Austenfest Week Two: Pride and Prejudice

Spoilers: Though I will never give away an ending, many key aspects of this book are relayed here.  Please don’t continue if you would rather discover them for yourself!

Mrs. Bennet and her daughters in Universal's 2005 adaptation

Probably Austen’s most beloved story, P&P follows protagonist Lizzy Bennet for roughly a year of her life. With a kind father, three silly younger sisters and an absurd though loving mother, Lizzy and her older sister Jane attempt to acquaint themselves with the Bingleys, a rich family that has just moved into a neighboring estate, without too much embarrassment. Jane and Charles Bingley are quickly drawn together, while Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s friend, spurns Lizzy with his haughty ways. Officers arrive in the nearby town of Meryton, and the two youngest sisters, Lydia and Kitty, along with their mother are beside themselves with glee.  We are introduced to the handsome and charming Major Wickham who grew up with Mr. Darcy, and quickly tells Lizzy of the unforgivable things Darcy has done to him. Lizzy finds herself enjoying his company, though this is eclipsed with the arrival of Mr. Collins, their cousin and heir to the estate. Mr. Collins, a  clergyman to the indomitable and rich Lady Catherine de Bourg, proves to be a ridiculous and  fatuous character, who quickly sets his sights on the mortified Lizzy as his future bride. After a hilarious and unsuccessful proposal to Lizzy, Mr. Collins weds her good friend Charlotte, to the surprise of many.

 Meanwhile, the Bingleys leave and seem to sever contact with a heartbroken Jane. Lizzy soon visits Mr. and Mrs. Collins in Kent, and who should show up there but Mr. Darcy, as Lady Catherine’s nephew!  Lizzy holds in her ire, as she knows the truth of Darcy, and is surprised when after a few weeks he proposes to her despite his prejudices! 

Penguin UK, 2006

And this is only halfway, people! The plot thickens; fifteen-year-old Lydia runs off with an immoral man, the Bingleys  come back, and Lizzy undergoes a change of heart and a scary encounter with Lady Catherine. When everything seems to go awry we discover the true nature of many people, and end with a conclusion both happy and sad.
 
Well I must have you hooked by now. With this Austen novel, we see how little power a respectable woman with a seriously flawed family and little money has in the regency era.  Greatly dependent on a good marriage, Lizzy, despite having strong morals and determination, has few options to secure a happy and  fulfilling life. Austen highlights this well with enduring hilarity and sorrow, and gives you a story that will likely become a favourite. Austen’s novels all seem to revolve around women and love or marriage, but what really sets P&P apart are the wonderful characters she has created. The drama and humour that is entrenched in this book will likely glue you to it’s pages, and as the characters come alive we get a wonderful glimpse into the life of a young woman at the turn of the nineteenth century.
 
Note: I would also like to point out that fans of Pride and Prejudice have ample well-written fan-fiction and film adaptations at their disposal.  There are hundreds of sequels published which range in topic from zombies to over-the-top romance, and almost every other story line you can think of! A future post I am working on will hopefully sort out a few of the good ones.
 
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3 responses

  1. I’ve seen the movie but never read the book. I’m going to have to have a go at it because I’m sure the book is much better. Awesome review!

  2. I’m not sure if you’d even like it, but you should definitely try watching “Bride & Prejudice”! Nothing could further elevate such a classic story as the breaking out into Bollywood song and dance!

  3. Pingback: In Celebration of Books & Blogging | A Novel Thing

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