Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
pages 179-360 (181 pages)
From: Jane Austen: The Complete Novels
Gramercy, 1994 edition
ISBN-13: 978-0517118290
classic romance

Synopsis from Penguin:
Many consider this rich social commentary to be Jane Austen's finest novel. It is certainly among her more famous ones. Austen sets her entertaining study of manners and misconceptions against the backdrop of a class-conscious society in 18th-century England.

Spirited, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet is alternately enchanted and affronted by Mr. Darcy. She is quick to suspend her usual, more rational judgment when it comes to him. She also is quick to believe the worst gossip about this haughty, opinionated man, who soon manages to alienate Elizabeth and her family. But is the condescending air that Mr. Darcy wars an indication of his real character? Or has Elizabeth's pride gotten in the way of her chance for true romance?
My Thoughts:

I DID IT! I have now read Pride and Prejudice. Take that Just Me! You too, Hipee! It took fifty years but I now have that monkey off my back! I hereby declare that: Yes, it is worthy of being a classic and I understand why people proclaim their undying love for it. Austen is witty and clever and deserves all the praise, but, ultimately, no, I really did not enjoy it. I think I would be hard pressed to enjoy any eighteenth century romance novel, even a classic. I'm not an Anglophile. I normally don't enjoy historical fiction. I don't like romance novels. Plus there were no surprises. (Come on, it would be hard to be my age and not know the plot.)

So, even though I was being a huge Critical Monkey over NOT reading Austen and I'll admit that for the Don't be A-Hatin' Amendment I deserved to have Austen assigned to me as a novel I have been snobbish about not reading and should have read, ultimately in the end my feelings were spot-on and Austen was not my cup of tea. Since this is a beloved classic my lack of enjoyment matters not. I have put off reading this novel for years but now I'm feeling a real sense of accomplishment over completing my first Critical Monkey book, as assigned to me by Just Me. Yes! I did it! I suppose reading Austen could have been on a personal bucket list. No one need ever harass me to read Pride and Prejudice ever again! Who would have ever imagine it would feel so good to have tackled this major hurdle.


IT IS a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. opening

NOT all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him in various ways; with barefaced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all; and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of their neighbour Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley's heart were entertained. (chapter 3) pg 182

What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted one of her daughters. (chapter 3) pg. 183

``Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never. What could be more natural than his asking you again? He could not help seeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to his gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person.'' (chapter 4) pg. 184

Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced. Their behaviour at the assembly had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgment, too, unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them. They were in fact very fine ladies, not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank; and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others.(chapter 4) pg 185

``Pride,'' observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, ``is a very common failing I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed, that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonimously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.'' (chapter 5) pg. 187

``I am not now to learn,'' replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, ``that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.'' (chapter 19) pg. 229

``Nay,'' said Elizabeth, ``this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable, and are hurt if I speak ill of any body. I only want to think you perfect, and you set yourself against it. Do not be afraid of my running into any excess, of my encroaching on your privilege of universal good will. You need not. There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense. I have met with two instances lately; one I will not mention; the other is Charlotte's marriage. It is unaccountable! in every view it is unaccountable!'' (chapter 24) pg. 241

This is a special bonus note to anyone who pays attention to the quotes.

May I also add that after reading Pride and Prejudice the little review I received of it for a teen newsletter several years ago looks even more pathetic now then it did at the time I received it. This is exactly how it was submitted to me:

"although hard to follow at times and hard to keep a the characters straight. Pride and Prejudice is one of the best books I have ever read. Seeing how a young woman had to live back then is trying and sometimes hard, but I'm glad I have had the chance to read it and see how it was. Seeing how a man could marry any woman he wanted if he had enough money and that if your not pretty enough you get nothing. But nowadays women have the same chance to get a job as a man does. Fortunately I get to live in the 21st century and have all of the wonderful things I have. BUT as I have said it is one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and seeing as most of us are in high school I suggest reading it if you get the chance ( and when your all done see the movie) thank you for letting me share my opinion "

Sometimes it's OK to be a critical monkey...


Jane said...

Wow! Good for you!
I've not read it either...
& I don't see me reading it anytime soon. LOL
Who knows though, maybe someday. I never would have thought that you would read it!
I guess never say never!

Lori L said...

It is hard to believe, isn't it? I finally read Pride and Prejudice!

Jeanne said...

I love P&P, but am vastly amused that you read it and confirmed your suspicions. I also loved the part in the high school review about how now women can just get a job!

Lori L said...

Congratulations Jeanne! You read to the end of the review, LOL! P&P is loved and cherished by many people as their favorite book ever, including my sister. I'll freely admit that my not feeling that way must be some sort of personal defect.