Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I was forced to read this book. I’ll admit it, so perhaps that has something to do with how I felt about the book. However, there was a certain excitement to read this book, which is so often atop the numerous ‘best books’ or ‘books you have to read’ lists. I was interested in what was going to await me, in the many, many pages of this true classic. I had never watched any of the many TV or movie adaptations of the book, and I only had vague knowledge of Mr Darcy being ‘desirable’ and Elizabeth Bennett ending up falling in love with him. Apart from that, all I really knew was that the book was set in the late 1700s, so it was going to take some getting used to, in terms of the differences in style and lifestyle. So as I began, I quickly found that this book, was not going to be to my liking.

Now it might be a dangerous thing to do, to criticise this widely loved book, but, I’m entitled to do so. Because, it was my opinion of the book. I may not have insightful critiques on any literary failings of the book, and anything I will say, will undoubtedly have no impact on a fan’s love of the book, but I want to share what I thought about it.

To me (and many others who were also forced to read it for this class – yes the majority were male, but not all females enjoyed it) it was boring and dull. Okay, I think it shows that I actually quite like action in a book, and compared to something like Hunger Games, I’m not going to be enthralled in PP. The only action in the whole book that actually made things interesting was Lydia disappearing and eloping with Mr Wickham. That was probably the only moment where I was slightly interested.

It’s not to say that I don’t like lots of dialogue, and lots of character development and imagery. I do, I really do, these things are awesome. But I guess it’s what these things are used for which determines whether I’m interested. I couldn’t stand the endless discussions about marriage, men, money, carriages, card games, and all these little inanities. I presume they had little else to discuss in those times. I disliked almost every single character. Mr Collins, Mrs Bennett, Miss Bingley and Lady Catherine, are probably self evident, since they are universally annoying characters. And Mrs Bennett’s constantly changing opinion was infuriating. One moment she loved Mr Darcy, the next hated him, and she did this with every male character! The only character I slightly liked was Mr Bennett, for his sense of humour and sarcasm, and even then I thought he was still a terrible father. And the letters, Mr Darcy’s went on for several pages, and there wasn’t even a paragraph to break it up! Faced with that, where I knew it’d be rather dry subject matter, interwoven with his pompous and proud manner, was quite daunting.

And quite frankly I disliked Mr Darcy a lot. Yeah he was proud, and Elizabeth changed him. But ugh, his pride does not excused his terrible behaviour when he first arrived. Like come on, you can be proud without having to be a dick. Honestly, I don’t care what he did after that to try to redeem himself, but, I couldn’t like him. Then he has his marriage proposal and all the rest, and still he’s infuriating. I guess that’s what he is supposed to be, and then eventually he develops and comes to terms with his pride, and becomes better and a nice man. Sorry, don’t care.

I would also almost say that it felt a little too predictable, but of course I probably had a few subconscious inklings of what was going to happen from the various allusions in popular culture, as well as it was probably the source of a number of ‘cliques and tropes’. Like come on, it’s not that hard to tell that Elizabeth and Darcy hating each other will quickly turn into them loving one another. Maybe I’m not a romantic, cause their tales certainly bored me.

I agree that Austen’s satire of her culture is evident, and makes it somewhat interesting. Her criticisms of the world she lived in are quite valid, and things I agree with. But they’re not enough for me to actually enjoy or like the book. I really just did not enjoy it. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, or shouldn’t be widely loved. I can see the appeal to some people, but for me, and I’m sure many others, it’s not interesting. And I guess there’s a point, where, good literature still needs to be enjoyable. Yes some people enjoy it, but to me, the book is never going to have an impact on me, unless I enjoy it, or am captivated by it. Do I regret reading it? No. And my answer for these sorts of things is always going to be the same, did I regret reading The Great Gatsby, no, I didn’t like that either, but it was still a worthwhile experience. I can say I’ve read it, I know what goes on, but I don’t like it. Would I read it again? Once again, my answer will probably be the same, right now, definitely not, but in 20 years time, who knows, maybe I’ll reread it and I’ll be in the right mindset to read and enjoy it. But until then, it’s not something I want to repeat.

So, what’s your opinion on Pride and Prejudice, a work of art, or a piece of garbage? Has your opinion on it (or other classics) changed over time?

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5 thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  1. A few months ago Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory read the book because his girlfriend ruined one of his favorite movies for him by pointing out a plothole so he wanted to get back at her by ruining one of her favorite books, but as he went through it trying to critique it, he admitted in dismay that it was “a flawless masterpiece”. So it was rather funny that I saw this post so shortly afterward.

    I have enjoyed most of the books I’ve been required to read over the years, so I don’t think you should blame it on that. No book really is “a flawless masterpiece”.

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