I mentioned in my Jane Eyre review that my first foray into classic literature was with Pride and Prejudice. Today I have decided to review this book.
We meet the Bennet family. A family with money but on the verge of having to work for a living. They have an excellent house and 5 daughters as well as a silly mother and steadfast father. Elizabeth Bennet is our heroine and seems to be the most put together of the sisters and is their father’s favourite. The town becomes the new stately home of Mr. Bingley who is known to make £5000 a year. He arrives with his sisters, brother in law and best friend, Mr. Darcy. Bingley takes a liking to Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane and begins to court her. Everyone believes that they are to be wed but Mr. Darcy is found to have told Bingley not to marry below his station.
Mr. Collins arrives to the Bennet household and he proposes to Elizabeth who turns him down (hilariously). Mrs. Bennet is in an outrage over this, wanting to get her daughters married off as quickly as possible, whilst making good connections. Elizabeth’s best friend marries Mr. Collins due to her panic of getting too old to find a husband.
Mr. Whickham arrives with the cavalry and woos Elizabeth. However, it is with her youngest sister that he runs off with and marries. This is not before he informs Elizabeth of how horrible and pompous Mr. Darcy is.
Surprisingly, Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. However, his proposal is truley awful, claiming her to be below his status and that she should feel lucky he is even allowing himself to be degraded by acknowledging her and her family. Obviously Elizabeth says no.
Elizabeth goes to visit the new Mrs. Collins and due to the position of Mr. Collins as pastor for the venerable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, learns more about Mr. Darcy and finds his previous nature towards her and her family to be of an anomaly.
Whilst on holiday with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth ends up visiting Mr. Darcy’s grand estate and ends up seeing him there. Here she finds that he is not quite so prideful and much more open and joyous to be around. Perhaps her own pride got in the way of their union?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh hears about a possible union between Mr. Darcy (her nephew) and Elizabeth and storms over to the Bennet’s house to find out whether her nephew had made a proposition to Elizabeth. Elizabeth says no but if he were to make one in the future she would not reject it.
Mr. Bingley returns and asks for Jane’s hand and then Mr. Darcy returns with him and once again asks for Elizabeth’s. Obviously, they both say yes and the pride and prejudices that were keeping them apart have now been vanquished.
I love this book. The BBC adaptation is also excellent. Elizabeth Bennet is a truly delightful character. Her wit, intelligence and sarcastic mouth transcend the 201 years from first publication to now. The family interactions are often done with great amusement and Elizabeth’s rejection of two of her marriage proposals are excellently executed. The one to Mr. Collins is hilarious. Her attitude is very modern as she waits until the man she loves asks her, never agreeing to marriage for status or money (obviously she gets both with her marriage but it takes 2 attempts from Mr. Darcy before she says yes). The marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte is shown to be the ‘proper’ way for an unmarried twenty-something to act as even though Charlotte does not love Mr. Collins, she feels she needs to get married soon as she is ‘past’ the desirable age.
Mr. Bennet is also quite a modern man. He only wants what is best for his daughters (particularly Jane and Elizabeth) and finds his wife’s constant moaning and badgering to be rather tiresome. However, he does what he can to make his daughter’s union to a ‘higher class’ by calling to see the new resident of Mr. Bingley. He is every girl’s dream father and before accepting Mr. Darcy’s request of marriage to Elizabeth he checks with her first to see if she is willing.
Obviously being called Pride and Prejudice, both these themes run throughout the books and every character (bar Jane) has these flaws. Even Elizabeth lets hers get the better of her and we see how far she has to go to allow them to be beaten to accept Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal. However, how he expected any girl to agree to his first offer is beyond me. Tip for you guys: never say that the girl is below you in status and that her family are idiotic whilst stopping her sister from marrying your best friend for the same reasons!
All in all one of my favourite books. My verdict 9.5/10. Again, the same as with Jane Eyre maybe if I had been reviewing in the 19th century, this would have been a 10 but obviously the writing is convoluted and difficult to get into meaning you have to be in the right frame of mind to read this or any classic novel.