“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners- one of the most popular novels of all time- that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.
This book has been on sitting on my bookshelf for what seems like forever, therefore, I finally decided to pick it up, and I absolutely loved it! Although this is a classic, it wasn’t that difficult to follow and it was not overly verbose, so if you are afraid that it is going to be a classic like Dickens, don’t worry because it is probably easier to understand than you think! For this review I have decided to keep it spoiler-free and while I will probably not be able to represent this novel with the eloquence it demands, hopefully I can convince you to read this book yourself and immerse yourself in Austen’s well crafted world!
When the story begins we meet Mr. and Mrs. Bennet a married couple with five daughters. Mrs. Bennet has just become aware that a wealthy and eligible bachelor named Mr. Bingley has moved very near where they live. Mrs. Bennet wants Mr. Bennet to go introduce himself to Mr. Bingley to ensure that Mr. Bingley will eventually meet one of his daughters, fall in love with her, and then marry her. Shortly after, all of the Bennets go to a ball where they meet the famous Mr. Bingley. However, Mr. Bingley is not alone, he comes with his best friend Mr. Darcy, and from here the enriching plot begins, and the readers witness all five daughters’ endeavors to attain happiness.
If you are thinking that this plot doesn’t sound action packed you are exactly right! There are certain plot developments which are intriguing, however, on the most part, this novel just follows Elizabeth Bennet and her journey. Even though there are no enthralling plot twists, or on-the- edge-of-your-seat-reading-with-super-human-speed scenes, I still continued flipping the pages of the book with enthusiasm because of my amusement of the characters. This is certainly a testament to Austen’s amazing writing ability and witty dialogue; from the first line of the story I was hooked, and this book held onto my attention for the whole journey.
Going off of that point the writing in this novel could not have been better. It was descriptive, lush, and brilliant. I also really enjoyed the satirical and sarcastic tone. Reading this book was like having a conversation with a snarky person who keeps saying sassy comments in a deadpan voice while raising his or her eyebrow. It is not that Austen hates her characters, but rather, she is amused by them and the trouble they cause, and she is not afraid to highlight their foibles. Such as when she describes Mr. Collins, a foolish family relative of the Bennets, she directly states that his pompous behaviors are stupid. In many of her descriptions of characters, or her dialogue, Austen’s mocking tone leaves this book a piece of comedic genius, which often left me with a goofy grin planted on my face.
Something I very much enjoyed was that there were not any purposeless characters in this novel, each character divulged a lesson or moral to be learned. Although Kitty and Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet sisters greatly annoyed and frustrated me, I saw that there purpose was to add plot to the novel and also to show us the dangers of the mindset that any marriage brings happiness. Another important truth was displayed through my favorite character, Charlotte Lucas, a 27 year old young woman who commits a tragic yet acceptable action of marrying a man she does not particularly love because she knows he will provide for her. It is for this reason that I love Jane Austen. Although everyone wants to fall madly in love Austen almost shoves it our faces that not everyone ends up with the person they are meant to be with and happily ever afters are not always plausible. Austen illustrates that love is something most people have to earn, and that economic necessity and lust are often an even greater part of a marriage than love.
Finally, I want to discuss Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, I am just going to come out and say it (prepare to gasp), but I did not like Elizabeth. I understand why everyone loves Elizabeth Bennet and I think she is a very strong female lead who stands by her beliefs, but she is very cruel to her family and she thinks way too highly of herself and her intelligence causing her to be blinded by her prejudices. On the other hand, I do love Mr. Darcy. He suffers from the same pride and prejudices that Elizabeth does, but he handles them better in my opinion because he spends most of this novel repairing the damage he caused at the beginning of the novel.
I thought Pride and Prejudice was simply going to be a book about Elizabeth’s courtship, and while it was, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was much more to this book. Under Austen’s portrayal of society and class lies a satirical and cynical tone which I loved. As long as all of Austen’s other books are as ironic as this one, I think she has found a new fan in me.