Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thoughts: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Part Two)


After I finished rereading Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, I put the book down and stared into space for a couple of seconds.

Saying the book is brilliant would be quite brilliant, but I’m just going to pop that sentiment in here for the sake of posterity. There are so many things I loved about it now that I didn’t even notice before. The way it can endure multiple rereadings, for example. Every time I reread Pride and Prejudice, I never fail to discover something new to love about it or to think about it. I believe that’s the one thing only a true classic can achieve.

Delusional as this may sound, Mr. Darcy didn’t just feel like a fictional character on this reread. He seemed like an actual fully fleshed out human being with various dimensions. Also, he’s still pretty hot. But I digress. By the end of the novel, I felt like I knew him well enough to predict his actions. For example, when Elizabeth receives the letter informing her of Lydia’s elopement with Wickham and Darcy shows up, you just know he’s going to do something about it. I knew and hoped (with both fingers crossed, of course) that he would show up at Longbourn sooner or later.

And that scene where he asks Elizabeth to meet his sister? It’s a pretty suspenseful situation, because, after she rejected him in Rosings, the reader has no idea how Mr. Darcy feels about Elizabeth now. Mr. Darcy’s request for Elizabeth to meet Georgiana Darcy clears up all of the reader’s doubt, and tells you that, yes, Mr. Darcy is still very much in love with Elizabeth Bennet. I think my heart just fluttered a little there.
``There is also one other person in the party,'' he continued after a pause, ``who more particularly wishes to be known to you, -- Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?''
The surprise of such an application was great indeed; it was too great for her to know in what manner she acceded to it. She immediately felt that whatever desire Miss Darcy might have of being acquainted with her must be the work of her brother, and without looking farther, it was satisfactory; it was gratifying to know that his resentment had not made him think really ill of her.
This whole exchange made me wonder about what Mr. Darcy could have possibly told his sister about Elizabeth Bennet. Did he praise her in such glowing terms? Did he share his feelings? Did he give her hope that she might soon have a sister?

In my first post about Pride and Prejudice, I said that I kind of saw things through Mrs. Bennet’s eyes. I take that back now. The only character who could possibly be more annoying than her is Lydia who remains unchanged until the end of the novel. I was amazed by her behavior when she went to visit her family after she married Wickham. The fact that she was even able to show off her ring just makes me wants to smack her.

I don’t think I’ll be able to end this without taking about Miss Bingley. She is spiteful, and jealous, doing everything in her power to diminish Elizabeth Bennet’s charms in Mr. Darcy’s eyes. Needless to say, her backstabbing never worked, and she only ended up hurting herself and looking petty. Like in this scene:
He was resolutely silent however; and, from a determination of making him speak she continued,
``I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to find that she was a reputed beauty; and I particularly recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining at Netherfield, "She a beauty! -- I should as soon call her mother a wit." But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time.''
``Yes,'' replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, ``but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.''
He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced him to say what gave no one any pain but herself.
Bitch, I think you just got owned. 'Nough said.

One of the greatest appeals of Jane Austen’s books is that they are populated by characters who remind us of people we could encounter today. Miss Bingley, for example, reminded me of some girls from high school, and, unfortunately, from college as well. I also know certain girls who are as vain and silly as Lydia Benneth. My only regret is I don’t know a single guy who could even be remotely compared to Mr. Darcy. Like before, I still believe that he stands in a class of his own.

In a nutshell, I love this book as much as ever. It’s not my only favorite now, because it’s tied with Austen’s Persuasion, but I don’t regret that I claimed it as my favorite book for years and years. This book will always be a part of me. The characters, Netherfield, Longbourn, and, of course, Pemberley. I will keep coming back to these people and to these places as often as I can spare the time.

P.S: I just realized that Elizabeth and I are the same age (20). I don’t know whether to be depressed or amused by this realization.


Cassandra said...

Have you read A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens? Although it is nothing like P&P it has helped me understand your feelings for Mr Darcy :)
Sydney Carton, the hero, shares Mr Darcy's sarcasm, although that is about the only thing they have in common. Where Darcy is a gentleman, he is a drunk, shabby wretch, but he is honourable and ultimately sacrifices everything for his love.
So, a hooray for fictional men!

Audra said...

Shamefully, I've never read this one! (I know.) So I need to. Sadly, I'm kind of resistant given all the Darcy-love -- from the tv/movie versions, he seems like a jerk. I'm a Wentworth girl all the way.

Jillian said...

You make me want to reread! I ADORE this book! :D

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I've been saying for a few years that I need to reread this and I still haven't, but now you've got me wanting to pick it up right this instant! If only I didn't have so many library books to deal with...

I love that P&P stands up so well on a reread. And all the wonderful (and wonderfully annoying!) side characters. Oh, I do need to get back to this.

Arielle said...

I know I'm in the minority of women who aren't crazy about P&P or Mr. Darcy. He's decent enough, and I'm sure he does the right thing, but he really lacks..."an open temper". I'm a Mr. Tilney (or William Price) kind of girl.
In my opinion, the book isn't as light and entertaining as Northanger Abbey (I know, juvenilia), nor personally relatable (like Emma), nor multilayered with complex characters (the young people of Mansfield Park).
I have to say that my opinion of Mr. Bennet has changed over time, though. When I was 16, he reminded me of my dad with his sense of humor and lack of interest in mortal affairs. I admired that. Now 20, I'm not so enamored of his lack of interest in his daughters fate...he's really very irresponsible and not as clever as he believed himself to be.


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