Pride and Prejudice Review
“In a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Irony — that is what the first sentence Pride and Prejudice has shown, telling us that we are to be introduced with, well, a world of matchmaking and anticipation (of marriage).
Pride and Prejudice is about the Bennets’ longing for marriage for the sake of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, hence, it undergoes a series of misunderstandings, complications, and confusions as soon as bachelor Mr. Bingley brings his two sisters, a brother-in-law, and a dear friend to Netherfield, where the Bennets live.
Mostly, however, Pride and Prejudice revolves around walking, talking, marriage, flirtation, reflection, and just about anything that can be related to a genre of romantic comedy. But that’s exactly the point — Austen wants us to feel perfectly calm and cozy by bringing us a world where not going to a ball would seem to be a problem because in Austen’s time, England was engaged in a struggle with Napoleon, and what would people want other than war and battlefields? Of course, something a bit more chill.
In emphasis, what I really liked in Pride and Prejudice were the themes it presented. The most striking ones are love, society and classes, women and femininity, and principles. Austen is also specifically concerned in critiquing female identity in early nineteenth-century England, and that brings us to Elizabeth Bennet or Lizzy, who is by no means one of the best heroines in the whole English Fiction. In fact, she’s actually my favorite too. Witty and lively, independent and practical, humorous and affectionate — who could love her more?
Pride and Prejudice is also (almost) completely based on the title itself. General background: it was titled First Impressions at first, but was then changed to a noun-and-noun title after Sense and Sensibility became a hit. I loved how I found myself wrong, where I thought Pride would refer to Mr. Darcy and Prejudice referring to Mr. Darcy’s prejudice against Elizabeth Bennet, or the general female. But how it turned up was a surprise! The title actually to the psychological flaws to our two characters, respectively. And that’s what makes Pride and Prejudice a win, with a noun-and-noun title we are shown the flaws that challenge principles, and how this challenge leads to both fortunate and misfortunate turn of events.
In short, Pride and Prejudice is a novel of escaping the evils of reality by setting yourself to yet a lesser evil which we can cope on. As a 20th century reader, though, I found it time-consuming to read and recognized some scenes, dialogues, and narrations which would be better off without, or which would be better replaced with a bit more character description, especially at the start. Those were the only flaws I found, though I can say I spent a delightful time with this novel.
Here’s a little infographic I found helpful too:
Special thanks to Shmoop for the chapter-by-chapter summaries and detailed infographics which turned confusion to comprehension. If you think you’d have a little trouble with reading early nineteenth-century English language (just like I did), then I recommend Shmoop!