31 August 2013

Review of Pride and Prejudice

I really went down to the wire on this one.  I finished reading Pride and Prejudice about two weeks ago and just kept putting off writing the review.  I think that really enjoying the book, but not being quite sure how to articulate it without sounding too gushy had something to do with it.

Anyway, here is my review for Pride and Prejudice...on the last day of Austen in August...



One of the things that I really like about this novel and one of the reasons I think it is so widely read today is that it is still quite applicable.  Yes, women don't have to marry in order to have secure futures.  But I think that the process is still very similar.  In chapter VI, Charlotte says that being so guarded can really backfire on you.  It still can.  You have to put yourself out there a bit.  Frequently, the dating world is something of a cat and mouse game, with a fair amount of will-they-won't-they thrown in for excitement or frustration, whatever.  Austen established that tense cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Darcy very early in the plot and I loved watching that tension build over the next three hundred pages.  By about page 200, further than I had ever read in the unabridged version of the novel, I totally understood what Kathleen Kelly meant about being in agony over whether they would ever be together.  One step forward, two steps back.

Throughout the novel, I felt myself strongly identifying with Elizabeth.  I truly wonder how many other people do too.  I am sure that as I read more Austen, I will develop some sort of mental litmus test related to which Austen character did someone most closely identify with.  Moving on...I really identified with the wanting to do and be good, but getting frustrated and kind of judgmental really easily.  The line "The more I see of the world, the more dissatisfied I am with it; and everyday confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters."  Ugh.  So dismally true.  Another unflattering mirror image bit?  When Elizabeth assumed that because she found Mr. Collins to be pompous and annoying that Charlotte would as well and was truly unhappy.  Sigh.  Just because I find someone's company so distasteful doesn't mean everyone will.  One of these days I will realize that.

Something that I couldn't quite determine myself was how Darcy changed.  Did Austen change the way he was written to mirror Elizabeth's changing feelings toward him (as in, he was always that nice, we just couldn't tell because Elizabeth disliked him) or did he himself change as he got to know Elizabeth more?

I really appreciated how Austen portrayed a wide variety of female characters in the novel.  There were the evil ones, the very good ones, the regular ones, and the idiotic ones, among others.  I haven't read many novels that convincingly portrayed the idiotic ones.  They always seem too over the top.  Elizabeth's younger sisters are idiots and they are ridiculous, but they reminded me of people I know in real life, as opposed to being a caricature.  It was also nice(?) to see that stupid girls are not a new phenomenon.  It's just now they get their own TV shows instead of being shamed, like they ought to be.

The dialogue at the end of the novel identifies Elizabeth as "prejudice" and Darcy as "pride."  I think they each had a bit of both going on.  What do you think?

So, ultimately, I can't believe it took me so long to read the entirety of this novel.  I liked it a lot more than I thought I was going to.  I was totally swoony after finishing because...ahhhh...love.

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