On Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been in love with Pride and Prejudice ever since I devoured the 1995 television series, cuddled on the couch with my mom and a bowl of ice cream. I had tried before to pick up the book to find out if it was really as good as people made it out to be, but like the terrible little reader I used to be, I got about halfway through and put it down. I attribute this to the book being a slow starter. Seriously, patience pays off.

Social Commentary

Jane Austen is reputedly pigeonholed as a romance author. Yes, she has crafted breathtaking love stories, but a close read and it’s plain to see that she writes more than just Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl Back.

Pride and Prejudice is such a fun read. Not because things blow up. Not because Lizzie meets a ghost. And not because everyone is training to hunt zombies (though, I would like to read that version soon!). It’s fun because some of her characters are 100% freaking crazy like Mrs. Bennet. Others are simply laughable, likeable, or pitiable: Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingly, and Charlotte, respectively. Mr. Bennet is complacent and Mr. Darcy is too sophisticated for his own good some times. It’s fantastic because her cast is wide and her characters blend together in ways that make me care about their lives as though I was one of those posh ladies sitting around the drawing room discussing who would end up married to whom.

Social commentary is something we as members of society take part of every day. We all gossip. If someone at work got slammed last night, we’ll spend our morning gabbing about how we saw them wash down several bottles of Ibuprofen with some fizzy Alkazelser water. Reading Pride and Prejudice isn’t very different from what we’re all naturally inclined to. It’s like reading an 1800s edition of people magazine. Maybe that’s why the book is so addicting.

The Parents

Something that stuck out to me on this read-through of Pride and Prejudice was how vitally important Mr. and Mrs. Bennet were to the story. I never realized before how large their role was, how they were the ones to fuel almost literally all of the drama. Mrs. Bennet, basically an over-sized 13-year-old, constantly encourages her daughters to seek out frivolousity (This is ThinkyRead where we make up our own words) and waits anxiously for them to fall in and out of love. She herself is one of the most irresponsible, boisterous, selfish, annoying characters I’ve ever come across.

And on the other hand, there’s Mr. Bennet. Respectable enough on his own, Mr. Bennet would rather check out of reality than lift a finger to set his wife or daughters straight. No wonder Jane and Lizzie were his favorites, he didn’t have to do anything to make them mature, responsible young ladies. His other daughters, however, require some effort. However, instead of stopping his wife’s influence and performing his duties as father and husband, he spends most of his time in his library pursuing subjects that are of more interest to him.

It’s worth noting the ways a parent is responsible for the disposition of his child. It’s not poor Lydia’s fault that her father was absent and her mother was crazy. However, Jane and Lizzie seem to be the exception that proves the rule. Though the parent is responsible for the actions of his child, the parent is not the only one who is responsible.

Lydia

If there’s one character with whom I was the most disappointed, it’s Lydia. Poor little ignorant Lydia who got exactly what she deserved and, because of her impropriety is married to a man who doesn’t, and will never, love her. A mini Mrs. Bennet, destined to turn out quite exactly like her mother. No wonder Mr. Bennet doesn’t want her in the house any more.

I would have liked to see a character arch for Lydia. Though, I understand why she had none. Of the four marriages in this book, Lydia’s was obviously a negative example of marrying for money, even if this choice wasn’t exactly hers to make. No one would have been completely happy to see her end well. She couldn’t end well. She had made an unfixable mistake by running away with Wickham, even though she ended up married to the guy (which “solved” the problem about as much as reattaching a side-view mirror with duct tape). If she could have at least learned from her mistakes and somehow used the knowledge to become a more bearable person, I would have been so happy.

Side Note: This is one more reason that I absolutely love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This video blog adaption gives Lydia this depth that I’m sure I’m not alone in desiring.

Conclusion

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