September 05, 2011
Yes, that's right, Pride and Prejudice, the adored, despised, glorified, belittled, and controversial Regency romance. I recently read it as part of my literature study, and decided to share a few of my thoughts on the classic beloved by generations of swooning girls.
I opened P&P's pages with a bit of my own prejudice, and was pleasantly surprised to find large quantities of vivacious dialog, instead of the blocks of fashion-centered, dress-describing description that I dreaded. The story moved well. The plot was intricate enough to stretch the mind, but not as wound and bound in a honeycomb of subplots and additional characters that writers like Dickens employed. (Not that I'm complaining about Dickens.)
Opinion on Select Characters:
Elizabeth Bennet: (Main character) Not particularly memorable. It's easy to relate to her situation, but she has neither the sagacity of Jeanne in The Reign of Terror, or the vivacity of Diana Vernon in Rob Roy. In Elizabeth's defense, she is refreshingly different from her other sisters, and quite the opposite of her vulgar mother.
Mr. Darcy: (Main character's eventual love interest) For some reason, Mr. Darcy has been idolized as the woman's "perfect man," and I expected him to be dashing, cheerful, gallant, etc. He turned out to be a pretty good chap after all, who starts out being quite prideful and gets a much-needed dose of reality. He was properly passionate about his love for Elizabeth at the end, without degenerating into mushy sentimentality. (For an example of annoying male melodrama see Jasper in Cooper's The Pathfinder.)
Jane Bennet: (Elizabeth's older sister) A good type of girl. Rather naive, but modest, loyal, and feminine. It's easy to wish her happiness in life.
Mr. Wickham: (Most villainous character) Jane Austen did an excellent job of creating a three-dimensional villain. He was vindictive, knavish, and unscrupulous, without being the glowering squint-eyed fellow with an evil laugh that villains are often portrayed as.
Mr. Bennet: (Elizabeth's father) Probably a realistic portrayal of a Regency father, but woefully neglectful of his daughters' training and relations with the world. I do give him great lenience due to his marriage with Mrs. Bennet.
Mrs. Bennet: (Elizabeth's mother) Annoying and vulgar. P&P would have been more satisfying if she had been punished in some way for her ridiculous and insensitive ways; something after the fashion of Silas Wegg in Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.
Mr. Collins: (Elizabeth's cousin) Delightfully annoying. A very enjoyable caricature. One of P&P's most memorable characters, in my opinion.
My favorite quote from P&P relates to Mrs. Bennet.
Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet: "You have no compassion of my poor nerves."
Mr. Bennet to Mrs. Bennet: "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 twenty years at least."
Pride and Prejudice was more interesting than I expected and gives an excellent perspective on Regency England, but is not deserving of the idolization it has received.
Pride and Prejudice in 34 words:
(I can't resist having this bit of fun)
Mr. Darcy: I am giving you the honor of marrying me.
Elizabeth: I abhor you.
Months later. . .
Elizabeth: Do you still want to marry me?
Mr. Darcy: Of course!
They live happily ever after.
Tueri a vulnere,