“‘Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.'”
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813) is one of the most accessible and beloved classics out there. It has inspired countless adaptations. Some, like the BBC mini-series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, have been conservative and true to the text. In contrast, others, such as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, have created innovative and refreshing new takes on the beloved classic. If you are looking to get into classic literature but aren’t sure where to start, Pride and Prejudice is definitely a good one to try.
Difficulty Level: 2/5
The Elevator Synopsis:
Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest of the five Bennet daughters, meets the wealthy Fitzwilliam Darcy at a ball she attended with her family. There, his pride manages to not only insult the entire community but also Elizabeth in particular. However, as their paths cross again and again, both people are forced to rethink their first impressions (which was the working title) of each other. Much more complex than a generic Cinderella story, Austen’s most famous work, Pride and Prejudice focuses on themes such as class differences, the importance of community, virtue, and of course, pride and prejudice.
If there is anything that this novel values, it is the authentic self. Again and again, affectation and conceit are criticized in favor of sincerity. The reader is led to condemn Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst’s shallow concern for Jane’s health, laugh at Mr. Collins’s studied compliments, and dislike Mary’s pretensions. For example, at the ball where Elizabeth first meets Darcy, Austen writes:
“Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner…. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well.”
Emma (Austen, 1815) may have praised humility, and Sense and Sensibility (1811) balance. But Pride and Prejudice, it’s all about authenticity.
Another part of the novel that struck me was the commitment to community. Again and again, characters consult with each other and form worldviews contingent with the feelings of those around them. After Elizabeth learns about Darcy and Wickham’s past from Wickham, she runs to Jane to discuss. Austen herself even writes that “the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was absolutely necessary.” Characters are praised for their devotion to their community. Elizabeth condemns Darcy for ruining Jane’s happiness, and Darcy in turn seeks to protect his sister’s reputation. I wonder how the two main characters’ communities are changed by their marriage.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!