This week marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice. I wonder if Austen every dreamed her book would have such staying power, or if she would be horrified by all of the spin-offs from her incredible novel.
Pride and Prejudice, for those of you who have somehow managed to miss this work, is the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters, and her romance with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Of course, their relationship begins on rocky footing with Mr. Darcy refusing to dance at a ball, deeming none of the women suitable. Over the course of the novel, the two continue to encounter each other, and Mr. Darcy, at least, grows fond of Elizabeth. His harsh criticisms of her family, however, cause her to reject his clumsy proposal. Who can't help but smile at the scene where Darcy comes out of the blue to declare his intentions to her?
"'In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.'
Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent." (from Pride and Prejudice).
Illustration from Pride and Prejudice
Austen's writing contains so many insights into human behavior that it resonates even today, two hundred years later. Her characters are flawed, which makes them all the more lovable. Austen's novels have happy endings, and getting there is fun. Early in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth says to Darcy, "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." The journey from that beginning to their happy ending is a literary pleasure.
If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice, you might want to indulge now, and see what has given it such popularity. As for me, I think it is about time to read it again. Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!