Publication Date: Originally published 1813
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Age Group: All Ages
What is it about Pride and Prejudice that makes it such a successfil and romantic love story? Why do Elizabeth (Lizzy to her friends) Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy appeal to us, and make such a dynamic duo?
I first read P&P when I was fifteen and spending the last two weeks of my summer holidays trying not to look like a dunce in literature by reading classics. I expected to struggle, to miss the fantasty realms I was used to, what I didn't expect was to fall head over heels in love with this book.
Let's talk Lizzy (aka. What I Liked About This Book): Elizabeth Bennet, possibly my favourite character of all time, has it all: wit, loyalty and a clear independent streak. She makes me wish the world was still as genteel as it is in P&P, imagine being able to make a cutting remark through a veneer of polite chitchat, it would make a fight a great deal more interesting!
Lizzy is a controlled and cultured figure with a strong undercurrent of passion and affection that means one thing: you want to be her, or you want her as a best friend.
Lizzy has an interesting position in the novel, second and favourite daughter to a negligent father, cleverest of several silly sisters and the love interest of one of England's most wealthy gentlemen.
The circumstances should squish her, but instead:
"There is a stubborness about [her] that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me." - Ch 31Lizzy is easily the greatest of her sisters with only Jane and Lydia competing for colour in their characters, and their colour is rather dull. Lydia has a touch of spunk and personality (likely what drew Wickham to her) but she acts too much the spoilt brat while Jane is sugar, spice and everything nice. Everything that makes me want to be sick. She might be the perfect sister but she is completely and utterly boring. Jane's only redemption is the turmoil in her courtship with Bingley.
The Importance of Being Darcy: If I had to choose a favourite male lead from Austen's work Darcy would be a close pick but he might have to duel Captain Wentworth at dawn with pistols. I think I tend to favour Darcy a little because I've loved him longest, so let me tell you why I love him.
I love a grumpy man, a guy with a temper, a dude with a 'tude! All that arrogance and anger usually lead to men with strong emotions, and men with strong emotions are usually passionately affectionate; just as Darcy is with Elizabeth.
It also doesn't hurt that Colin First starred as William Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation (the only one worth watching). Just saying.
Though we see little of them as a couple, EB and FD are incandescent when they are together. Misunderstandings aside, their banter shows a deeper understanding of each other than anyone else has of either of them.
What About Wickham (aka. What I Didn't Like): Bloody Wickham has caused one too many problems in my book. He is a snide, sneaky bastard and I don't see any of his reputed charm. I despise him, his lies and most especially his debauchery. I pity poor Lydia and wish she had any other option. Her childish optimism will fade and I'm glad we will never see her bitterness.
I'm going to talk William Collins in this section for a moment. I've just expressed my distaste and hatred for Wickham, but let me tell you, I have never been more creeped out, disgusted or horrified by a character in my entire life. William Collins is the epitome of shoe licking, squelchy, pervy toad in the shape of a parson. I commend Austen for writing such an appalling character but I also wish she hadn't supplied my nightmares with such a horrifying prospect. Yick.
There are a lot more reasons why I love Pride and Prejudice but for a final note, I loved it because it sucked me right into the world of Elizabeth Bennet. I understood who she was in life, and slowly began to realise what she needed from life, and little by little I was delighted as my new literary best friend fell in love.