Pride & Prejudice: A Book Review

Title : Pride & Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Rating: 4.7/5

Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

-Chapter 1, Pride & Prejudice

These opening lines of Pride & Prejudice are something etched in the hearts of every connoisseur of classic literature. These lines aren’t mere opening lines of a novel but depict the backdrop of the entire narration, these lines give us an insight into the social construct of the Victorian age and set the stage for the entire story to proceed in a subtle yet substantiated manner.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English author whose works included realism, sharp social criticism, and free indirect expression. Austen’s works are influenced in every way by her upbringing, environment, and time period. They are part of the transition to nineteenth-century realism and question the novels of sensibility from the second half of the eighteenth century. Austen’s plots, though primarily comedic, emphasize women’s reliance on marriage to secure social status and financial stability. Moral questions are one of the most powerful influences on her poetry and artwork.

Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman in the 1800s, is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet family has five children, and in an era where the only thing a woman could do was marry a wealthy man, all of the girls are under pressure to pursue wealthy husbands to ensure the family’s financial security. Elizabeth, on the other hand, refuses to wed the first man who comes along, preferring to marry for love. She encounters Mr. Darcy, a brooding, quiet, proud, and very wealthy gentleman who initially has little interest in Elizabeth. Elizabeth believes Darcy is the last man she will ever marry, but as the novel progresses, she realizes her biases towards him are unfounded, and he is a genuine gentleman who is just shy. Will they be able to transcend their pride and prejudices in order to marry?

Some may find it difficult to comprehend why a book about a group of girls whose primary goal in life is to marry is still so common today, and some may even think it an anachronistic read. We all know how much the world has changed, but I don’t believe it will ever change enough to make Miss Austen’s work redundant. If we read closely, we can see that her story is still relevant in today’s world.  Jane Austen’s novels are often labeled as romantic narratives for women, but I feel that this dismisses the recurring social themes that exist in her novels, subjects that at times appear to be larger than the love stories themselves. She doesn’t only concentrate on the protagonist’s love life; she also has a social context, which not just helps us appreciate and connect to the protagonists, but also encourages us to see parallels between the culture of the era and our own. One of the oldest and most influential examples of a novel of manners is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. By the 1700s, England’s social divisions and hierarchies had begun to change. Because of the rise of business and capitalism, it was now possible for certain citizens, even though they were not born into rich families, to accumulate large sums of money over their lifetime. As a result of this change, social identity becomes more complex. Subtle habits that indicated someone’s social status were given further consideration. Pride and Prejudice features a cast of characters who are preoccupied with wealth and social status, and who are constantly aware of the “right” ways to behave. The Bingley sisters’ horror as Elizabeth marches to Netherfield instead of riding a carriage, Mr. Collins’ adoration of Lady de Bourgh because of her money and rank, and the various snide remarks regarding Uncle Gardiner’s practise as an attorney are all examples of this social consciousness. (At the time Austen wrote, having a job may be considered socially humiliating because it implied that one did not come from a wealthy family and had to try to make ends meet.)

Today, Austen’s novel can be criticized for portraying a “sexist” view of men and women’s positions, a “classist” view of society (in which servants are nearly invisible and “good breeding” is interchangeable with “proper conduct”), and a rigid ethic of love and marriage that may seem odd today but was accepted then. But, even though our world’s moral and social ideals have evolved since then, we cannot compare Austen’s. The current state of the society demonstrates that humanity has not yet achieved complete enlightenment. However, by reading a book like this, we will learn about a world that once existed, at least through the mind of a fascinating character like Elizabeth Bennet. And, lest we forget, this book was written by a woman, with a woman’s sensibility, capturing a woman’s perspective on the world with wit and beauty that entertains even two centuries later. It’s been dubbed “the perfect novel” by others. They aren’t far from the reality, in my opinion.

It’s a classic novel full of warm comedy that pokes fun at a multitude of human flaws through one of English literature’s most vivid casts of characters. Jane Austen creates an awe-inspiring novel of awe-inspiring completeness through a rapid-fire sequence of social experiences, conversations, emails, leisure journeys, and sleepless nights full of troubled thoughts and emotions. She pulls off a masterful juggling act of tone and pacing, realism and conceit, that you may not even know. Pride and Prejudice makes an unforgettable impact with its gentle attitude and calm outlook, and one of our language’s best writers proves that a novel doesn’t have to be about the “larger problems.” It is still entertaining after 200 years.

Published by shachi_sinha

An engineer who is making an endeavour to pen down her unsaid emotions and her midnight musings with an effort to connect with all of you out there.

2 thoughts on “Pride & Prejudice: A Book Review

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