Austen has long been an author on my must read list, but for some reason has eluded my bookshelves. My exposure has been by way of stage productions of Pride and Prejudice which I have found most enjoyable. While I must acknowledge my enjoyment at finally perusing Ms. Austen’s famed work, I must confess to being less than enthralled with the actual novel. Perhaps I must also recognize the romantic I thought hidden inside was not there to be uncovered. Indeed, it was not.
Set in the outskirts of London in the late 1700’s into the early 1800’s, we are privy to the thoughts and intended meanings of those, who during that time, were quite restricted in their open communications. This acts as a perfect device for misunderstandings and unintended consequences. Those primarily falling into these blunders are Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
The central character, Elizabeth Bennet, is the second of five daughters and favored by her father who shares her wit and intelligence. She is not one to hold her tongue and usually does so without any thinking beforehand. Believing her intelligence has also given her great judgment of character, she quickly assesses those she meets and determines their worthiness. Of course, her quick judgments are far from accurate and she remains unaware of her prejudicial views.
The proud Mr. Darcy is the object of Elizabeth’s disdain and his taciturnity adds the fuel to her fire. When he does actually speak to Lizzy, he is met with sarcasm and insolence and his reaction is misconstrued worsening her behavior toward him. Eventually, the sparks begin to fly and before they are aware of it themselves, romance befalls them, but certainly not before suffering some calamitous events.
Mr. Collins is the true buffoon in the room. He is the named heir to the Bennet estate since the family consists of daughters only and visits to take an inventory of its contents, including the girls. He is a clergyman and is under the the thumb of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, an equally irksome character. The laughs abound when his advice is given to those not needing it, and certainly not wanting it, much to his ignorance.
I would surely need to be well dressed and mannered were I to meet with Miss Austen, however, I believe some rebellion may lie below her surface, a la Lizzy Bennet. Having no formal training and relying on her own readings and her family’s support are reported as her background and would prove for interesting chatter. I’d try my best to get her to let her hair down and fill me in on her means of producing such comical dialog.
My rating for Pride and Prejudice is an 8 out of 10.
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