Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pride and Prejudice Review for Classics Bookclub

OK, I'm cheating. I just stumbled upon this awesome website, 5 Minutes for Books, and found that their book club read Pride and Prejudice for today. Now, I was not reading along with this club. But I LOVE this book, so I'm writing a post anyways. This is my kind of book club!

The first time I read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I thought it was hilarious. Every other time I have read it I've felt the same way. I am a hardcore Austen fan, and although P and P is not my absolute favorite of hers (I love Persuasion!!), I believe that it is the novel in which her wit is at its absolute finest. Austen's constant gibes at society and at her characters keep the reader entertained throughout.

Speaking of wit, I think part of the reason this novel has stayed so popular is that its heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, is one of the most intelligent, independent, and fun female characters ever in print. What makes her so lovable is that she stands up for herself, something we don't always see a lot of female characters do, especially in fiction written before 1850. Readers can't help but enjoy hearing of her exploits.

Yet, Lizzy is not perfect. Her prejudice does mislead her; she is blinded by her "first impressions." It is only after much ado and plot twisting that she is able to look beyond her prior beliefs and see a different side of Mr. Darcy. But imperfection makes her even more lovable. As she begins to appreciate who Darcy really is, we as readers do the same.

Darcy. Yes Darcy. I believe that one of the main reasons this novel has continued popularity is due to this character. Truly, Colin Firth's portrayal of this character in the BBC miniseries of the novel has elevated this fictional character to superstar status. After all, what can a woman find more attractive than that seemingly unavailable and immovable man who ends up worshipping her and letting his tough exterior crack just for her? Sounds like a romance novel. I think many readers and viewers latch on to this attractive character as their reason for loving the book. And I can't blame them.

However, Darcy is not the reason I like this novel. Nor do I think Austen was really attempting to create anything like a romance novel. The characters of Darcy and Lizzy both serve to further Austen's idea that we don't really understand people until we get to know them and that even if we are more capable and intelligent than the people around us, (Austen herself may have been) we must still treat the people around us with civility. They are human, after all. That's not to say we can't poke a little fun at them; Austen is the queen of poking fun! However, we shouldn't poke fun at their expense. Even Austen's most ridiculous characters have some aspects with which we can sympathize. And every human being on this earth has something we can sympathize with too.

With this novel, Jane Austen created a truly entertaining piece of literature. The plot is engaging, the characters are unforgettable, and Austen's spot-on commentary on life and people ties everything together.

To avoid sounding like I don't appreciate Darcy, let me end with saying that my favorite scene from the BBC P and P is the scene where Colin Firth jumps into the lake...



I'm very excited to join the club in reading Jane Eyre for next month! I've read this a couple times, and I have a very mixed opinion of it.

12 comments:

Lisa writes... said...

I have to agree, Persuasion is wonderful, definitely my next favorite novel of Austen's. And you are right, P&P is hilarious, even reading it for the upteenth time!

Thanks for joining in!

By the way, I love Jane Eyre and hope you will be pleasantly surprised!

Colleen said...

Oh, I'm glad you like Persuasion too! Thanks for commenting; I'm exciting to join this club.

Nise' said...

Wonderful post. Love Persuasion as well.

ibeeeg said...

Ahh...now I am very curious about Persuasion. If it is better than P&P then it must go on my list of "To Read"

Bluestocking said...

Have you ever read Lady Susan. Now that's really interesting. It's a novella.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Colleen said...

@nise' - Thank you! I'm happy to find some fellow Persuasion lovers!

@ibeeeg - I think you would like Persuasion. It's very different from Pride and Prejudice; it's not quite as witty and sarcastic. But the story is compelling. It's about a woman who gave up the man she loved and then meets him again years later.

@bluestocking - I finally got around to Lady Susan this summer actually! It was very interesting; Lady Susan is absolutely evil!

Julie said...

5 Minutes for Books is my new favorite site! Thanks for stopping by my post, and I look forward to seeing what you think about Jane Eyre.

Colleen said...

Julie, you are welcome. Thank you as well. I'll hear from you next month!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

You're not exactly cheating. I'm glad you joined in! See you next month.

Colleen said...

Thanks Jennifer! I'll see you next month too.

ibeeeg said...

I am going to put Persuasion on my list of books to read.

I very much agree with this comment you made:

"The characters of Darcy and Lizzy both serve to further Austen's idea that we don't really understand people until we get to know them and that even if we are more capable and intelligent than the people around us, (Austen herself may have been) we must still treat the people around us with civility."

Colleen said...

@ibeeeg - Thank you. I'm glad you liked my comment. I look forward to hearing what you think of Persuasion.