My last book has inspired me to read some of the “classic” novels of English literature. I was one of those kids who actually did read Pride and Prejudice in high school (Billy Budd, Sailor was the only one I ever SparkNoted, I swear!), and anyone who didn’t read it is missing out on some truly entertaining commentary by Miss Austen. This was a novel I quite enjoyed revisiting!
Title – Pride and Prejudice
Author – Jane Austen
Page count – 314
**NO spoilers for who marries who, I promise 🙂
Pride and Prejudice is set in early 19th century England, and if you can get used to the proper, antiquated style of English, it is a very funny, romantic story full of scandal and proposals. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have five daughters, including our main character Elizabeth, and it is Mrs. Bennett’s dearest wish in life to have them all married off to wealthy, important men as quickly as possible. I know this next bit is a controversial subject, but if you are going to watch a film version, I would recommend…
…the movie, not the TV mini-series. While I do prefer Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (no offense to Matthew Macfadyen), the rest of the characters are better in the movie.
To sum up (some of) our characters’ traits: Mr. Bennett is ignorant, Mrs. Bennett is vain, Lydia is foolish, Mary is dryly stoic, Mr. Collins is obtusely unaware, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is entitled and condescending, and – the source of the book’s title – Mr. Darcy is proud, and Elizabeth is prejudiced. A few have redeeming qualities – Jane’s optimism, Mr. Bennett’s affection, and Elizabeth’s wit, for example – but the humor in this book comes from Austen’s ability to create caricatures and brutally make fun of them.
An example is Mr. and Mrs. Bennett conversing about their daughters’ marriage prospects:
“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all silly and ignorant like other girls, but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”
“Mr. Bennett, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves.”
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least.” (p. 4)