the eldest of the Bennet daughters, Jane; while his friend, Mr. Darcy has a miserable time, and does not much care for anyone at all. While Mr. Bingley and Jane fall in love like characters in romance novels are wont to do, Darcy and Elizabeth give each other nasty looks, because they both clearly know that they hate each other before even saying a word.
This would be an incredibly boring and short novel if it ended there. However, quite to our convenience, Jane Austen wrote on. Jane (Bennet) is invited to visit the Mr. Bingley and his sister, and when she goes, she ends up with a cold. So, Elizabeth does the most logical thing, and walks all the way to Netherfield, and miraculously does not catch cold. Miss Bingley is very surprised to see Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and makes some rude remark to Mr. Darcy (Who just happens to end up everywhere that Elizabeth goes for the remainder of the novel) about her ankles being muddy.
It is at this time that the rude and unpleasant Mr Darcy realizes he is absolutely and totally in love with this woman whom he has now met twice. But Darcy is not the only man who sets his eyes on Elizabeth. Mr Darcy loves Elizabeth, but Elizabeth clearly hates Mr Darcy, especially after hearing some unsavoury gossip. Can Darcy convince Lizzie to marry him? Is he really who she thinks he is? Will Jane and Mr Bingley get married? Dear God, the suspense is killing you.
But really, Mr. Darcy isn’t a stalker; that was a joke.
Why You Should Read Pride and Prejudice:
PaP (Which sounds like some boyband from the 1990’s) is elegantly written and full of surprises. It is truly a story I have never seen before. It is as if M. Night Shyamalan lived in 19th century England, was a woman, and wrote a book, except nothing supernatural happened in that book. The poetic dialogue and prose add a delightful uniqueness that modern fiction does not contain. Pride and Prejudice is filled with colourful characters such as the awkward cousin Mr Collins who will inherit the Bennet estate, and so resolves that he will marry one of the Bennet girls, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a stuck-up aunt of Mr Darcy’s. What I’ve described in this review does the book absolutely no justice, as I did not wish to spoil too much of the plot. Pride and Prejudice is a reflection on the 19th Century Genteel life; including their ideas of love and life (Which are very different from ours).
When we say “I love you,” it has an incredibly strong meaning. It is not something someone would say to another who they met only a few times. However, their idea of love (As presented in this book) is essentially what we would consider a “crush”. Indeed , characters use “love” and “like” completely interchangeably. In the 1800’s, you would not ask a woman to go on a date with you, you would ask her to marry you; which is much less strenuous and reduces the courting process significantly.
One of the most important things in their lives is balls. A man who dances with many women is quite the gentleman, and a man who does not dance much is very rude.
“You shall hear then — but prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever seeing him in Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball — and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances! I am sorry to pain you — but so it was. He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner. Mr. Darcy, you cannot deny the fact.”
Their dances are also immensely more fun than our current ones.
The worth of a man was based solely on his income, and the duty of a woman was to find a suitable husband who could provide for her. Love was based on these qualities: Wealth for a woman; beauty, youth, and class for a man. The courting process was not much more than “I have money, will you marry me?” as opposed to ours which requires a true physical attraction by both parties first and foremost, then some time dating before even thinking of marriage.
Abandon Hope (Of the plot not potentially being spoiled), All Ye Who Read on:
One thing I absolutely loved about this book is how much I identified with poor Mr Darcy. As he says
“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.” – Pride and Prejudice
This shows us that while he was only perceived as an unpleasant fellow, he was simply shy at first when meeting Miss Bennet. The scene in which he walks in on Elizabeth while her hosts are out, sits in silence, then leaves was just brilliantly written, and Darcy deserves a much better woman that Elizabeth to have as his wife. I was not a fan of her judgemental character.
If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. ~Mr. Darcy
These are the words of a Gentleman.
In spite of Elizabeth’s uncivil rejection, Darcy helps her family simply for her; Darcy is the embodiment of the true idea of love which has always fascinated me. I see him as a reflection of myself: a quiet man who means well, is well liked, but sometimes misunderstood. Elizabeth; however, is quite the opposite. She judges Darcy immediately for the worst, dismisses him, and downright insults him, and then falls in love with him when she realizes who he truly is. But I suppose everyone deserves second chances, even Elizabeth Bennet.