208 Years of Pride and Prejudice : a classic timeless novel
This year on 28 January, 2021 the classic timeless novel Pride and Prejudice novel by Jane Austen turns 208. The novel by Jane Austen was first originally published on 28 January, 1813. Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel that is set during the Regency Era in Great Britain. It deals with universal themes such as love, friendship, betrayal and struggle. Pride and Prejudice is a story about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy who after their first meeting are attracted and repelled by each other equally. Elizabeth’s first poor impression of Mr. Darcy is that he is arrogant and proud. Mr. Darcy initially looked down on Elizabeth because of her social class. But after overcoming multiple obstacles they fall in love with each other.
Jane Austen herself has called her fascinating work , “her darling child” and its charming heroine Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The novel Pride and Prejudice has enchanted readers all around the world in every language. The novel starts with an iconic first line, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ This opening line which is one of the best known lines in literature is concise, memorable and it perfectly sets up the story that unfolds in the novel of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is not just a love story but is also about the lack of female rights and gender politics. It is a satire on the society of 18th century and early 19th century.
Through her humour and with and use of irony Austen writes about social class and restrictions on women and men too. Pride and Prejudice’s dialogues are extremely witty. The drama in this book is subtle and character driven. The vivid exchanges between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are so heated that they create an intense yet intimate dramatic setting. Pride and Prejudice is a love story at heart but the deepest bond in this story is of the five Bennet sisters; Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine (Kitty) and Lydia. Jane Austen had originally titled the book, ‘First Impressions’.
Though the title would have been less catchy, it communicates Austen’s message perfectly, that is first impressions can often be wrong. For example, in the novel Mr. Darcy’s little sister Georgina Darcy is often mistaken for being proud when she is simply shy. The best part of Pride and Prejudice is that ultimately it is a happy ever after tale. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen starts by showing the readers that opposite repel and then attract. Mr. Darcy is gloomy and arrogant. Elizabeth Bennet is lively and charming. He is rich and she is poor. He is madly in love and she can’t stand him. Elizabeth crushes Mr. Darcy’s pride when she rejects his first proposal and to win her back Mr. Darcy is forced to change and become more kind and polite. Elizabeth changes too from her prejudice through her journey.
Pride and Prejudice has inspired many adaptations for both films and television. In 1995 BBC released Pride and Prejudice miniseries starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. The two shared a wonderful chemistry together and Colin Firth proved that he is the ultimate Mr. Darcy. The 1995 BBC miniseries is considered to be the number one adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as it stayed faithful to the story. 2005 film adaptation of the book is incredible. It stars Keira Knightley and Mathew Macfayden as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
The film took some liberties with the story and dialogues but it is still a beautiful piece of art that portrayed the tension and chemistry between both the lead characters in an enthralling way. The cinematography of the movie is stunning. The final scene of the movie has Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy sitting together and discussing how he should address her, and she tells him to only address her as ‘Mrs. Darcy’ and he is ‘incandescently happy’ after hearing. This small moment between them is so intimate and beautiful that it tears up the audience every time. There are many numerous film adaptations of the novel. There is even a zombie parody of the book titles, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which stars Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet and Simon Riley as Mr. Darcy.
Pride and Prejudice is timeless because Jane Austen is an incredible writer. Her storytelling is amazing and she fills her story with lively characters along with funny, heartbreaking and excruciating moments that stay with the readers forever in their memories.