Pride and Prejudice ,a novel written by Jane Austen is my favourite book. It was written in the year 1813 by Jane Austen, when she was twenty years old. This two hundred year old novel is very close to my heart. I read somewhere that it is one of the largest selling novels.Even after a lapse of two hundred years its popularity has not waned. The theme of the novel mainly revolves round women, their strength and weaknesses; longings and disappointments and their inner tusstles and determinations. In some way or the other it relates to the women of India, who have similar concerns. The women aim to marry off their daughters, like Mrs. Bennet, who is the mother of five daughters , all eligible for marriage.
The opening lines of the story "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" gives the reader a sort of impression about the story line and what to expect in the pages that follow. Indirectly this one sentence conveys to the reader that it is a story of girls searching for husbands and men in pursuit of a wife.The novel centres round Mr. Bennet, his wife,Mrs.Bennet, a woman who is lacking in social graces, her only concern being marriage of her five daughters.The youngest, Lydia, mostly takes after Mrs. Bennet. She is a bubbly and has great hopes of getting married to a rich man. The eldest, Jane, is kind-hearted and soft spoken. She is shown as a weak character, who relies on the judgement of her sister, Elizabeth, who is the proganist of the novel. Elizabeth is the second-eldest daughter of the Bennets and mostly takes after her father, sharing his keen wit and occasionally sarcastic outlook.
Generally the reader finds the conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet very amusing. As a sample relish the talk between them, when a rich Mr. Bingley shifts in their neighbourhood. `My dear Mr. Bennet,'' said his lady to him one day, ``have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?''
``But it is,'' returned she; ``for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.''
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
``"Do not you want to know who has taken it?'' cried his wife impatiently.
``"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.''
This was invitation enough.
``"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise...." and went on blah,blah,blah.
Her sole aim was that the rich Mr. Bingley should marry one of their daughters and hence wants her husband to pay a visit to Netherfields and seek friendship with Mr. Bingley.
Does it not sound like a dialogue from a Hindi movie or a dialogue from an ordinary Indian household?
The second daughter of the Bennets, Elizabeth is intelligent, sharp and witty but has a tendency to judge people on the basis of her first impression. She meets Mr.Darcy, an aristocrat at a Ball hosted by his friend, Bingley . At first sight she forms an opinion against Mr. Darcy. We find the unfolding of the plot and the other characters mostly from her viewpoint. In the figure of Elizabeth, Austen shows passion attempting to find a valid mode of existence in society. Passion and reason come together in the novel, to show that they are complementary to each other in a successful marriage. Her closest relationships are with her father; her sister, Jane; her aunt, Mrs Gardiner; and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. As the story progresses, so does her relationship with Mr. Darcy, who belongs to a higher social class . The course of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's relationship is ultimately decided when he overcomes his pride, and Elizabeth overcomes her prejudice.
In the marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth Austen lays down realities which lead a couple to live happily ever after, in a bond of a successful marriage. One of these characteristics is that the feeling cannot be brought on by appearances, and must gradually develop between the two people as they get to know one another. In the beginning, Elizabeth and Darcy were distant from each other because of their prejudice. The series of events which they both experienced gave them the opportunity to understand one another and the time to reconcile their feelings for each other. Thus, their mutual understanding is the foundation of their relationship which resulted in a happy married life.. The success of Elizabeth and Darcy's , marriage, according to Jane Austen is due to the reason that the couple understood each other before getting married. Here Austen sticks to the beliefs prevalent in the 18th century British society.
The novel begins with a Ball party hosted by Mr. Bingley. Here Mr. Bingley gives special attention to Jane, which she reciprocates.She confesses her love for Bingley to Elizabeth. To the utter delight of Mrs. Bennet they marry.It is in this party Darcy slights Elizabeth who forms an opinion against him. It is their mutual Pride and Prejudice,which forms the theme of this popular story.In one of their meetings Elizabeth tells Mr. Darcy that his problem is a "propensity to hate every body" to which he retorts that she "wilfully misunderstands" the same people !!
Lydia , the youngest daughter of the Bennets is very proud of her good looks. She is the pet of her mother. She elopes with Mr. Wickham,who does not marry her. On Mr. Darcy's insistence and extracting a handsome amount of money(dowry), he agrees to the marriage. The two other daughters of Bennets, Katherine and Mary do not have any role in the development of the story.
The story line progresses more through dialogues rather than descriptions.I am quoting two dialogues from the novel .The following words were spoken by Elizabeth to Mr Darcy after her prejudice against him had cleared:
“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and 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 next dialogue is Mr. Darcy's confession of his upbringing., which made him selfish and arrogant and his change of heart and thoughts influenced by Elizabeth's proximity:
“I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.”
The novel ends with a happy note.
Book cover ; courtesy google