I bought this copy at a second hand shop in Mumbai, when I was 19 and ready to go to college. Since then, I tried reading it twice and failed to finish it for the language was too much to get into and I felt discouraged. But I finally picked it up and I am grateful I did because it is one of the best books I have ever read. Pride and Prejudice is a story about family, friendships, love and most importantly, first impressions. It is interesting that I found out Austen had initially titled it as “First Impressions” and later changed it into Pride and Prejudice after watching a play. Either way, the title is very apt for the pride in the title signifies the hero of the story, Mr. Darcy and Prejudice represents the heroine Elizabeth Bennet.
The story revolves around the Bennet family involving a hysterical mother, a calm and indifferent father, five daughters with significantly varying personalities. The mother is one of those melodramatic women who thinks women ought to get married at a certain age or it is the end of the world. For her, the only aim in life is to get her daughters settled in affluent families. In lieu of that, she engages the girls at various balls in the neighborhood in the hope of getting them acquainted with suitors. At such a ball, Elizabeth meets with Mr. Darcy. At first encounter, Darcy is rather indifferent to Lizzy’s presence. Lizzy happens to overhear a conversation between Darcy and someone else where he mentions how unattractive and plain Lizzy is and how he doesn’t wish to dance with her at any cost. This lays the foundation for prejudice in Lizzy against Mr. Darcy. However, unaware of his pride and vulnerabilities, Mr. Darcy gradually starts to fall for Elizabeth. But Lizzy continues to believe that Mr. Darcy feels nothing but resentment towards her. How her dislike and prejudice for Mr. Darcy evolves into love is the whole gist of the story.
Elizabeth has become one of my favourite female characters ever written. She is outspoken, witty and full of satire. Her good humour cannot go unappreciated. The writing is beautiful and the plot moves at a moderate pace flowing smoothly from one event to another. Highly recommended! 5⭐/5
One thought on “Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: A book review!”
Understated is the theme of natural CASTE which flows under the narrative of this novel. Caste not in the strict socially-instituted sense, but as the “natural” or “divine” caste with which we are born (rather than into which we are born). See how the character of the different sisters leads them to be suitable for members of different levels of society. How understanding, prejudice and judgement, carefulness or lack thereof, daring or lack thereof, and intelligence sifts naturally and without politics or religion.
This is why Elizabeth is suited to and ultimately is matched Mr. Darcy, and not, for instance, her clumsy and narrow-minded, if functional and stable, cousin. And also why one of the youngest daughters of the Bennett family by her own choices as arising from her own character is probably aiming for the lowest wrungs of society.
I write these lines consciously even as I am an anarchist at heart, as observation of how hierarchy arises naturally and people are not only pigeonholed artificially by others, but also fall into spots by their overall functionality, so to speak. I say this as one who thinks we can break free from our own cages.
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