Throwback Book Review: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Because I am so busy this month with Camp NaNoWriMo, I thought it would be a good idea to do some easier blog posts so I don’t get too overwhelmed. One of the ideas I thought could be interesting is reviewing a book I’ve already read and telling you my thoughts about it.

And what better book to start with except one of the most famous romances in all of literary fiction. I’ve heard some people praise this book as being one of their favorites, while others think it’s overrated (both statements I agree with). So, with no further ado, let’s get into it!

Release: 1813.

Synopsis: This book tells the tale of prideful Fitzwilliam Darcy, a wealthy bachelor, and prejudiced Elizabeth Bennett, a poor but witty young woman whose mother is determined to marry off all her five daughters. They are brought together through fate and romance and a lot of misunderstandings.

Review

Despite this being a particular favorite of mine, I’m going to be brutally honest in my review. I think even as a fan of something, you should be able to step back and realistically analyze it and even I am willing to admit this book has its strengths and weaknesses.

First of all, the characters. While both Darcy and Lizzie’s characters are interesting, well-motivated, and complex, the rest of the characters are not. Jane and Bingley are sweet. Lydia and Kitty are childish. Wickham is selfish. I could continue, but you get my point. All the characters neatly fit into a simple box, with only a few character traits. Though, considering J. K. Rowling did this in Harry Potter, this is not always a bad thing. One of the reasons this is a good idea to do is because it makes the characters memorable. Even in real life it is easier to categorize people (this person is outgoing, this one loves sports, etc.). However, like in real life, a character should be further developed later on, which Austen does not do in this book. So, while the characters are all interesting, they are not complex.

Next comes the storytelling itself. Similar to most books written during this time, most of the story is told through descriptions. There are even a few conversations which are described instead of shown. While I didn’t mind this, I can understand why some people might be put off by this writing style because often times we’re are told something happened instead of seeing it for ourselves.

The themes are probably the best developed thing within this book. All of Jane Austen’s books are filled with almost cautionary themes. In Emma, it is that you shouldn’t be a busybody, or you will hurt others and yourself. In Sense and Sensibility, the most powerful theme is that you should make decisions in life with your head, not just your heart.

In Pride and Prejudice, it is most assuredly that you should not judge a book by its cover. Lizzie has a negative view of Darcy but a positive one of Wickham when she meets them, but as she gets to know both her opinion switches.

This is a powerful message that I can relate to, even reading this two hundred years after it was written. In the modern day, we too easily make judgements on people. “Oh, your religious, you must be stupid.” “Oh, you like reading teen books, you must be shallow.” Etc.

I personally love observing people, and have realized just how complex a person can be. There are multiple reasons why we do everything we do, and upon first meeting you should not be too quick to judge someone.

Now unto the romance (after all, this is a romance). What I like about the romance are two things: first, they do not experience insta-love (cough Romeo and Juliet cough). They gradually get to know each other’s values, ideals, and opinions. Yes, there are many misunderstandings, but they see each other virtues and faults and still admire each other (Lizzie later than Darcy). On the surface, many people complain that this is the single book that started the rich guy, poor girl trend, which is a valid point.

But, for me, while I enjoy the romance, that was always less interesting to me than all the other relationships within this book. The close bond between Lizzie and Jane. Darcy and Bingley’s friendship. The deep motivation of Mrs. Bennet to see her daughters marry well. There are humorous scenes as well as dark scenes.

I think this is a book very much of its time. Now-a-days, if a girl ran away with her sweetheart, most people wouldn’t bat an eye. It is a different world, and perhaps that is what is so appealing to the modern audience. That idealistic, happy ending story filled with misunderstandings, romance, and dancing.

Let me just say, I agree that Pride and Prejudice is extremely overrated. I’ve compared it many times to North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, saying the plot is extremely similar and yet North and South is so much deeper and more complex. And yet it is Pride and Prejudice which is so popular.

Even among Jane Austen’s books, Pride and Prejudice is by far the easiest read.
When you take this into consideration, I can see why so many people dislike Pride and Prejudice. However, that does not mean the book itself is bad. It was one of the first adult classics I ever read, and it paved the way for my love of classics in general.

Many people who would not normally read classics have read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, and I think that is a great thing in itself.

Put it beside War and Peace and it cannot compare, but put it next to Twilight and it looks like a masterpiece.

Perhaps this book, like all others, is all about the eye of the beholder (or, in this case, reader). While it is overrated, it is still an interesting book and holds a special place in my heart.

What are your thoughts about this book? Do you think it’s overrated? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

8 thoughts on “Throwback Book Review: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  1. P&P is not even my favorite Austen, but it’s probably one of the books I’ve read the most. You make a good point about North and South, too. I’m surprised it’s not more famous; it’s like Austen and Dickens combined.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reading books is in the eye of the beholder. When reading a fiction story, my perspective is a filter lens. My maturity and life experiences are a big part of my perspective. For example: I read The Secret Garden as a child. Later, I read the book as an adult in my 40s. Both readings brought big differences in the perspective of the story. I read War and Peace a couple of years ago. I know how it feels to have a loved one at war. So this part of the story in War and Peace stood out to me: how the war impacted civilians. Books also have a strong way of helping me have empathy for others. Recently, I read a memoir about a woman who has major depression. My perspective before was not critical or cruel, because my own son has depression. But reading this account gave me a view I’d not had before. I really like Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion is my favorite of Jane Austen’s. Persuasion is about regret, loss, and a second chance (a theme.) Do I always personalize the books I read? No, but mostly yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think every reader personalizes the books they read. I know I do. I’ve read books as an adult that I read as a child and had completely different thoughts about them. Our experiences shape our interests. So I completely understand what you’re saying! I like Pride and Prejudice too, though Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen book. But by far Persuasion is the deepest of her books, so I get why it’s your favorite. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

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