Love Stories Part 1: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy

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When I think of love stories, Jane Austen comes to mind. Her novels have given me hours of joy where I am lost in Regency England among the lives and romance of her characters. I have laughed, growled in frustration at misunderstandings between characters and have cried with delight when arriving at the end…and then mourn that the story is over. I set the novel aside with a great sigh befitting a lovelorn heroine and return again when once more it calls to me, luring me into a  jaunt to the past…

Pride and Prejudice (1813)

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of  a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

And so opens a novel about morals, relationships, family, love and society. It centers around Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter of five blessed to the Bennet family. Elizabeth is my favorite character in I think all of Jane Austen’s novels. She is independent, clever, slightly sarcastic and cares deeply about her family. Instead of being insulted by Mr. Darcy’s disdainful dismissal of her as a dance partner, Elizabeth laughs at his snobbery. It isn’t an auspicious meeting between the two, neither impressed with the other but I think it would have been a different sort of story altogether if there had been fireworks and eyes meeting across a crowded room. What’s a good love story without some conflict?

After Jane became ill and is forced to stay at the neighboring Netherfield, Elizabeth walks the distance to nurse her sister. She arrives with her hem and shoes covered in thick mud, without a care about her appearance. And to Mr. Darcy, her willingness to travel by foot the miles between Netherfield and her home shows only Elizabeth’s best qualities.

I don’t want to spoil the novel for those of you who haven’t read it, so I’ll forgo delving into details but the developing relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is one that is battered against obstacle after obstacle. There are family obligations and drama (on both sides) which crop up, misunderstandings, societal class and lies all conspire against the spark of romance between the two. It isn’t until the end that issues are resolved and feelings realized.

I highly recommend reading this novel, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction or history in general. Published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice displays the social norms and rituals, culture and expectations of Regency England. Plus there are several very good movies based on the novel. My favorite screen adaptation is the BBC movie starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. The one referred to in Bridget Jones’ Diary. Interestingly, Helen Fielding has said that Bridget’s story is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

And just for fun, I’ve decided to end this post with a clip from one of my favorite television series (Red Dwarf) that touches on the likely lasting impact of Pride and Prejudice. It’s also really funny. Enjoy. :)

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12 responses »

  1. Aah! I love Jane Austen! Though Pride and Prejudice is my second favorite (Persuasion makes me cry me every single time), it’s just so perfectly done and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy couldn’t have been more flawed or more perfectly done. I love the relationships between the sisters and the friendships depicted. I almost feel like I’ve been transported back to Regency England. Austen is definitely my preferred romance author =) Thanks for writing about this!

    • Me too! I know, the whole Bennet family dynamic is very well written and I always loved the many relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Persuasion makes me cry too, it’s my second favorite Jane Austen novel. And thank you, I am very happy you enjoyed this post. 🙂

  2. Excellent synopsis of the famous novel, Melissa! I always loved Jane Austen’s novels and the way we can still relate to her wry wit these days when we read her work. I haven’t read any of her novels in a good while, but this post makes me think I need to revisit them.

    • Thank you, Miranda! I agree a hundred percent, it is a testament to her talent that her novels are still read and enjoyed! Lol, I’m thinking about doing that too. Writing this post has made me want to read her novels again. 🙂

  3. It seems every winter I develop an Austen thirst that’s desperate to be quenched. Occasionally, I have to venture further out and find some truly entertaining works on the periphery. Have you seen Lost in Austen? That was an absolute delight.
    Lovely post, Melissa. Now I’m on the hunt …

    • Me too! I’ve come across some very good Austen inspired works. One was a unique sort of choose-your-own-adventure type using the characters from Pride and Prejudice, however I have forgotten the title and the author. I haven’t seen Lost in Austen and I will definitely add it to my must-see list! Thanks, Shelley! 😀

  4. Ahh, a kindered spirit. I love Pride and Predjudice almost as much as I love Jane Eyre. My favorite part of P&P is when Elizabeth and Darcy have their awkward conversation during the dance- they shoot veiled insults back and forth for awhile until Elizabeth says with much sarcasm.
    “We are each of an unsocial, taciturn, disposition, each of us unwilling to speak unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”
    Jane Austen’s dialogue sizzles. I’ve read book many times and will read and watch all versions of the movie many times in the future.
    Thanks for the follow..

    • I have yet to read Jane Eyre, it’s on my to-read list, though. That is just one of the many things I love about Jane Austen’s novels, the dialogue. Lol, me too. I’m always very excited to come across anything Jane Austen related. You welcome and thank you for the follow too. 🙂

  5. I love that clip, it’s so great! And I’ve also read about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy but never really took the plunge to reading Pride and Prejudice. Although, there is a zombie version of it! Ha, but perhaps I’ll try the Jane Austen version first!

    • Thank you! It’s from one of my favorite episodes of Red Dwarf. Lol, I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies yet but it combines two things I love Jane Austen and zombies, so I’ll give it a try. 🙂

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