It is official; PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has turned 200!
It’s amazing that a novel written over 200 years ago can not only be relevant today, but a favourite of many writers and readers. This gorgeous story of the Bennets and, of course, Mr. Darcy, has been loved by millions and even adapted to television and movies (the BBC version is best, don’t talk to me about Kiera Knightley).
That a story could be so strong, so powerful and memorable that it stood the test of time made me think: why do we still love PRIDE AND PREJUDICE so much?
Is it, because:
a) Deep down, every girl wants to read a book about finding the right guy who’ll get all Beyonce on her ass and ‘put a ring on it.’ From the opening line of the story (“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) it is clear that marriage is a major preoccupation for the Bennet family; and fair enough! When you have five daughters in an age where who you’re with determines your social standing and your financial status, marriage is certainly key.
b) As Paula Abdul said, Opposites Attract. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are polar opposites of each other, whether you’re referring to Darcy’s wealth and Bennet’s poorer family standing, Darcy’s lack of social graces and Bennet’s ability to charm the pants off a pants-wearing man or even Darcy’s age (28) versus Bennet’s 20 years experience (not exactly opposite, but you get the idea). This ‘opposites attract’ theme has carried through and is predominant in literature today with many popular Young and New Adult books featuring the bad boy falls for good girl formula, including Colleen Hoover’s HOPELESS and Tammara Webber’s EASY. It seems that opposites are a winning mix for literary captivity.
c) Vintage is the new black. Downton Abbey is a hit on television screens worldwide,
second-hand vintage clothing is a hit and high tea is such a popular event, you’d be wise to take out shares in English Breakfast before it sky rockets.* PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is a story that captures a bygone era many people today wish they could have been a part of. And we’re not just talking about the cardigan wearers and bicycle riders.**
I think the answer is both all and none of these reasons. We’ll all have our own reasons but, for me, I love PRIDE AND PREJUDICE because Austen’s writing manages to fall somewhere between formal and extremely personal, placing you right in the mindset of the characters. It’s a story with well-developed protagonists that captures a time so different to our own, so romantic and yet so cruel. Also, it shows triumph over adversity, love conquering
*Note: this is not sound share advice
**Note: the author of this post is most definitely both a bicycle rider and cardigan wearer (hipster shame)
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