Why good morning everyone! It’s Sunday and today marks the beginning of a new feature here at Words That Fly. This is the Classics Corner where Lisa, K (from Baffled Books) and I will review a different classic every week. The reviews will be featured here and at Baffled Books on an alternating basis. So I’ll be starting these reviews here at Words That Fly, next week the review will be hosted at Baffled Books and will be written by Lisa, and the week after the review will be hosted here again and will be written by K from Baffled Books. This week, I’ll be reviewing Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I hope you’ll all enjoy it.
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
(Picture and Description compliments of Goodreads)
Overall, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. I first read it in an abridged version for children when I was young and I read and reread it year after year. At some point I believe I got my hands on an unabridged version and read it and fell in love with Jane Austen and her work all over again. Of course, I didn’t really remember reading it but after reading ‘Reading Like A Writer’ by Francine Prose I had the urge to read the classics and Jane Austen’s works were at the top of my list. So I borrowed a copy from my housemate, Lisa from Baffled Books, and reread it.
As I read it, I remembered why I loved the story so much. I love the way the story was written and the characters and the language. Reading it with an open mind also made me aware of all the things we could learn from her writing. The only downside? The language is different from what we’re used to and getting into it might be hard at first but once you do it’s quite fun.
Jane Austen chose to use the third person POV and she uses it well. The story flows smoothly and I swear I can almost hear a woman’s voice pronouncing each word clearly as I read it. Although she speaks and has her characters speak in a manner which is different from that of today, it is easy to understand and a joy to read and immerse ourselves in it.
Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favourite characters of all time. She is one of the original strong, intelligent female characters who exists as strong without sacrificing her femininity or society’s conventions. She is something more and this makes her, her father’s favourite though not her mother’s as this extra quality is not something physical and obvious to the naked eye. Austen does a lovely job of revealing aspects of Elizabeth’s character through dialogue and action and she does it in such a way that by the end of the book we cannot help but feel that we truly know Elizabeth Bennet and that we understand all that drives her.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, more commonly referred to as Darcy throughout the novel, is our unwilling hero it would appear or at least at first. His first impression of Elizabeth is not a pleasant one and his when he voices his opinion of her and she hears it, he alienates her significantly and also manages to alienate just about everyone else with his antisocial behaviour. As time passes, Darcy comes to see past his original impression and begins to notice admirable qualities in Elizabeth but cannot win her over, not until he helps her family in a way that can never be repaid. With each turn and twist, the shifting of his original disdain for Elizabeth into love for her is utterly natural and believable. By the end of the novel we discover that while he is not as social and outgoing as others that he is an admirable man.
There are several other characters who we can argue play a big part, however, I look at them as being supporting characters but I have places them in groupings. Jane and Bingley, while a large part of the story, seem to serve as points of comparison for Elizabeth and Darcy. We know that Darcy is said to be more rich than Bingley but he cannot compare in disposition and their close friendship will always throw them together so we can never forget what it is that the other characters in the book see when they survey Darcy. Jane and Elizabeth are close and while we know outright that Elizabeth can never compare to Jane in terms of looks, there are less obvious differences. Jane is entirely more idealistic than Elizabeth and less observant and discerning when it comes to people.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet provide provide preliminary introductions to the personalities of other characters. This can be seen in the first chapter when they first speak of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Bennet points out that Elizabeth is his favourite and Mrs. Bennet argues that their other daughters have desirable traits that Elizabeth lacks. I also believe the three younger Bennet girls serve as points of comparison for Elizabeth. Where they are young and frivolous and irresponsible, Elizabeth is not.
We’re all familiar with this sort of romance: where the heroine has every reason to dislike her ‘hero’ due to several grave character flaws yet by the end of the story she’s received sufficient reasoning behind all his actions and not only forgives his transgressions but admits her love for him. Jane Austen’s manner of handling this conundrum was so subtle and skilful that it is rendered entirely believable. How could Elizabeth not come to love Darcy after he does so much for her? How could she not love him when they are so right for one another? Jane Austen managed to weave a beautiful love story while entwining a number of intriguing subplots and create a gorgeous tapestry of a story.
Highlight of the Novel
Personally, I felt like Jane Austen did a superb job with respect to her dialogue. It felt perfectly natural within the context of the story and it contributed to the tale being told rather than detracted from it. It also served as an important medium for revealing the personalities of her characters. I was surprised at the wittiness that was translated in many of Elizabeth’s words, as well as the snubs that were hidden in the language that Bingley’s sisters used. It was an astonishing discovery and it is something writers could do to learn from
I’m struggling with the idea of rating classics. At this current point I’m not going to rate them. If anyone feels like it would be a good idea for me to do it drop me a line and I’ll edit the post to add a rating.
So, I’m sure everyone would’ve noticed that this review is structured similarly to my usual book review but at the same time it’s very different. Classics are very different from the books written and read today. Classics were born in another time and they usually portray that in terms of language, scenery, customs etc. They’ve also stood the test of time and appeal to wider audiences. Quite frankly they’re on a different level and cannot be looked at in the same way. I’d also feel terrible if I were to criticise the work of a deceased writer which has survived for so long. So I hope everyone finds my review sufficiently suitable. The structure of this review is subject to change and review styles should be expected to differ depending on the author of the review so please bear with us. Thanks in advance everyone.
Look out for Monday’s Morning Muse. I’m still torn as to what to review but I believe I’ve settled on looking at a retelling. Hope everyone’s looking forward to it.
Read those classics!
K, the Popinjay.