Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Classic Literature | Romance
Released January 28, 1813
Goodreads | Amazon
Pride and Prejudice is the most well-known of Jane Austen’s novels, and the sort of book that most people read in high school. For whatever reason, I didn’t read any of Austen’s novels in school, though, after reading it now, I wish I had.
When I finally picked up Pride and Prejudice a few days ago, I assumed I would appreciate it, but I didn’t know that I was absolutely going to love it. I couldn’t put it down.
Pride and Prejudice is the original hate-to-love story. Our heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, meets Mr. Darcy when his friend Mr. Bingley moves into a large estate near the Bennets. Elizabeth’s mother is an annoying woman obsessed with marrying off her five daughters, and after hearing of Mr. Bingley’s wealth, is convinced that one of her daughters will marry him.
The eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, does indeed catch the eye of Mr. Bingley, and it seems like they are heading down the path to matrimony. During balls and social gatherings, Elizabeth learns to loathe Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, believing him to be arrogant.
Elizabeth’s opinion of Mr. Darcy becomes even more sour when she meets a soldier named George Wickham, who tells Elizabeth of how Mr. Darcy has kept Wickham from riches promised to him from Mr. Darcy’s late father.
The rest of the story is Elizabeth learning that she shouldn’t make snap judgments about people. She soon learns that Wickham isn’t who he claims to be, and she’s horrified to find out that her first impression of Mr. Darcy is far from the truth.
Elizabeth Bennet is such a wonderful female character, especially once you consider that the novel was written in the early 1800s. At a time when it was expected for women to be meek and dutiful wives, Elizabeth isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She also values truth, honesty, and doing the right thing, all of which are wonderful virtues. I feel as though Elizabeth’s character is one of the reasons Pride and Prejudice is as popular as it is.
The most important theme in Pride and Prejudice is the idea of marrying for love, rather than to improve wealth or status. In the 1800s when the story takes place, marrying for love was quite rare. The relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is contrasted by the marriage of Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas, who marries a man she does not love simply because she is afraid of becoming a burden to her family, and she is convinced that she cannot afford the luxury of marrying for love.
There was so much I adored about this novel. The language, while archaic, was beautiful, and I loved that the book gives the reader such a grand view of life in the early 1800s. The story is engaging and kept me guessing, although I assume most people have more knowledge of the story than I did going into it (which was essentially none at all). The ending left me smiling.
The day after finishing the book, I watched the film adaptation featuring Kiera Knightly. While I enjoyed the film a great deal, it was far from as good as the novel.
I adored Pride and Prejudice, and it’s made me want to dive into all of Austen’s other works. If you have recommendations for which of her novels I should read next, let me know in the comments!