Sunday, May 18, 2014

Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

In a time period where women were financially screwed over, ladies had to hope to marry a rich man in order to attain any sense of security. This unfortunate circumstance led many to only consider wealth when finding a husband, but Elizabeth Bennett will have no part in that; she wants to marry for love. All the while, her mother is trying to shove Elizabeth and her sisters into the arms of rich men and embarrasses the family with her obvious, ill-mannered attempts. But that doesn't stop Mr. Darcy, one of the wealthiest men around, from gaining affection for Elizabeth. But Elizabeth doesn't love him... Not yet anyway.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is like the godmother of classic novels. It's the classic story that just about everyone who likes to read praises unabashedly. Unfortunately, I deviated from this standard. That's right - I wasn't crazy about Pride and Prejudice - for your own sake, do not throw rotten food at your computer screen right now amid your intense frustration. But I honestly wanted to love this book like everyone else does; I imagine all the praise I've heard about it made me set the bar ridiculously high. Hence, this has to be one of my biggest book disappointments... perhaps THE biggest book disappointment in my reading life thus far.
I can pinpoint exactly why I didn't like this novel as much as I wanted to: The lightheartedness. It's been said that Charlotte Bronte wasn't fond of Jane Austen because she found her work dispassionate; I knew that much going into this read. Usually, when I hear criticism of books, by the time I'm finished I'll think something along the lines of "Oh, I see where they got that from, but it didn't bother me." But in this case, I completely agree with Bronte, and consequently, this lighthearted love story continuously made me think of Jane Eyre (which is one of my favorite books of all time) and compare the two. Jane Eyre is such an incredibly emotional novel; Jane and Rochester's relationship was so vivid and real to me, which is one of several reasons why I loved that novel so much... This wasn't the case for Darcy and Elizabeth. They hardly had a relationship in my eyes, and they barely made it known to the other how they really felt. Even when Rochester was set to marry another, I could tell that he was partial to Jane, but in Pride and Prejudice, actual declarations of love just seemed so passive and unfeeling. Emotion is what drives me as both a reader and a writer, so I couldn't get into this. I couldn't feel.

The lightheartedness of Pride and Prejudice could be seen as an asset in other areas, for it's quite humorous. Elizabeth's mother is absolutely mental; sometimes I laughed as I read her melodramatic dialogue. Mr. Collins, Lydia, and Mary were also quite whimsical - especially when contrasted with Mr. Bennett (I found him to be one of the most normal characters). These characters made me smile, I'll admit that, and Charlotte absolutely frustrated me, as I imagine Lizzy was frustrated... It's just not enough for me. I wanted more than a smile or two here and there.

I really don't have anything else to say about it, and that makes me sad. Pride and Prejudice is told in such a proper manner that I couldn't connect with it at all. I wanted to love Mr. Darcy, I wanted to admire Elizabeth... But I couldn't. Because I didn't feel anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment