Book Review: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged that some stories are capable of resisting the passage of time.
In her most recognized work, Austen tells us the story of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet, the second of five daughters of a rural family. Her father is the owner of Longbourn state, but given that he does not have a son to inherit the property, the same must go to a cousin of his, leaving his daughters economically unsustained when he dies. It is then a matter of great importance for at least one of the sisters to marry well, and so, be able to support the others. The person who is more enthusiastic when it comes to carrying on that plan is Mrs. Bennet, whose biggest wish is to have all their daughters married. The move of a wealthy gentleman to the neighborhood seems to be what this lady has been waiting for.
Mr. Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield Park, arrives at his new home with the company of her two beautiful sisters and one of his closest friends, Mr. Darcy. During the first party, the group attends to it becomes clear that the personalities of the two friends are quite different: Bingley is good-tempered, kind and sociable, while Darcy is quiet, distant and cold. The first gets enchanted at once with Jane, Lizzy’s older sister, while Darcy looks with disdain at all the ladies in the room, getting to the point of saying that he does not consider Lizzy “pretty enough” to dance with him, a comment that comes to ears of the aforementioned and starts a kind of unspoken rivalry between them.
As the story goes on, both these characters get to know each other more and begin to revise their respective opinion about the other, but their personalities and the people and situations they meet along the way will make it difficult for them to accept and address their growing feelings towards each other. The pride of the one and the prejudices of the other are certainly capable of tearing them apart.
There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense."— Jane Austen
Why should you be reading it?
It could be difficult for some to understand why a novel about some girls whose first aspiration in life is to get married is still so well-known nowadays, and some may even consider it a retrograde reading. The world has changed and we all know that, but I do not think it will ever change so much to make Miss Austen work obsolete. If we read carefully, we can find her story is still accurate to our modern times.
I know that Jane Austen’s novels are often classified as romantic stories for women, but I believe that saying that is denying the recurrent social topics that appeared in her novels, topics that sometimes seem to be bigger than the love stories’ themselves. She does not focus only in the protagonist’s love life but gives us a social background, something that not only makes it possible to understand and relate to the characters in question but also allows us to find the similarities between the society of that time and our own.
It is true that the situation of women has experienced an enormous change since Jane Austen wrote “Pride and Prejudice”, more than two hundred years ago, but it is also true that social expectations are still high for them. Marriage is not the only destiny that us women can aspire to but, who does not have that friend that is continually depressed because she is the only one of her social circle who does not have a boyfriend? Or someone who has been pressured into a relationship because someone told them that is the right thing to do? Who has not find people that recite a list of their accomplishments in the first meeting to make a good impression? And what about people that mistrust or consider persons of a different social class to be less worthy? I do not think we are really that different. Even though rules and expectation have relaxed a little bit, in some new ways society is still as merciless as it was in the past. To this, I can relate.
When I read this book for the first time I was nearly eleven, but reading it again as an adult I started wondering how it was possible for a woman of the nineteenth century to have written such a book. She does not only seem to criticize in some way the social rules but also to make fun of them. I can tell: That woman not only had advanced ideas for her time, she also had a very ironic sense of humor! I do not think she could have created a character like Lizzy Bennet if it was not the case. In the third chapter of the book Lizzy is described as a person with “a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous”, and this is how I imagine that the author herself was like.
Another thing I love about this book are the dialogues. When you are reading it you can imagine exactly how the characters’ voices sounds, their expressions, everything! I have read “Pride and Prejudice” so many times that I can recite most of my favorite dialogues by heart, but it does not stop me from reading it again and again and find it even more delightful each time.
Some people say they love the story because they have watched the movie and they think it to be very romantic. For those people, I tell you this: You ain’t seen nothing yet. Someone said that a book should not be judged through its movie, and I agree: If you want the big, full experience of this wonderful story, I recommend you to try it in the prose. It will not disappoint you.
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