Friday, April 15, 2016

Classics Corner: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 Reviewed by Ambrea

(Note:  after last Friday's review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we thought it was only fair to review the original.)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen chronicles events in the life of Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters (Jane, Lydia, Mary, and Catherine), as her father—a man of no great wealth, by any means, but with a wickedly sarcastic—and mother attempt to find them suitable husbands.  For Jane and Elizabeth, as eldest daughters, they are implored by their overbearing (and gossipy) mother to find husbands, particularly ones with fortunes or title—like Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Mr. Charles Bingley.  Pride and Prejudice is a slow-growing romance filled with interconnected webs of acquaintances, romantic aspirations, and various scandals.

To be perfectly honest, Jane Austen’s novel is a soap opera waiting to happen.  Within the pages of Pride and Prejudice, there’s romance, melodrama, elopement, social schemes, scandal, and much more.  This book has it all for the lover of Victorian—or, I suppose, Regency is more applicable—literature, but minus the backstabbing, revenge-plotting and evil twin discovering that modern soap operas sometimes afford.

Well, perhaps there is some backstabbing.  I can’t readily claim Caroline Bingley innocent of any malicious intent—or Lady Catherine, for that matter.  Both are ready social climbers and quite capable of doing anything within their power to get what they want, what they think ladies of their class deserve.  And there’s certainly more than enough scandal for everyone, especially when Lydia, who’s headstrong, flirtatious, and prone to making terrible decisions when it comes to romance, gets thrown into the mix.

Austen does a spectacular job of creating a compelling romance with intriguing and lovable characters (and not so loveable characters), who show remarkable and recognizable growth.  Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, in particular, have an incredible capacity for change as they discover one another’s faults and, more importantly, uncover the affection they hold for one another.  It’s a rather sweet romance, one of the most iconic relationships in fiction, and it’s certainly worth reading at once—if only to see what all the fuss is about.

I will point out that Pride and Prejudice is sometimes difficult to read.  Austen manages to create memorable characters, who are greatly affected by the social expectations and class-consciousness of her day, and she crafts an unmistakably wonderful romance; however, her work sometimes feels dense and it’s occasionally difficult to understand.  It’s a product of time, which means it reflects the tone and diction that’s very different from modern English, and it sometimes proves challenging.  I find it’s a book best appreciated the second time around.

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