Book review: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
In an elusive and distant past where the major priority was money and social status, the greatest love can originate. From the dust of a declining, materialistic society, a strong and clean love emerges with all its power, waiting to be fulfilled. Great classical novels have proven that love can conquer all time after time, such as in Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice”.
“Pride and Prejudice” was first published in 1813, a long 14 years after it was written under the title of “First Impressions”. Jane Austen is considered one of the precursors of the modern romance novel, a genre well-represented by her novels. However, far from being just a romance novel, “Pride and Prejudice” also disguises the author’s opinion on social issues of her time.
The novel is based on the theme of prejudice in the 19th century, exposing the social conventions and materialism that plagued the society of that period. It also shows how wealth and a high social status aren’t that important to the worth of a person, emphasizing the importance of morality and a good upbringing. The storyline stands as a proof of the power of love, a feeling that can go against social norms and defy the expectations of a corrupted society.
The main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy met by total casualty at a social manifestation of extravagance and avant-garde: the local assembly, where young ladies tried to win the hearts of gentlemen by using their looks and thus, obtain a higher social status. The two despised each other when they first met, a feeling that is later fed by the circumstances and the negative impression that Elizabeth had about Mr. Darcy’s character. Despite their initial dislike for each other, the two soon find themselves drawn to one another and Elizabeth realizes that Mr. Darcy is in fact a very kind man, underneath his apparent pride. Their relationship is met with disproval and prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s family, but their love is stronger and defeats every setback.
By crafting intelligent, witty characters and using humor, Jane Austen criticizes the flaws of the society of her time and exposes the wrong mentality that was pervasive in the 19th century. Through the independence of Elizabeth, the first echoes of feminism can be heard. The novel also presents other social issues such as the rise of the middle class, the relationships between the sexes and the way women were viewed in society.
While the main theme of the novel is perhaps less relevant to nowadays’ society, “Pride and Prejudice” is still one of the most read and enjoyed books in the world. The love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy still fascinates modern day readers and has spawned a large number of adaptations, films and theatre plays. Through the sheer richness of the characters’ portrayal and the beauty of the storyline, “Pride and Prejudice” has become one of the most beloved novels of all time.