PRIDE AND PREJUDICE MAY BE MY NEW FAVORITE BOOK. Elizabeth Bennet is hilarious and genuine, and she will forever be one of my top favorite protagonists.
I think when most people hear the title “Pride and Prejudice,” they think of the romance between Lizzy and Mr Darcy. That’s definitely what I thought before reading it, but Jane Austen is way beyond simple romance. Jane Austen is a perfect comedian, and she loves making fun of everyone in her novel, especially in regard to the society she lived in.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely romance, and you will absolutely ship Mr Darcy and Lizzy from the very beginning. Hate to love romances are among the best kinds, and Lizzy really hates Mr Darcy when she first meets him. But you know the drill; Lizzy eventually realizes how secretly shy and sweet Mr Darcy is and falls totally in love with him.
“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Mrs Bennet is in a frenzied hurry to marry off her daughters before her husband dies and they lose their property, thus we have the most brilliant opening line ever:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Potential spoilers ahead, although considering the novel has been published for a couple centuries, I think it’s safe to share.
Coincidentally, two very rich and handsome bachelors arrive in town, and Mrs Bennet does her best to entertain them in hopes of the two of them choosing to marry two of her daughters. Unfortunately, Mr Bennet isn’t as interested in entertaining Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley or his wife’s scheme. A lot of misunderstandings and chaos ensue, mostly as the result of, you guessed it, the characters’ pride and prejudices. Until, finally, everything works out and Lizzy finds her happy ending.
While the plot seems simple, the characters are definitely not…
In fact, Pride and Prejudice is so great because of its characters. Otherwise, this plot would be pretty boring. Lizzy’s social criticism, wit, and independence brings the novel to life.
Lizzy’s parents are quite the couple.
Mr Bennet is a horrible husband, but for some reason you feel like perhaps he isn’t so bad… until you think a bit harder and realize he truly does not care for his family at all, except for Lizzy. Seriously, I hate him, although he is pretty funny and has some heartwarming moments.
Mrs Bennet is… annoying. At least, that’s what I thought at first. But I quickly realized that her annoying behavior was a result of her constant worry and stress over her daughters’ well being. Really, Mr Bennet would have let his daughters become homeless and on their own. Unfortunately, they desperately needed Mrs Bennet’s scheming.
Mr Bennet’s behavior is often considered acceptable because it points out how women shouldn’t have needed to marry to be okay, yet that is the case in Lizzy’s society. None of Mr Bennet’s estate could be left to his daughters simply because of their gender. BUT this is ridiculed enough through Lizzy and the other female characters. Mr Bennet should have been less selfish and lazy and should have tried harder to ensure his daughters’ security.
The characters are incredible, but some do not deserve their bad reputations.
Lizzy is often the “reasonable” one, but her younger sisters are only unreasonable for wanting to have a whimsical and silly childhood. Let’s face it, they’re teens and young adults and they’re not going to be as responsible as Lizzy and her older sister, Jane, who are in their mid-twenties. Yet, the youngest sisters are repeatedly ridiculed for totally normal behavior.
Okay, Lydia does push things a bit far and totally screws up without any regard for her family, but she’s so young! Let her live and learn without A BILLION instances of other characters shaming her.
Mr Darcy was pretty basic and two-dimensional, but I don’t care. How often are female love interests flat and boring? Too often. Lizzy’s narration and personal transformation make up for anything lacking in Darcy’s characterization.
Overall? This is a classic you don’t want to miss.
Jane Austen knows how to subtly mock every aspect and character from her society, and she does so constantly and hilariously. Some lines were so harsh, under the surface, that I couldn’t imagine being on the receiving end of Austen’s wrath or humor.
Pride and Prejudice might be a slow novel that you have to pay super close attention to if you’re to appreciate the beauty and humor encased, but it is very worth the time and effort.