Rosie Moniz, online ESL teacher at Acadsoc
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After seeing the comment from teacher Riza, I decided to do a review of this classical work from Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice. As I know, many of my fellas, as online English teachers pretty love such stories, romantic but educational.
Patriarchy. The sad reality of women throughout the ages. We live in a world where most women could have never been able to talk back to a man, let alone do more than what was expected of them – to be a pretty face and bear children, while raising three others, making sure that there is a meal on the table every single night. I don’t know about you but somehow that sounds like way more than what any man could have been able to handle. It would be praised if patriarchy was adopted to lighten the load for women, but instead, it gave women a load too big to bear while preventing them from being the best that they could be. The story surrounding the author is such an example. Jane Austin’s book, Pride and Prejudice was first published around the year 1813, some sixteen years later than she finished writing the book. For Jane, she was an author when all that was expected of her was to help women clean homes, cook dinners and wash clothes – how can we forget the duty to look pretty to attract a man that will take care of her? The funny part is that Jane Austin’s father first tried to publish the story around 1797 with the title ‘First Impressions’, but it was rejected – mainly because the author of the book was female. Even when Pride and Prejudice were finally published in 1813, Austen’s name did not appear as the author of the book, and in fact, Austen was never given credit for being the author of any of her works while she was alive. The title page of Pride and Prejudice, when published, read “by the author of Sense and Sensibility.”
The arrival of a wealthy young gentleman named Charles Bingley causes a stir in the Netherfield Park neighbourhood with all the young women and their families –, especially in the Bennet household. Why this household in particular? Well, the Bennet household is made up of five daughters, all unmarried, and at this point in time, they need to marry, for financial reasons of course. In addition to all of that, there exists many prejudicial rules and expectations throughout the story – like how even a man’s property was entailed – meaning that despite him having only daughters as his children, he could only leave his estate to a male heir upon his death. This story challenges these prejudices and maybe through the author’s own experiences, we are able to peak through the windows of her insecurities-turned-values. The most important characters in the book are:
Elizabeth Bennet: She is the novel’s protagonist and the second daughter of the Bennett parents. She is smart and very sensible but sometimes her mouth can put her in unfavourable positions.
Fitzwilliam Darcy: A man emanating from wealth. He talks wealth and lives wealth. Beyond that, however, he has characteristics that catch Elizabeth Bennet’s heart.
Jane Bennet: The typical older sister – setting the tone of beauty and calm. She is the direct opposite of Elizabeth when it comes to characteristics. She is very calm and how she captures Charles’ heart is in the direct opposite way that Elizabeth catches Fitz’s heart.
Charles Bingley: He is Fitz’s best friend. His purchase of an estate (Netherfield) is the impetus of Pride and Prejudice. Like Jane, his demeanour is the direct contrast of Fitz.
Mr and Mrs Bingley: Parents to the five unmarried daughters, one is the textbook patriarch and the other, a thorn in the sides of the daughters. Her intention is to see them all married and somehow Bennett always dismisses her efforts to do so.
- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
This is the first quote in the book and may very well be in many top ten for any literature professor. The quote emphasizes that it is the accepted notion in the world that any successful man needs a wife – be it to cook or clean or to bear him children. It sets the tone for the book and takes a deeper look into the image of a ‘single man with good fortune’.
- Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, “You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.
Occurring in chapter fifty-eight, Fitz’s proposal can be viewed as the climax of the story, where a man portrays his heart’s desired, and by virtue of time and patience, the woman agrees. As a well-spoken character in the novel, Elizabeth’s acceptance is somewhat muffled and this has been a style that Jane Austin uses when it comes to proposals.
- “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
These words by Jane Austin provide an in-depth look into the woman’s mind. A woman decides quickly if she would ever marry you. Although that puts pressure on the man, it is informative enough to shed light on why and how women fall so quickly.
In its entirety, the book is not your average romance novel. It details so many real-world issues that still affect women today and that may be the beauty in Jane Austin’s work. This book details love and how it develops over time through patience and chance. If we are, to be honest with ourselves, there are many single men who are of good fortune or perceived success, who are not looking for a wife – any man is looking for a wife but that is something that develops over time. The book teaches us that we need to be patient in all that we do – we can’t let people decide that for us. This is a highly recommended book due to its relevance even today. It can definitely be adopted in various schools throughout the world including online companies such as Acadsoc.
The book is a wonderful look into the eyes of a woman who suffered through prejudice in her own life. Many societies still rely heavily on patriarchy to maintain ‘order’ – and for whatever reason, the world deals with this through a blind-eye. Let it not be taken lightly however that we all have challenges, but marriage is a challenge affecting both men and women currently – so it goes without saying that men have a lot to learn through reading this book.
The mere story of the author is a book on its own where we all could learn a few things, one of which is to not allow yourself to be a victim of circumstance. Her book, Pride, and Prejudice forces us to look within ourselves and look beyond romance and love.