Anyone who knows me knows I love Jane Austen. It was inevitable that she and her novels would appear on my blog. First up is a brief review of Pride and Prejudice.
Last year marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was originally published in 1813. Now, before you stop reading this review about a 200-year-old novel, let me mention that there have been hundreds of literary adaptations ranging in titles from Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. In addition, there have been nearly as many screen adaptations—a version by A.A. Milne in 1936 (yes, the author of Winnie the Pooh), a Broadway musical, and Bridget Jones’s Diary. One of the most popular versions is the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley.
The novel opens with the famous phrase: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” and the rest of the novel seeks to prove this “universal truth.” It is no coincidence that the novel’s original title was First Impressions, because the central characters Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy immediately dislike each other based only on their initial opinions. Austen’s novels have remained popular because of her humor and her ability to create realistic characters. If you read Pride and Prejudice, you will definitely laugh and probably recognize someone you know in at least one of the many characters.
Several couples move toward marriage throughout the novel—including Elizabeth’s sister Jane and charming Mr. Bingley, but this novel is not simply a love story. Some couples face more challenges than others. Darcy and Elizabeth in particular must overcome their faults (of, you guessed it, pride and prejudice) before they can understand and love each other. Austen says that “We are all fools in love.” Of course, I don’t have space to discuss all the subplots such as the scandal of Elizabeth’s sixteen-year-old sister running away with a militia officer or of Mr. Collins proposing to two women within 11 days. You’ll simply have to read the novel to discover them yourself! But, to help you navigate the busy world of Pride and Prejudice, here’s a character map to help you keep them straight. And one last thing for any men who actually finished reading this book review: take notes on Mr. Darcy. He is the original for most men in romantic comedies. Ladies love him.