It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters
I’m counting this as my first real ‘classic’ novel. It’s one of those that, like Gatsby, more often than not people read through this book at school. I didn’t get a chance to read this so I decided that, as I’m a little older and wiser now, it was time to give it a shot. And just in case anyone is asking; yes I was scared.
I was scared for a multitude of reasons. Pride and Prejudice is one of those great novels that everyone talks about being one of their favourite classical books, and there is so much discussion about Mr Darcy being the most romantic man in the literary world. I was scared that I wasn’t going to be able to appreciate the story. Or that I was going to dislike the characters. Or I wouldn’t be able to understand the writing style. Before I get into any of this in depth I feel I should just give a quick synopsis for those who haven’t read this novel yet.
The Bennet family have 5 daughters. This means that once their father dies, they lose the house they are living in; so there is a bit of a mad rush to get their daughters married. Enter Mr Bingley, the new owner of Netherfield Park, and his closest friend Mr Darcy. There is a ball held at Netherfield and we see an immediate attraction between Mr Bingley and the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, and the whole family get incredibly excited about the prospect of Jane marrying Bingley. At the same time we find out that Mr Darcy is a little more reserved in his actions at social events which leads to Elizabeth, the second oldest Bennet daughter, to think him obnoxious and arrogant. From this point on Bingley and Jane seem to get closer before he leaves for the winter and there are rumours that he won’t return, and Mr Darcy appears to become more attracted to Elizabeth’s charm and intelligence. Insert an elopement, rejection and lots of talk about how to be accomplished and there you go…
So the first thing I want to cover really is the language. I found that I didn’t struggle half as much as I thought I would when reading it. There are a few parts where there are long letters or just really long discussions being had where I tended to lose track of who was talking, or what they were even talking about. But actually understanding the events, I didn’t have that much of an issue. At least until the very end when I had to reread a page or two just to make sure that I hadn’t missed one big romantic gesture. I also found that dialogue was a little tricky as it wasn’t always specifying who spoke to whom. I do know what people are saying when they refer to this as beautifully written. A lot of the prose is quite fast paced but the descriptions of Permberly and the dialogue towards the end of the novel especially, that’s where the beauty of the language can really be found.
Now I want to cast an unpopular opinion… I don’t like Darcy. I thought I would. He’s kind of my literary and film type. But I just feel like people who claim that Darcy is a pure romantic and quote “you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” without having really read into his character. For a lot of the novel he is incredibly cold toward Elizabeth. He is rude and arrogant and would rather sit reading than engage in conversations which makes him seem a little egotistical. Yes by the end he has redeemed himself for his misdeeds to Elizabeth but even her family question if she will actually be happy with him as she hated him so much. And that quote. That quote I see pasted everywhere as the most amazing declaration of love. It comes pretty much out of no where with no real context to it. If I’d known throughout that chapter that he really did love her, then perhaps yes I could accept it. But by this point in the novel it only appears that he admires her intelligence. Oh… and no one told me it was followed by a rejection. Darcy grows on me as a character throughout, but I don’t think he’s this great romantic hero that everyone claims him to be. Plus there’s no walking out of the river scene in the book.
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The other characters in this novel I think are really well written. Everyone seems to have their own goals which they strive for throughout. Elizabeth is very headstrong and she knows that it isn’t right to accept her first proposal because she doesn’t love the man, and I think as a protagonist she’s a very well rounded one. Yes, she makes snap judgements, but then again, so do most human beings. I wish there were fewer characters if I were to be really picky, only because I tended to lose who people were from time to time, but other than that I really quite enjoyed following all of the different stories which filtered their way through. However, I wouldn’t get me started on Lady Catherine; another character who I disliked greatly, if only for that fact that the novel could’ve been shorter without her invitations to tea.
I feel like the plot can be followed two ways. It’s either a journey to find love and marriage, or it’s about family and doing what’s right by your family. There are love stories throughout; Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham, Mr and Mrs Bennet etc. But the greatest relationships to me are the ones between family. For example the closeness of Elizabeth and Jane or Lydia and Kitty, and the story of what happened between Darcy and Wickham when Darcy’s father passed away, and how Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam look after his younger sister. It can be read both ways with a great story at the end of it and a happy ending for most characters.
This is definitely a good book to get you started reading classics. The language is pretty easy to follow with well rounded characters. Plus there are several adaptations to watch, if you find yourself a bit confused about what’s happening in the book.
Total pages – 279
Total read time – 11 hours
Rating /10 – 7
Recommend – Maybe if you want to give them a go