I’ve wanted to read more classics for some time, and had a copy of this lying around. So when I was told it may come up on my exams, I thought it was a great opportunity to start reading it. But, as I’ll be writing about it in great detail sometime soon, I’m going to keep this review short and sweet.
This novel was first published in 1813, and is loosely based on Austen’s own home life. It helps if you know a little bit about the time period and the ways of the people back then; this is set in the 19th Century Regency Period, when women were greatly oppressed and often married for money or reputation rather than love and affection. This is shown with the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins; Charlotte claims that she rarely sees her husband about the house, and that she finds the solitude quite comfortable.
Austen is challenging these facts though, with Jane and Elizabeth Bennet. They refuse to marry anyone who they do not greatly admire, and Elizabeth especially is a very headstrong character. You could say that this is an early feminist novel!
Another key theme throughout Pride and Prejudice is the judgement of character being incorrect from first impressions. For example, Elizabeth despises Mr Darcy at first. She hears only of his faults, and does not think to wonder about any context or motivation for his “negative” actions. Eventually, Darcy sets her straight and she finds herself feeling an emotion rather different to hate toward him.
Another of the young Bennets, Lydia, finds herself drawn to a man. Hers is the first relationship, and comes about in unfavourable circumstances. She is the youngest of the five sisters, and has always been a lively, flirtatious character.
Jane Bennet, the eldest and most admired of the girls, goes through a few emotions regarding the man she desires. Mr Bingley quickly steals her heart, but no proposal is made. Jane can only assume that he does not feel any admiration towards her. Little does she know, her sister’s admirer is responsible for keeping them apart.
I’m really not a romance girl, but I still appreciate this book. It can be hard to follow due to the language, but I personally enjoy this sort of thing. It has a nice, happy ending, and is not unreasonable or too far-fetched. It is a novel that requires a fair bit of your attention to really understand, but can really draw you in once you start. I think I’ll give it 4 stars.