Oh I love Pride and Prejudice! I haven’t read it since I was at Sixth Form about six years, so finally re-reading this novel was a lovely end of PGCE treat. This is a story I know so well, being a HUGE fan of the most recent film and having watched the BBC Colin Firth version fairly recently, but it amazes me how Austen’s writing seems so fresh and kept me interested throughout my reading – yes it’s a cliche, but I couldn’t put it down. I could quite easily bang on about how much I love this novel, but I am going to demonstrate some self control and discuss a handful of sections I highlighted during my reading. I have a few versions of this novel: book form, on the Kindle and a version starring me as Elizabeth Bennet, which was a brilliant and unusual birthday present from a friend, but I opted for the Kindle, as I hadn’t picked it up for a while.
Let’s begin with the frightful Mrs Bennet and the truly terrible Lydia, who just becomes more irritating as the novel progresses. Straight away Mrs Bennet puts Lizzy down, claiming she is not as ‘handsome as Jane, nor half so good humoured as Lydia.‘ and this is an attitude that continues throughout the novel, with Lydia hardly able to put a foot wrong, whereas Lizzy is an embarrassment to her mother; the irony is that our perceptions of Lizzy and Lydia are reversed. This in turn leads me to Lydia, who drives me up the wall. She is selfish, irritating and a nuisance! Her flirtatious manner and her complete lack of regard for her family very nearly leads to her sisters’ ruin, and the best part is that she doesn’t even acknowledge the impact her actions will have on those around her. Her smugness on her marriage is infuriatingly good; when Mrs Bennet asks her to write often, Lydia responds with:
‘As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do.’
This is just classic Lydia; the world revolves around her and her life is the most fabulous and exciting. However I do like an annoying, love to hate character in a novel, and Austen has created a perfect one in Lydia, who, despite the various social changes to her life during the course of the novel, appears to progress or develop very little as a character. She is the same shallow and selfish little girl throughout.
Another of my love to hate characters who made an appearance in my recent Top Ten Baddies post is Lady Catherine De Bourgh. I highlighted the funniest quote relating to her which sums her up perfectly in my mind.
‘The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine what weather they were to have on the morrow.’
Oh how I would love to have the power to determine the weather, and have people believe me…although in Britain it isn’t hard since there is always a high percent chance of rain!
I mentioned my love of the film version of Pride and Prejudice, it always makes me cry and moan about how I wished I lived then. I just had to share my favourite scene in the film (and one of the best parts of the novel); The Bennets’ reaction to Lizzy turning down Mr Collins’ proposal. Their differing reactions are hilarious, and just reinforce how different the Bennets are as a couple.
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Pride and Prejudice and this has just made me eager to begin re-reading all my Austen books, but alas they will have to wait. For the time being I am happy with my brief revisit to the romantic, beautiful and fabulous world of Jane Austen!