Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

There is a long list of books weighing on my conscience. That list of books that I should have read by now. And after the enjoyment I got out Jane Eyre, I thought Pride and Prejudice should be the next to cross off that list. And, though I'm happy to have removed another from that long list, the experience was far from pleasurable.

Pride and Prejudice is the superficial tale of Lizzie Bennet's quest to be married to the abominable Mr. Darcy. She resists, she is willful, but Jane Austen shows us that this was a mistake of prejudice. She was mistaken in her judgement and should, therefore, accept her suitor.

There are a slew of other marriages in the book, some more appropriate and fortuitous than others. But have no doubt, Pride and Prejudice is centered around the marriage plot. Sure, there is critique of the "condescension" of the upper classes, as there is of the pride there is in all of us that allows us to form unfounded judgments of others. Subject matter aside, there is nothing to make this book enjoyable.

The writing itself is dull and without any discernible style. Where Austen does exhibit skill is in characterization. She draws her characters distinctively, even if much of that distinctiveness comes from the prejudicial perspective of other characters.  Lizzie's father is a distinctive, though secondary character. He is used to deliver some of the novel's best critiques, all with a point of view belonging to the character.

Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown.... To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given.

I cannot see what has forced Pride and Prejudice to persist on these lists of classic novels. I'd have been happy to skip it. But I can at least take pleasure in the bold line that crosses out the title.

1 comment:

  1. The book is indeed very good ... and i have heard that there is also a movie inspired from this book ... thank you for the post .