Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a teenager – and I loved it. Since then, I watched the A&E movie multiple times, and then last year I watched the newer movie, which was OK. I felt it was certainly time to revisit the novel itself.

I was not disappointed. I loved it even better now.

I listened to the Librivox recording of Pride and Prejudice. While the narration was amateur, I still enjoyed the words and found it far better to experience the novel than to experience the movie(s), much as I enjoyed them. There is something about Jane Austen’s language and character development that cannot be fully contained in a full-length movie – even a six-hour version as the A&E movie is. The book wins, hands down.

Who What When Where Why

In rereading the rest of this post I wrote, I realize it won’t make much sense if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice. Sorry. I guess I’m assuming that most people have. So here’s a brief rundown for those who haven’t read it. The rest of this post probably contains spoilers of the ending. Much has been omitted.

Who? Elizabeth and Jane Bennett and their three younger sisters; also, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.

What? Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy hate each other (or do they?); Jane and Mr. Bingley like each other (or do they?); somehow, they all need to fall in love and get married.

When? soon

Where? Meryton in Hertfordshire, with side trips to Kent and Derbyshire

Why? Because Elizabeth and Jane must get married soon; they will be old maids at 23!

The Characters

The best part of Pride and Prejudice is the characters. I think Elizabeth is the perfect headstrong girl – what I always wanted to be: someone who didn’t put up with the “flightiness” around her, who won’t settle for the sleazy “Mr. Collin’s” of the world.

But like Elizabeth, I’m judgmental when I first met people, and I can see myself reacting in similar ways to the people around me. That is not necessarily a good thing; what I’m saying is that I could relate to the character.

I also sincerely love Mr. Darcy – and it’s not because I picture Colin Firth from the A&E movie, who I’ve decided is not all that handsome. Darcy is the handsome man.

No, that’s not it. Instead, I love Mr. Darcy because he is the ideal imperfect man. I really can’t explain why that is. When Elizabeth hates him and he secretly loves her, they have this conversation, Elizabeth teasing him:

”I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.” [said Elizabeth.]

”No” — said Darcy, ”I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. — It is I believe too little yielding — certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. — My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”

That is a failing indeed!” — cried Elizabeth. ”Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. — I really cannot laugh at it; you are safe from me.”

”There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”

”And your defect is a propensity to hate every body.”

”And yours,” he replied with a smile, ”is wilfully to misunderstand them.”

I just love that scene: it perfectly illustrates the “pride and prejudice” in those characters. When Elizabeth later comes to realize that they are perfect matches for each other, the tenderness of their subsequent conversation just makes me sigh.

I’m a cheesy romantic. And I seriously love this book.

Book to Movie and Back to Book

Amanda recently compared the two movies to the book, and as I listened to the book, I found myself doing the same. I have to agree that after reading/listening to the book again, Mr. Collins in the A&E version is a bit overdone. The actor was a very good slimy character, but Mr. Collins in the book wasn’t quite so slimy. I still like the A&E one because the other one is far too short, omitted far too many details and characters, and felt rushed. The A&E one felt like there were seasons changing.

But the book is better than either movie. Even listening to it via amateur narration was just wonderful. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?

A special note for P&P fans: someone rewrote Pride and Prejudice for facebook. I personally don’t like Facebook but still — this turns Facebook into a genius!

This review seems rather disjointed and unhelpful. I wrote most of it last night and I guess I was too tired to think clearly. Maybe one of these other reviews might help you get a better idea of the novel.

Reviewed on February 24, 2009

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I love P&P! And the book definitely beats the movie every time (though I own that too). Mr. Darcy is a great imperfect man, although he’s not my favourite Austen hero.

    I got the annotated edition for Christmas, and I’m saving it for a rainy day. But I don’t know how much longer my willpower will hold out!

  • I agree that nothing compares to the source material when it comes to Austen. But when it comes to the movies, in my mind, the A&E version is the ONLY version of P&P one can even consider! Kiera Knightley is no Elizabeth Bennet, and after Colin Firth, what other actor could fill Darcy’s boots?

    I love the playful nature of P&P, as well as it’s playfulness and humor. As my first exposure to Austen, I was amazed at how pointed some of her barbs and jibes could be, and particularly adored Lizzie’s encounters with Darcy at the various balls on that front. But in the end, I love P&P because it makes me melt and never fails to completely cocoon me in its wonderful happily-ever-after story. For me, it is my favorite Austen novel hands down.

    Oh, related to my first time reading P&P, I was about 16 years old and began reading it one night. I became so enraptured with it that I actually feigned sick the next day so that I could stay home from school to continue reading it! I had to know what would happen with Lizzie and Darcy!

  • Nymeth, it really is delicious language!

    Eva, “annotated P&P” sounds great. Glad you liked the “austenbook” spoof.

    Ladytink, why is that? because you don’t care to or because you just haven’t yet?

    Steph, I mostly agree — but I thought the Kiera Knighley one was OK. It was just a “typical” book to movie adaption. I usually don’t like those; it met my expectation. The A&E one I think was exceptional. I am with you: I love the “happily-ever-after story. And that’s a great “first reading” story!

  • Of course nothing can compare to the books by Jane Austen, but I really enjoy watching the movie adaptations (particularly the recent-er ones) for the beautiful cinematography and costumes. That said, I really detest Kiera Knightley’s sniffing-and-giggling-and-braying acting.

    Steph, I haven’t seen the Colin Firth one, but I still reckon the other guy’s pretty schmexy!

    ps. the Facebook P&P is <3

  • Okay, translation: “the Facebook P&P is <3” =
    “Austenbook is the greatest thing I’ve seen in a while!”

    <3 is a love-heart. Sideways, hahah!

    Personally, I have never seen Colin Firth as Darcy material, but I haven’t watched the film, so…

  • Tuesday, watch the A&E version and then you will see how Colin Firth is so totally Darcy! He’s so austere in the role and when he gives his “In vain I have suffered, it will not do!” speech? Sigh. So good. After seeing him in the role, that other guy, schmexy or not, ain’t gonna cut it!

  • I recently watched the A&E version which made me pull out my copy of the book and skimmed over those lovely scenes, one of them you posted here. Can’t help but love the book all over again.

    Oh and goodness, can I borrow that line the ideal imperfect man? Lovely thought indeed πŸ™‚

  • I disagree vehemently that Keira Knightly is “no Lizzie Bennet”! She is PERFECT as the quick-minded, rebellious and outspoken favorite of her father, who fends off suitors faster and better than HE ever could!

    This is my favorite adaptation of the book, mainly for this reason; it distills Austen’s often laborious dialogue and narrative down to its essence without giving away much to modern sensitivity (the endless curtseying and bowing!).

    Matthew McFadyen beats Firth hands down as the tongue-tied, obstreperous yet gorgeous Mr Darcy. And Tom Hollander as Mr Collins is hilarious and pathetic. The whole cast, particularly Donald Sutherland as Mr Bennet, is nearly perfect. I rarely prefer film adaptations over favorite novels, but in this case, I must!

    • Gwynneth Β» ha ha, isn’t it great that they keep making movies so everyone can find some version they like? I didn’t like Keira Knightly as Lizzie Bennet, but you are free to like her! I still prefer the book myself πŸ™‚

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