I stayed up late for this. I was squinting my eyes, absentmindedly grinning like a megalomaniac at four in the morning, just so I can finish the remaining one hundred pages of the book. (Yes, one hundred.) You see, I didn’t want to put Mr. Darcy down. Not when there are only a hundred more pages to go before I finish the novel.
It was worth the 4:30 a.m. start of sleep.
Back in 1813, Jane Austen sat down and wrote what would be her most cherished novel, Pride and Prejudice. Two hundred years later, it is still among the world’s most beloved literature.
It is a testament to Jane Austen’s ability to write witty romance stories without being silly or cheesy. It comes to a point that to categorize Pride and Prejudice as a love story makes me feel like such a label actually cheapens it. (Although perhaps such an impression simply stems from the fact that there are but a few romance novels that are beautifully and richly portrayed.)
But no matter.
Pride and Prejudice is a comedy of manners and morals. And, for the sake of labels, it is a love story. One that endearingly opens a window to 18th century marital standards. For indeed, what else can the tone of a novel’s plot be when it opens with the sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” And, with such an opening, a story filled with husband-hunting women starts. It is quite quite endearing.
The title, Pride and Prejudice, is rooted from the primary nature of the main characters (although it isn’t an exclusive trait.) With Pride is tall, handsome and possessing of a ten-thousand a year Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. He is excessively concerned with morals, decorum, and was described by the townsfolk of Netherfield Park as aloof, proud, haughty and arrogant after thirty minutes of meeting him. With Prejudice comes tolerably pretty and wise-eyed Ms. Elizabeth Bennet who has a tendency to judge based on first impressions. (See the interplay?) Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s first meeting held no promise of a blossoming romance. How can it be when he described her as “… tolerable. But not enough to tempt me.” Elizabeth hears this and quickly decides that he would be the last man she would be prevailed on to marry. While Darcy, no sooner had he said it, began to be intrigued by her. And so the story goes. Elizabeth remains clueless of his affections, while he remains tormented by his till he finally decided to woo her. When he finally says he loves her in what would be the most insulting proposal in history, the real story begins.
It is an understatement to say that I love Pride and Prejudice (though I can’t think of other words that rank higher so I’ll settle with it.) It is easy to understand why Elizabeth Bennett is one of the most popular characters in British literature. It is for the same reasons why she is among my favorite heroines. (Lucky girl, that one.) And for a character created two hundred years ago, it is very noteworthy that Darcy can still make women born in these modern times fall in love with him. Every girl I know who has read the novel wants their own Mr. Darcy. Those that don’t either a) didn’t like it; b) halfheartedly read it; c) has no soul or heart or; d) is just a snob who think she’s better than all the rest.
The novel is graced, not only with remarkable main characters, but with memorable supporting ones as well.
There is also Darcy’s best friend, the well-liked, five-thousand a year Charles Bingley and Elizabeth’s beautiful sister, Jane Bennett. Theirs is a love story about two very kind people, but on the outset makes him look like an ass and her an Ice Princess. But I love them nonetheless. (But not as much as I love Darcy and Lizzie.)
There is also the colorful, interesting Bennett Family. It is composed of a bookish, intelligent, passive father; a foolish, narrow-minded mother; a trying-hard sister (Mary); a frivolous flirtatious youngest sister who lacks common sense (Lydia); and an equally flirtatious but slightly has a presence of mind sister (Kitty). Jane and Elizabeth differ from their mother, Mary, Kitty and Lydia tremendously.
Jane Austen has been called as the finest novelist of English language. I have to agree with that. Pride and Prejudice (like all her other novels) is witty, sarcastic and enjoyably written. She gave us a delightful love story between two opposite characters and made it so unorthodox-ly romantic and sweet that we forget that not once did Darcy and Elizabeth kiss or embrace.