“Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.” – p 9
With the spate of films that exist telling versions of this novel, I’ve very little doubts that the majority of my readers know the general plotline of this classic novel. Elizabeth Bennet is the second eldest of five daughters, who though they are daughters of a gentleman, have very little fortune and the sad future of being kicked out of their own house when their father dies unless they manage to find husbands. And since they don’t have much in the way of financial appeal, it will be rather hard for them to find suitable husbands. When the rich, young, and amiable Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood, the girls’ mother is determined he will marry one of them – preferably Jane, the eldest and most beautiful. Mr. Bingley has brought his good-looking and surpassingly wealthy friend Mr. Darcy with him, but Mr. Darcy has proved to be a proud and unwanted visitor in the neighborhood. Elizabeth finds herself disgusted with Mr. Darcy, especially when it seems he will come between Jane and Mr. Bingley. Along with Jane, she must make the best of the circumstances provided for her, including a mother that will stop at no embarrassment to procure them husbands, and a sister who has determined to be the most outrageous flirt the town has ever seen.
“Teasing, teasing man! I will think no more of him.” – p 328
This is, without a doubt, the most well-known of Jane Austen’s novels. The wit and exuberance of this novel far outstrip the others she wrote after this one. Elizabeth Bennet has emerged as one of the great literary heroines. While you think you may know the story because you’ve watched one of the film versions, I urge you to pick up the book if you haven’t already. You gain a great deal more by having Elizabeth as a narrator – you gain more insight into her thoughts and feelings as they happen, not just by looking at an actress’s interpretation.
When you think about it, Austen novels rarely have a very developed plot-line. They’re all about romance, and women finding good marriages or worthless young men toying with young ladies’ hearts. But so much is done with the little plot that there is. The entire novel, while mainly a character development of Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and a little bit of Charlotte. It’s a treatise on the consequences of marriage, the ways to go about marriage. The right ways and the wrong. We have five distinct examples of marriages within the book, examined for their worth and purpose. Some are found lacking in the passion department but still work perfectly well due to hard work and commitment. Something a lot of us could learn from.
The wonderful thing about Jane Austen novels is their accuracy of feeling. Rarely have readers had the opportunity to see exactly what a woman was thinking when she acted a certain way, particularly in regards to the romantic field. While the act of courtship and wooing is vastly different today than in the Regency period, women still feel similarly when it comes to finding a partner. There’s still insecurity, indignation, wounded pride, and jumping to conclusions. If ever a man wanted to gain insight into women’s minds…he need merely pick up and study a Jane Austen novel.
“Pride and Prejudice” was written by Jane Austen and published in 1813.