As I assume the main plot of the book is no secret to most people, I’m going to write my thoughts with no worry of possible spoilers.
Pride and Prejudice is my very first Jane Austen and it took me some time to get used to her style. I found the beginning was very very slow. I didn’t care much for the characters and thought their conversations were inconsequential.
After what seemed like the longest 50 pages of my life, it started to flow, and the pace picked up after 70-80 pages. The rest got easier, which means I started to enjoy it as a novel, not just as a piece of classic that I felt the need to tackle.
I watched the movie adaptation with Keira Knightley years ago on the plane, but couldn’t remember anything about it. So I basically entered the book knowing almost nothing. Preconception that I had before reading: Darcy and Elizabeth hated each other, and only at the end that they realized they actually loved each other, ended with dramatic running and chasing Hollywood style.
Result: WRONG! Darcy takes interest in Elizabeth very early on in the book. What I believe as their very first flirt:
“‘I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,’ said Darcy.
‘Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may.–Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.’ [Elizabeth]” ~ p40
Not to say that it is smooth for Darcy and Elizabeth at the beginning. Darcy is aloof and that pisses everybody off, including Lizzy.
“‘Nothing is more deceitful’, said Darcy, ‘than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.’” ~ p43
Elizabeth felt very distant to me at first. I found it hard to connect to her. Only after the event between her friend Ms Lucas and Mr Collins did I started to feel for her, with her. I got her shock, her disdain, her defeat, and her hit of reality.
“‘I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.’ [Charlotte]
It was a long time before she [Elizabeth] became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr Collins’s making two offers of marriage within three days, was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she could not have supposed it possible that when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr Collins, was a most humiliating picture!–And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added to the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.” ~ p116, 117
I almost felt sorrowful at this point and wasn’t sure why. Then it hit me that something similar has happened to me in the past. Not to the extend of marriage of course, but it did involve a loser of a guy, a rejection on my behalf, a few days gap, and acceptance of a dear friend to the aforementioned guy (then her broken heart not long after).
“You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger, security for happiness.” ~ Elizabeth, p125
I saw Elizabeth as an idealist, a perfectionist–characteristics that I could relate with, and so I started to get a grip of her character.
“‘But that expression of “violently in love” is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise from an half-hour’s acquiantance, as to a real, strong attachment.’” ~ Mrs Gardiner, p129
Few characters can be as amusing as Mr Collins. He has the knack to insult people in dignified way! One of my favorite insults of his:
“‘Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us, which becomes herself and daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest, there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.’” ~ Mr Collins, p146
It’s very hard for me to rate this book as it is, as I know that it is one of the most widely read books and is studied as a piece of literature at many schools. The language is no doubt articulate and classy. The plot however, is not my kind of story. The basic plot about the richest prideful guy in the county falling head over heels with a lively girl from a lower class seems to be too Cinderella-like, and especially overused in these modern days, though it might have been ground breaking at the time of writing in the 18th century. On the other hand, it was really insightful for me to learn people’s lifestyle during the time. The inheritance laws and marriage financial settlement always amuse me.
A few things I never quite understood:
What is Lady Catherine’s profession? How does she have so high of rank? I understand that it’s something to do with church. But what is it exactly?
Who determines how Mr Bennet should divide his inheritance? Why doesn’t he have any control over who he inherits his fortune to after he dies?
When does Mr Darcy actually propose to Elizabeth the second time? One of the most important event and I seem to have missed it. I was only aware of it when Lizzy tells Jane about it. How? Which sentence exactly?
I’m not sure if P&P made me fall in love with Jane Austen, but I quite enjoyed it and plan to read another book or two of hers. I have Emma in mind for my next Austen. How about you? Was P&P your first Austen? Did it make you a fan?
If you’re a long time fan of Austen, which book of hers is your favorite? Why?
I would love to watch the BBC 1995 adaptation as lots of people said it’s really really good. I have reserved the DVDs from the library, so more on that soon.
1813, 352 pp
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
I made a call to Pride and Prejudice first timers to read the book in February and a few people have expressed their interests. Let me know if you do end up reading it and I’ll link to your posts below. Or you could just drop a comment about your reading experience!
What happens to the Other P&P First Timers?
Vivienne @ Seredipity: “I really did love this book and will be over the moon to read more of Jane Austen’s books, though I have been told that this is the best of the bunch.”
another cookie crumbles: “I really did enjoy the book, although, maybe not the story in itself, if that makes sense? Again, I attribute that to me already knowing the way the plot would turn, and hence, missing out on the feel-good factor. Also, some of the romanticism and mushiness was a little much for me, but, I guess that was part and parcel of the nineteenth century, and maybe, in another lifetime, I was Elizabeth Bennet. Well, a girl can dream. :)“
David @ Absorbed in Words: “I should say, it is not the kind of story that should generally hold my interest. But it’s a fine piece. And the fact that the author was a woman impressed me immensely.”
Thank you all for joining! I will update the links to your review once you post it! Let me know if I miss you!