The oddest confluence of events recently collided and led me to reread Jane Austin’s, “Pride and Prejudice.” First let me say it is a literary work of art that had endured the ages for good reason. The voice she gives her characters is remarkable and the way she narrates the story, mostly from Elizabeth’s perceptions and character is charming. Unlike modern romance, Austin’s characters actually engage in some self-reflection and get to know the nature of themselves.
That said, I can hardly abide this darn book! This is my fourth reading, and you may well ask why one would torture themselves wading through it, not once, but four times. Well, quite simply for the same reason we read many books, to better know the nature of ourselves.
Charlotte Bronte actually summed up my feelings well when she complained that the book was, “a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but … no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck.”
Precisely. It is absolutely suffocating, a gilded cage with perfectly manicured flowers. I am torn between the urge to pleasantly bake Mr. Darcy a batch of brownies, heavily laced with horse laxatives, or to just throw myself out of a tower window somewhere and be done with it. I would not have survived five minutes among the landed gentry of the time and would likely have completely destroyed their drawing-room in a fit of boredom. I am all about the, “open country, fresh air, and bonny beck,” that Bronte mentions.
Is there a stable boy in this story or a pirate? Because I could quite easily see myself running off with the stable boy and forever disgracing the family name.
Elizabeth laments, “How despicably have I acted…..I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.”
Take heart my dear Elizabeth, I’ve already revealed my urge to poison Mr.Darcy and run off with the stable boy. I haven’t just “driven reason away,” I’m quite prepared to drive the entire crazy train right off its tracks.
Poor Mr Darcy, he’s such a good and honorable man and I’m really quite sure you’re just prejudiced against him because of his boorish manners, rude behavior, and total obsession with class and status. If we could just try to remember that £10,000 a year….
Obviously I am not charmed by the habits and ways of the landed gentry, nor am I overly impressed with high society. The underlying theme however, the idea of relinquishing pride, developing empathy, getting to know the nature of yourself, those are good principles, a sound recipe for success if you wish to allow love to blossom.