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.