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Pride and Prejudice
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jane Austen's romantic masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, is an absolute joy to read and study for teens who are open to the pleasures of 19th-century prose and manners. The plot and characters are engaging for teens, and the book is worth revisiting at any age. Several film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice are also well worth seeing, including the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightley and the superb 1995 BBC series featuring Colin Firth as Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. However, young people will get maximum enjoyment from this story if they read the novel first.
Pride and Prejudice - Book Review
A truly magnificent novel to enlighten the reader not just about the romance of the past, but of the life and values of the ones in the days of old. A novel that weaves through love, class, reputation, family values and integrity along with the other hundred more. A book set in the past but by no means stuck to the past. It houses many true lessons that anyone can learn from. Considered to be one of Jane Austen’s most prominent writes and definitely most notable for the ideas it portrays.
At its heart, Pride and Prejudice is central to the theme of love and overcoming the obstacles for love. It envelopes the story of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. As the title suggests, Elizabeth must overcome her prejudices and Mr Darcy his prideful nature. The Pride and The Prejudice aren’t the only obstacles they encounter but also the other characters. We have Mrs Bennett who wishes for Elizabeth to marry Mr Collins, who she finds extremely dull and aggravating to the least. We have Lady De Bourgh who will stop at nothing to prevent her family status from diminishing and therefore will try to prevent the esteemed Mr Darcy from marrying middle class Elizabeth. We also have Mr Wickham who paints Mr Darcy in a terrible light, nearly ending the two characters' love altogether.
Along with the love of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, we also have the love of Lydia, the youngest of the 5 sisters, with Mr Wickham, Mr Darcy’s enemy. Alongside that we have the love of Jane, Elizabeth’s only elder sister, who loves Mr Bingley, Mr Darcy’s best friend. We also have the love of the friends, of the family and of course, the quite unromantic love between Mr and Mrs Bennett.
That is maybe one of the most celebrated parts of the book. Its ability to bring to light the situations of other characters and give everyone their own story, without destroying the light on the two main characters. An extremely trying task that Jane Austen undertook with extreme ease. She further enhanced her hardships by connecting every single character which only increases the value of her writing.
Among the other many themes, there is one theme that I believe has had the most impact on the book surviving so long. It is, of course, its wonderful style however more specifically, its focus on women and their reputation. In the late 18th century and early 19th century women were playing their role as wives, as ladies of the house and of course they were extremely conscious of how they represented themselves to the world. These societal norms of women were followed by the women in the play and many considered it law and would therefore be at odds with those who did not adhere to it. Elizabeth is a headstrong character who does not and will not adhere to these rules. For example, she allows her dress to get muddy and is immediately looked upon in disgust when seen, she has a very sharp tongue that is looked upon as ungrateful and unbecoming. She also will only marry for the reason of real love. In a sense Jane Asuten has provided us with a bridge to the future, to our present. Elizabeth is a rebel in her time but a strong women who adheres to our social norm. With the growing participation of women in tasks that were previously held by men alone and their increased dependence on themselves to provide. With the gap between men and women decreasing, Elizabeth is what we would consider a feminist and therefore would be extremely liked within our society.
To understand why the book is written the way it is, we must begin to understand the life of the author and of the life of the world at that time. Jane Austen was born in 1775 on December the 16th in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Her lively and affectionate family circle provided a stimulating context for her writing however her experiences beyond Steventon were definitely somewhat shaping. Through these, she sometimes visited areas like Bath and London to which her stories are set, along with, like in this novel, the hometown being somewhat like her own. Love is of course, undeniably, the main theme and although Jane Austen was never married she was said to have loved and been disappointed however not enough sufficient evidence is found to make this a fact however considering her plot we can begin to imagine that she had, had past experiences. Jane Austen faced many struggles soon after, like her family retiring to Bath leading her to put up with many temporary lodgings. Soon after this her father died there in Bath. 4 years later she was able to go, with her remaining family, to stay with her brother. This last change instilled a purpose within her again and may be the only reason I am able to review this book today.
Looking more specifically at what could have influenced her when writing this particular novel we see a few things which I will touch upon. Of course we must recall the Napoleonic Wars which seemed to not have made way into this novel, however could possibly be the reason for producing a somewhat, formerly glorious, Mr Wickham through the army. Much like her brothers, who also joined the army against Napoleon. One other event, or I should say ‘one other time’, that looks to have had much influence was the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Here, we saw a shift from enlightenment to Romantic trends in art and letters as well as the beginning of whispers of Feminism. Both events can perhaps provide some context, however to delve deeper we must look at the life of each of these characters. Unfortunately I have had not the time to include it in this article, nay please come back in but a fortnight to read of the character’s and of the daily life in the Georgian Era.
I would say it has highly educational values and lines and if read properly will be both entertaining and highly educational. It is a perfect book however because of its HARDER to read language I have recommended it 12, however other children may read it earlier or later. Mine read it when they were 10.
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The five single Bennet girls of Longbourne have somewhat dubious prospects for marriage, because their father, though a gentleman, has no male heir and his estate is "entailed" away to his next male relation. So, Mrs. Bennet is extremely eager to find rich husbands for her daughters. When the Bennets become acquainted with a new neighbor, the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and his proud friend Mr. Darcy, first impressions lead to some hard feelings as well as romantic ones. Bingley becomes quickly attached to one of the girls, whereas Darcy leaves the Bennets and their friends cold. First impressions are not always what they seem, however, and the Bennet girls, particularly Elizabeth and Jane, learn where pride and trust are justified, and where they are not, as the romantic story unfolds.
Is It Any Good?
Austen gives you brave and good heroes and heroines, despicable villains, a decent dose of comic relief, a great and complex plot, and plenty of suspense of the mostly restrained, emotional variety. Austen's clever observations and dialogue contribute to her brilliance in developing fully formed characters, despite the polite manners throughout. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are two of the most romantic and memorable characters in the whole of English literature, and their story never fails to entertain.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about gender roles in Pride and Prejudice. What are Elizabeth and her sisters allowed to do or not do in terms of their occupations and social behavior? How is a young woman's life different from a young man's in the world of the novel?
One of the themes Austen explores at length in Pride and Prejudice and in other novels is the compatibility and feelings that make a happy marriage. In the context of the book, what marriages are successful and which are not? What does Austen see as requirements for happiness in married life?
Jane Austen's novels are often compared and contrasted with the Brontes' darker, more gothic romances. How are the novels by these female novelists different, and how are they similar?
Why is Pride and Prejudice considered a classic of English literature?