Reading Pick: Pride and Prejudice

Hello Readers!  I know a lot of you are somewhat eager for school to begin and life to slow down a little as we near Fall and all it has to offer.  I know I’m looking forward to having a weekend free to curl up with my favorite book and a cup of tea while the world outside goes on.  My favorite book that I love to read each Fall: Pride and Prejudice.

Now, some of you may have read this book before.  In fact, this is often a favorite Jane Austen novel among readers, and one of her more famous books.  It has been made into several films, and its most notable take is Bridget Jones’s Diary.  I know that the Bridget Jones trilogy was written by Helen Fielding, but the story line is based on Pride and Prejudice.  And, in my honest opinion, I loved the original story.

Many of you may think it’s a romance, but it actually is more of a comedy than a romance.  Miss Elizabeth Bennett, the main character in the novel, is full of wit and charm, and she often admonishes or judges Mr. Fitzgerald Darcy for his prejudice against those of lesser income than he.  Yet, it becomes very obvious that Elizabeth is just as prejudice (if not more so) against the rich than Darcy is of the poor.  She is determined to marry for love and feels that all marriages should be based on love with such reverence that she is quick to judge those that marry, or live, for more economic purposes.

On top of this hypocrisy is her family.  Elizabeth is quick to even judge her family for their faults, and she almost acts as though she is better than them without realizing her own faults until it is almost too late.  Her father is very much a procrastinator, her mother a hypochondriac with a penchant for gossip and rumors.  Her sisters all vary in their etiquette, as well.  Jane is a sweet girl whose easy-going manner is mistaken for boredom and carelessness.  Mary is the plain Jane dimwit.  Kitty follows the younger Lydia everywhere, and Lydia is the shameless flirt who is spoiled for being the baby.

Add to this that all five Bennett sisters are looking for marriages, along with being one of the richer families in their rural area and often looking down on their neighbors, and they are judged by Mr. Darcy, Mr. Charles Bingley and his sisters Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, not to mention other characters in the book.  I know it sounds convoluted and confusing, if a little ironic and sarcastic.  It is all of this, plus it’s funny.

I didn’t always think it was funny.  In fact, I hated the book the first time I tried to read it for my Introduction to English Literature class while studying for my undergrad degree in English Lit and Writing.  I can remember lamenting to my instructor that I hated the novel, that I found it dull and sappy, like an overdone romance novel.  I had read that before, many times.  I didn’t want to read this pomp and circumstance garbage as well!  And my instructor told me I was reading it wrong.  She said, “Look for the tongue-in-cheek humor in every sentence and you’ll see it.”

And so I did.  And I found it with the very first line.  “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  The irony of this line is that it is not true that all rich men want a wife, and it wasn’t the truth then.  However, it would be a truth among the mothers of young women of the time to attempt to marry their daughters off to rich men; it’s a practice seen even today in some instances.  Moms always want to see their daughters married off well, regardless of the man’s intentions (or the woman’s, for that matter).  So, this line truly represents the humor and irony in a mother’s meddling, and it goes haywire from there.

If you add in the hypochondriac of a mom, who spends her free time gossiping with her sister, and the procrastinator of a dad, who often mocks the mom, you have the makings for one crazy family.  Add in that each of the sisters has an eye on someone else, and several love triangles exist, and there is bound to be comedy.  Caroline loves Darcy, who has a love/hate relationship with Elizabeth, who pines for Wickham, the scoundrel that runs after three or four women, and it continues from there.  Now, add in relatives and relations, and their opinions and meddling.  And it continues its spiral out of control.

As crazy as the book sounds, I urge you to read it.  If you’ve read it before, I urge you to read it again.  This is the perfect time to pick up a copy from your library and read to your heart’s content.  Tell me, Readers, who is your favorite character in the book?  What did you think of it?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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