By Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen’s arguably most famous book Pride and Prejudice opens with this revealing but fairly true statement. Published in the early nineteenth century, it is the story of a young woman whose ideas and expectations from life and romance mature over the course of the book.
Elizabeth Bennet along with her parents and four sisters lives in the English countryside. The otherwise quiet life is stirred with excitement when a young, wealthy gentleman leases accommodation near the village and brings with him his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters. What ensues is a tale of romance, heartbreak, misunderstandings, hurt pride, prejudices, and a happily ever after, of course!
I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine
The narration is filled with witty repartee, musings, and some laughable moments (A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment). There are passages in the book which make you pause and think about life like,
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.
There are certain statements which one couldn’t help but agree with in today’s day and age as well. Angry people are not always wise and we are all fools in love are two of the many such nuggets.
The book provides glimpses into the lives, social propriety, and laws that prevailed in that era. The theme of the story revolves around upbringing and environment; and importance of marriage for women and the lack of options after a certain age. It also highlights inheritance laws (how they favoured the male relatives over the women in the family), propriety, morality, and social status and wealth.
This much loved book has been adapted across various platforms – movies, TV miniseries, web series, and theatre. It has also inspired many indirect adaptations in literature.
If one can get over the ‘verbose’ style of writing, Pride and Prejudice is more than just a love story which gives an insight into life in the nineteenth century. If you are looking for something different, why not go old school this Valentine’s Day?