Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites: Pride and Prejudice

I recently reread Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have read it several times and watched practically every movie version available. I think Jane Austen is a master at her craft. She composes sentences brilliantly. I find her characters so interesting and complex. Someone, she manages to write stories that have transcended time, generations, cultures, and history. Her books can be read over and over again and torn apart in all different directions. I think her works are true classics because they have so much to offer a reader.

I was a little surprised at my reactions from this reading, which may change upon reading it again:

  • I really, really, really disliked Mr. Darcy. Even at the end, when he redeems himself, I kept wondering what was behind the change of heart. I don't know why I had this reaction, because Mr. Darcy is often the romantic ideal of practically every woman. He was horribly pompous in the beginning which felt pretty hypocritical given the company he kept with Mr. Bingley's sisters who were rude, condescending, and in the case of the one sister, practically throwing herself at him. I didn't feel like I ever got enough information to understand his change of heart. 
  • But I think that inexplicable change of behavior is Jane Austen's pattern with men. Her male characters often say and do wild things that don't make sense. Why did Wickham run away with Lydia? She had nothing to offer him in any real sense. I kept searching for clues in the text to discover why he ended up with Lydia but didn't find any satisfying answers. Perhaps she manipulated him? 
  • The relationships between the female characters fascinated me because this was a society which tended to segregate along gender lines.
  • There wasn't much difference between Lydia & Kitty, and Caroline Bingley & Mrs. Hurst.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were terrible parents. Mr. Bennett was just as foolish as his wife. He was wasteful with his money, didn't plan for his daughters' future and security. Instead they kept trying to have a boy--as if a brother would actually take care of the girls. Mrs. Bennett seemed to have based her plan for the girls on their looks instead of providing education and training so they would have additional skills and gifts that would make them more viable marriage options. 
  • Jane Austen perfectly highlights how precarious life was for women without marriage opportunities and how they had to make hard choices. Charlotte married a ridiculous man for security. All five of the Bennett girls were literally at the mercy of their cousin. I think Austen really shows how difficult and scary life was for women without opportunity to gain skills for real employment if marriage wasn't an option. She also shows how often men failed in their duties to the women they had obligations to. Mr. Bennett was careless with his money so there was nothing of note to pass onto the girls. 
  • Perhaps this is why Mr. Darcy becomes so appealing to Lizzie. He is not neglectful in his duty to the women in his care. He carefully manages things for his sister so she has good prospects and ensures that she receives a good education. He is aware of the needs of the people who depend on him and provides for them fairly. 

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? What are your thoughts about this book? What is your favorite film adaptation of the book?


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