Welcome back everyone! It’s another Austen Adventures. This time, Mathuri and I are tackling Pride and Prejudice, which is arguably Jane Austen’s most famous work. It focuses on the life of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters. Of course, there are a number of gentlemen who appear throughout the novel. Well, you know about the story I am sure. Just as with the last post, there are some spoilers in this discussion.
We hope you enjoy the read!
Jane Austen’s original title for the novel was First Impressions. What role do first impressions play in Pride and Prejudice?
Jessica: I think that they play a major role. For instance, I think that the main reason Elizabeth dislikes Darcy at first is because he comes off as standoffish and, frankly, not charming at all. That helps to lead her to believe Wickham at first in my opinion. Although I think that’s helped by the fact that Wickham is more personable when he first meets people. Of course I think that he does that in order to manipulate people, but a first impression wouldn’t indicate that would it? Or, at least, you would have to be a very cynical person to believe that everyone is trying to manipulate you.
While you can change first impressions, I think that depending on the intensity of such an impression is difficult, which is also built into Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth and her changing her opinion. Of course, that part is intensified simply because she is a stubborn person and kind of judgemental in the beginning (her character progression plays a role in her changed opinion).
Mathuri: I agree with Jessica, first impressions definitely play a role in the book. I loved reading about Elizabeth’s development throughout the series, and how prejudiced she reacts to Darcy towards the beginning. Both Elizabeth and Darcy have negative perceptions of each other. They both also go through the journey of learning from their initial mistaken assumptions, and admit to themselves when they’re wrong. I also agree with Jessica’s thoughts on Wickham. First impressions are mostly unreliable in this book, and Wickham is just one of the examples.
Famous first line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Is this still true? What about single women in possession of a good fortune?
Jessica: Was this ever a universal truth? In any case, no I don’t think that it is true. I’m sure that there are many men who don’t want to get married at all. Sometimes I think it is the matter of meeting the right woman, however, in some case it definitely does just come down to not wanting to get married. This also applies to women. While I want to get married myself, I know that there are plenty who don’t. It’s not a right or wrong choice either way, but it is a personal one and I do not believe that the same choice works for everyone.
Mathuri: It was true for Austen’s time, but definitely not true now. I agree with Jess, it’s more to each their own! There’s no right choice these days, and it’s completely up to the individual (and their influencers), as to if marriage is a consideration. I would love to add in both Jessica’s and my favourite adaption of any Austen works, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, even Lizzie questions the truth within this sentence. They way Lizzie says “Universal truth? Really?” is probably the most accurate way of describing I feel about this line.
How plausible is this love story? Are we supposed to believe that Darcy is okay with being related to Wickham? Are we supposed to swallow that Darcy got over his aversion to the lower classes after a few months?
Jessica: I don’t think that Darcy is okay with being related to Wickham, but I also think that he does love Elizabeth. You would do a lot of things for the person you love. He might grow to be okay with it eventually maybe, but at the end of the novel I don’t think that he is.
I do believe it is possible that he got over his aversion to the lower class though. I don’t think that it was an intense “hatred” or anything. To me, it was just an arrogance–or rather, pride–and when he fell for Elizabeth, I know that he began to lose that pride. I wish that we got to see inside his mind, but unfortunately we did not. I think that it just comes down to love changing things. You cannot help who you fall for.
In my opinion, parts of this love story do seem a little hard to believe. At least, they do for me. What exactly was it that Darcy saw in Elizabeth? With his aversion, though I believe it was wrong, what triggered a change? I can accept that his opinion changed, but why? If we got chapters in his point of view we might be able to venture a guess. I know why Elizabeth’s opinion changed during her time at Pemberley, but that’s because we got to see it from her perspective. We saw that Darcy began to “thaw” and that he was kind when he did. When I really think about it, there is something missing from Darcy. I just don’t know what. That said, I like to believe in this love story.
Mathuri: I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago, and I feel like the first time I read it, I was swayed by the characters. I loved them, and wanted to believe in their love story (and still do!). When you’re looking at it critically, it does tend to lose some of its plausibility. I agree with Jess, I really wish we could have further insight into Darcy’s opinions. It’s hard to imagine why Darcy would fall in love with Elizabeth, especially to the point of him disregarding what he believes in (having a good family, etc.). While this story does lack a little plausibility, I think it’s also why I love this story. It’s all about how one can change overtime, and there’s so much more to someone’s story than that first impression.
As for Darcy’s aversion to lower classes, I do think that it was faster than expected (but it is a novel…love conquers all, right?). The class system is still a huge part around where I’m from, so to me, none of the class system is new. I do believe it was exaggerated in the book, especially with Catherine de Bourgh. However when it comes to marriage, it’s still somewhat a part of the culture and attitude towards marriage. My parents instinctively react to when they meet new people or hear of a new couple being engaged. While in Canada it’s a lot less important these days, it’s still ingrained in older generations. What I can say from personal experience is that if Catherine de Bourgh was someone’s aunt in real life, it would be a lot tougher to win her over than it was in the books. However I do think that Darcy was probably easier to be swayed once he acknowledged his love for Elizabeth.
Pride and Prejudice is a novel that many Austen fans read and reread. What keeps readers returning to the book once the suspense of whether or not Darcy and Elizabeth will end up together is taken away?
Jessica: It’s the love story. I don’t know how books really become classics, but this one is one of the foremost classic love stories. I think that it shows how love can change you. And doesn’t everyone want to be loved? The love that people want can come in many forms, of course, but I think that the ones who read stories like this one want that romantic love. The girls, I imagine, all want a man who would move mountains for them like Darcy did for Elizabeth. It just comes down to the love.
Mathuri: It most definitely is the love story. I consider myself not much of a romantic. I do like the occasional rom-com, but I’m not exactly a flowers kind of girl (I do welcome chocolate any day!). I love the changes that these characters go through, from Elizabeth hating Darcy in the beginning to realizing she was in love with him. For so many reasons (some unknown even), this book and its adaptations always make me a want to believe in true love, like no other story does.
What makes Mr. Darcy such a charismatic and charming character that leaves practically every girl drooling after finishing the book?
Jessica: I’ll be honest, Darcy isn’t actually too likeable at the beginning of the book. First impressions, right? We don’t get to see things from his perspective and know next to nothing about him. What we do know comes from other people who don’t have a high opinion of him.
I cannot speak for every girl out there, but I can say it is how Darcy is with family and friends that makes me like him. I don’t drool over him (or any guy), but I do like him. He really does care for his baby sister, his friends, and Elizabeth. He basically moved mountains for all of the people he cares for and I love that.
Mathuri: I don’t think I have much to add. I think many girls drool over Darcy because they want someone who would move mountains for them (who wouldn’t?). I think that one example of that would be saving Lydia and Wickham’s marriage. It saved the family that Darcy didn’t even like much, and it ended up helping a man that Darcy completely hated, solely because he wanted Elizabeth to be happy.
Next time on Austen Adventures: Mansfield Park (December 11th)
In the meantime, how would you answer these questions? Are you one of the countless women who drool over Mr. Darcy? What about the plausibility of the love story? Opinions on the sisters? We would love to hear your responses!
Follow us on Twitter!