Friday, August 23, 2013

Rereading Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my go to favorite book. How many times are you asked “what’s your favorite book?” as soon as you pronounce that reading is one of your favorite hobbies? Probably a lot. Well over the years I’ve adopted P&P as my favorite, whether out of convenience, true love, or literary popularity, I’ve never been quite sure. Although I absolutely love Jane Austen, it was about time for a rereading of my favorite.
First let me go through what I get when I tell people Pride and Prejudice is my favorite:

  • “Ugh that’s boring.”
  • “Huh. So what do you want for an appetizer?”
  • “God I hated that book. It’s so boring and the language is so old.”
  • “I’ve never read it.”
  • “That is such a good book. Now let’s talk about it and all its merits!”
  • “I hated it because it was hard for me to write a paper about.” (this actually was a reaction I got)
Am I a snob? Yeah a little. Maybe saying P&P is one of my favorites reflects my snobbery. For those who did not enjoy Jane Austen, or thought Pride and Prejudice was boring, I understand! If you have reasons for backing up your dislike, awesome! That’s fine. Not everyone needs to like what I like and yes, Austen’s writing is 200 years old, and so it’s dated. Love stories are not everyone’s cup of tea, but what I truly adore about Austen is that the novel is so much more than a quaint story of a beloved character getting what and who she deserves. There’s a reason we still read it.
Well hopefully, my dear reader, you know the story of Jane Austen’s most popular work Pride and Prejudice, but let me refresh you. Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman with a silly mother and three silly younger sisters. Luckily, she has an older sister who is sweet as pie and a beloved confidant, Jane. Jane falls for the new rich guy, Mr. Bingley, who moves in next door. Bingley has a very rich friend, Mr. Darcy, who is snobby and condescending. Bingley goes away leaving Jane heartbroken and not too long after, Elizabeth runs into Darcy. Darcy proposes and is refused, because of misunderstood intentions and bad information.  However, through explanation and time, Elizabeth begins to favor him. In the end, Darcy reforms as does Elizabeth and he ends up proposing again. Bingley comes back and marries Jane. La di da, almost everyone is happy!

My rereading of my favorite book reasserted that I adore this novel. I read a list about books that are red flags if people claim them as a favorite and women who say P&P is their favorite are overly romantic and just want to turn the rich snobby guy into their white knight. Maybe, but there’s so much more to it than that very shallow reading. Here’s my list of reasons to love Austen or at least appreciate her.
  • Jane Austen is a sociologist/psychologist. She writes characters better than any other author I’ve encountered. There’s a seamless quality to her description of who a character is, what their motivations are, where they come from, and how they mingle in society.
  • As historical fodder, Austen is remarkable. While reading, you understand how society, class, and money played a role in the lives of Regency era people. These books give an understanding of a different time period.
  • And yet, Austen did not pigeon hole herself by only being relevant to one era. She didn’t give much detail about politics, war, or happenings during the era, so the stories are easily transferable to modern culture.
  • Her stories are timeless with themes that are still relevant today such as forgiveness, prejudice, love, duty, honor, slacking morals, and reputation.
This time around, I was more aware of the growing affection Elizabeth felt for Darcy. My one complaint in the past was that in the end it just seems like Lizzy and Darcy are thrown together and she suddenly forgives him. In my rereading, I saw as her feelings developed and how her prejudice against him dropped. Their coupling then did not feel abrupt, instead I longed for him to go to her sooner and for her to say something. Also, this time it took me a number of chapters to be completely absorbed in the book. I understand it starts off as dry reading, but once you get past the first few chapters, and the foolish Mr. Collins shows up, you get sucked in.
Sorry for the length of this post, but my favorite book deserves some recognition. If you’ve never read it, well you should, but it’s not necessary, unless you want to be my friend (friendship with me is very rigorous). If you’ve read it, awesome! Let’s talk sometime. If you didn’t like it, well your opinion is invalid and you’re an imbecile. I’m kidding! (You probably just have no taste)

Happy reading, dear reader!

~Kristin M.

No comments:

Post a Comment