Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life. (from Goodreads)
Thoughts: This is the second time I’ve read Pride and Prejudice– the first was when I was in high school when a friends recommended it to me. I remember enjoying it and some of the plot, but my idea if the book has been mostly shaped by movies and tv specials. I set myself a goal of reading the first three of Austen’s works this year; the fact that this year is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice‘s publication was just a bonus!
One of the interesting things about Austen’s writing is her lack of descriptions about her characters and the world they inhabit. She doesn’t describe anything! All we know about how Elizabeth looks is that she has ‘dark eyes’ and that she is pretty but not as pretty as Jane, and we only know this because characters in the book made these comments, not Austen. We don’t know what Meryton or Longbourn look like. We only know what the weather is like if it is important to the plot (such as the rain when Jane travels by horse to Netherfield). To be honest, I didn’t really notice this lack of description when I was reading; it was only after when I took notice. Still, I found it very interesting.
As for the story itself, even though I knew the plot beforehand, I was still quickly absorbed in Austen’s world, most likely because of the characters she created. Austen has a wonderful ability of creating characters that we can easily recognize as real people. One of the most convincing characters I thought was Mrs. Bennet. She’s not the smartest, nicest, or unselfish person in the book, but it is undeniable that she was one of the most true to life characters. I’ve noticed that in movie or tv adaptions of the book that while Mrs. Bennet is always portrayed as Austen wrote her- a silly, unintelligent, and negligent parent- Mr. Bennet doesn’t seem to get the same treatment. He is just as bad a parent as she is and in a way he is worse; Mr. Bennet is content to sit back and laugh at the ridiculousness of his family while Mrs. Bennet is at least somewhat concerned as to what will happen to her daughters when their father dies, even if most of her interest in seeing them get married is selfish in the sense that when her husband dies she will have some means of support through her son-in laws.
Charlotte and Mr. Collins were another interesting pair, I thought. I like the fact that it is known that it is Charlotte, not Mr. Collins, who orchestrated the match (although Mr. Collins is blissfully unaware of this fact). Although I think I side more with Elizabeth in regards to Charlotte and Mr. Collins’ marriage, I do appreciate that Charlotte decided that she wanted it and went and made it come about. At the beginning I thought that Mr. Collins was just dreadfully boring (I would groan whenever I saw that he was commencing on one of his long speeches), pompous, socially ill footed, and not capable of reading other characters feelings. But despite this, I didn’t think that he was a bad person. However, with his letter to Mr. Bennet after receiving the distressing news of Lydia absconding with Mr. Wickham, showed just how narrow-minded and unforgiving he could be. If I had ever had any doubt about him being suited to a career in the church they would have been confirmed after reading the terrible letter, completely devoid of any possibility of forgiveness, that he sent to Mr. Bennet.
As for the rest of the book, I did have trouble being convinced at just how quickly Elizabeth fell in love with Mr. Darcy. To me, it felt like just because she discovered that Mr. Darcy is actually a nice person, and someone deserving of her respect, that she decided ‘well, he’s a good guy so I might as well marry him.’ It might of come across this way to me because Austen does not give us the innermost thoughts of her characters most of the time, but regardless I couldn’t shake the feeling that her falling in love with him as a bit too rushed for my taste.
Regardless, I did thoroughly enjoy rereading Pride and Prejudice, and am very excited to finally have my own copy of the book! However, since I read Sense and Sensibility earlier in the year, after this reread I came to the conclusion that I prefer Austen’s first book more. As soon as a get a copy I plan on rereading Mansfield Park!