It might seem that to pen a review of literary titaness Jane Austen’s best-known (and possibly best-loved) novel would be presumptuous.
Nevertheless, I shall proceed to gild the lily and explain why, when I finally crossed its threshold several years ago, I found it worthy of every adulation ever laid at its door.
To avoid spoilers as much as possible (after all, you should read it for yourself!) I will try to focus on Pride and Prejudice‘s themes.
We follow the Bennet sisters (five in total, two or three in particular) as they explore relationships, and settle on spouses. The theme of sisterhood is very big, with the two oldest forming an enviable closeness and playing important roles in each other’s confidential lives.
Apart from spirited, guileless Elizabeth and gentle, kind-hearted Jane, we also see examples of truly silly women. Though the ways in which women are “silly” has no doubt changed form since Austen’s day, even now fools who think only of fashion, status, fun, parties, and self-centered advancement are all too real.
The book deals in depth with marital relationships and the basis for forming them. While it reminds us that personal attachment and affection are important, much of the conflict is drawn from faulty first impressions and misguiding appearances.
As much as love is crucial in a relationship, mutual respect is, also. P&P reminds us that, while social equality is unimportant or no guarantee of happiness, intellectual, emotional, and ideological equality (or rather, compatibility) are essential.
Please note: Austen does not confront the issue of a shared religion, which for all Christians should be the first determinate of whether or not to pursue a relationship.
I enjoy Austen’s delicate touch with the romance. While Elizabeth is anxious through the last few chapters, we aren’t drowned in a sea of angst. What’s more, while physical attraction does play a role, personality, disposition, character, and outlook on life are of much greater significance in all the couples – for good or ill.
If you enjoy romance in any form, don’t delay to add this to your collection of consumed culture. Even if you aren’t so keen on romance, any fan of period dialogue, dresses, carriages, balls, and all such touches won’t be disappointed. Also recommended to anyone who appreciates character development, subtext, humor, telling-off-pompous-people, and other masteries of good writing.
It has also been adapted into several movies, plays, and the like – which I am not in a position to review.
Cover image above is from this Amazon listing.