Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudice

Storytime Series

I completely meant to write this post yesterday, but I think I got a little thrown off of my daily routine when this little one came to visit:

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You know I just wanted to share that adorable face on my blog somehow.

Anyway.

I promised last week that the first in the Storytime Series would be a romantic classic and it doesn't get more romantic or more classic than Pride and Prejudice. With Pride and Prejudice, I did something I rarely do. I saw the movie before I read the book. For some bizarro reason, my high school didn't require us to read anything by Jane Austen at all. So when I went to see the movie it was my first experience with Austen.

pride and prejudice

I adored it. It was quick and funny with deep characters. Nothing thrills me more than when the dialogue keeps coming without pause and the humor is said as if it wasn't funny at all (Gilmore Girls anybody?). The British are so great at that. And I think it gives us all a feeling of superiority when we "get it." The cinematography was gorgeous and serene. After reading the book, I can tell you the casting and acting was perfection. It was a really well done movie.

As always, movie or book, the characters are what draw me in. I think book lovers automatically feel a connection with Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. She's always reading, but not great at much else. She's a secret romantic with high standards and is incredibly rational, especially compared to the other female characters in the story. She'd rather give her opinion and be disliked for it than hold her tongue and make everyone happy. There's a wonderful scene in the book where Mr. Darcy's aunt interrogates Elizabeth on whether they are engaged or not. Lady Catherine is so rude to Elizabeth that she refuses to answer her questions out of pure stubbornness. It's all kind of crazy for a Victorian time period, highty inappropriate, and yet so very similar to the way we often are today. It's a shame we didn't read this in school because I think teenage girls would find Elizabeth extremely relatable.

As for Mr. Darcy. Well. He's kind of perfect. Obviously. He's perfect in that wonderfully imperfect kind of way. He seems rude and unpleasant to be around and so everyone decides that that is his nature, when of course it's hardly the case. I don't think there's a person in the world who hasn't felt misunderstood at some point. I myself know that as a generally introverted person, people in the past have assumed I'm arrogant, just as they did of Mr. Darcy. It's funny how some people assume that you must dislike people if you're quiet when really you're just trying to understand who people are instead of inserting yourself into a situation and trying to dominate it.

It's this misunderstanding of people and motives that the entire story revolves around. It's a topic I find fascinating and it's present in a lot of my favorite stories.

Now, I have to be honest. I tried to read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago and literally did not make it past the first chapter. The language and the tediousness of the Victorian lifestyle completely threw me off and I gave up, thinking I'd seen the movie and that was enough. (Why that thought ever entered an English major's mind, the world will never know.) I still think Austen should have written a more compelling first chapter. It's all about Elizabeth's parents and them discussing what's going on around town and yada yada. I know it sets up the story and all that, but it just didn't draw me in. I have to be interested pretty quickly because my list of books to read is too long to waste on books I'm not enjoying!

pride and prejudice

It's funny how something like language can put you off a book at one point in time and then delight you later on. I don't know what else to say except that you get used to it as you read. And then you really appreciate the complicated language and the rhythm of the back and forths.

The book is just like the movie, but more. A movie can only do so much, that's why everyone groans that the movie never lives up to the book. It just can't. There's not enough time. I liked reading the book and noticing a passage that I remembered from the movie and how much MORE of it there was in the book. Yes, Elizabeth said this in the movie, but wow she had a lot more to say about that situation! I do feel like the movie cut out more of her cynical humor than they should have. I found that really refreshing in her.

The bottom line is that Pride and Prejudice is a classic for a reason. I could write many pages about it, but this is already out of control enough. If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, I highly suggest you do BOTH. Be patient with the book. I wasn't the first time and now I feel silly because it's not DIFFICULT to read. It's just different from the way our novels are today. And a relationship of two like-minded, but very different people who are just right for each other? Who doesn't appreciate that?