I had a lot of fun reading Pride and Prejudice. Somehow I’d managed to avoid spoilers for a hundred year old book; I’d never seen the films nor the movie. Seeing my own opinion on specific characters was also fun to look back on. I tried writing a review chapter by chapter since it’s such a long book to better remember my first impressions and in doing so I am reading the book like any other fan who read it in the late 19th century.
The main reason this book has endured for so long is it is true escapist fantasy that is close enough to reality, the reader could imagine it really happening to them. It’s the typical When Harry Met Sally love story. Boy meets girl, they hate each other then slowly fall in love. There’s also the fantasy of having multiple men in vying for one girl’s attention, even if that girl despises those men (Mr. Collins falls into that category especially). Finally the ultimate fantasy: someone changing for the better because of love.
The book begins with Elizabeth explaining her current situation. Her parents have four daughters and there is an undercurrent of worry that some of them won’t be provided for. Mrs. Bennet especially is neurotic and obsessed with finding the perfect matches for her daughters. Elizabeth had a suitor in Mr. Collins in the beginning but turned him down since he was annoying to her. This disappointed her father quite a bit but he let her have that decision. The first devestation happens when Mr. Collins marries Elizabeth’s best friend and knows that friend will be living in their family’s house when Mr. Bennet passes away. The majority of the book is about the family visiting various houses and talking to different people hoping one of them will be a good match.
During the time that Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, there were soldiers stationed all around England and its colonies. Soldiers were often quartered in private residences with families who hosted them. It was common in that time for soldiers to be seen as unsavory and known to go from girl to girl, leaving a dishonored family behind. One such soldier was Mr. Wickam who at first is seen as a nice and respectable man.
Mr. Wickam reminds me so much of every single man I’ve ever met. He is good with his words and is easily able to convince Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy is the worst man ever. This helps fuel the animosity between the two and prevent their feelings from coming to light sooner.
After Mr. Darcy begins to fall for Elizabeth it’s plain to the reader what is happening but Elizabeth is blissfully unaware of Mr. Darcy’s true feelings. It was quite entertaining to see Elizabeth mention she frequented the gardens near Rosings thinking Mr. Darcy would never return. When Mr. Darcy brought the letter that professed his feelings I was so glad that Elizabeth didn’t have an immediate change of heart. A lesser book would’ve ended there. Mr. Darcy told Elizabeth that he had changed but he allowed his actions to speak for themselves without reward.
Elizabeth’s younger sister Lydia fell for the dashing Mr. Wickam and he convinced her that they’d be wed in London. In Lydia’s letter it showed how childish her daydreams of being Mrs. Wickam were. It’s easy to forget when stepping into the shoes of Elizabeth that not everyone has her common sense in that time period. Lydia is a nice reminder that teenagers will always be teenagers no matter the era.
Without anyone’s knowledge, Mr. Darcy looked for Mr. Wickam and Lydia to make sure he married her. It took a lot of bribing and he made the Gardiners swear their secrecy in his involvement. Had Lydia not been too chatty, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy would’ve never talked about their feelings.
It was a lovely love story. I look forward to reading more Jane Austen in the future. Look here to see the Twilight Edition cover of the Pride and Prejudice book I read