Is there a
sprightlier opening than the beginning lines of this time treasured novel? “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession
of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice is considered one of the most entertaining and romantic of stories, a
love story for the ages. Perhaps it is
much more, was Jane Austen also a feminist?
While Pride and Prejudice does tell the love stories of Jane and Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth and Mr.
Darcy, it is also the story of a family, the burdens of having daughters
instead of sons, and the options open to women of the era. The Bennett family has five daughters, the
family home and estate will pass on the death of the father to the next male
heir in line, a rather tiresome clergyman.
If the daughters have not found suitable husbands by that time, they
will be penniless and at the mercy of their distant relative, a precarious
financial position indeed. Austen knew
well of the world she creates in her stories.
She lived this life, endured uncertain financial times as an unmarried
woman, and lived by the generosity of her brothers. So while Pride and
Prejudice will certainly entertain us with the love
story of Darcy and Elizabeth, it will also grant a look at the realities of
life in the early 1800’s. As the saying
goes, we’ve come a long way baby.
— Deon Stonehouse
A classic of English literature, written with incisive wit and superb character delineation, it centers on the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, a rich aristocratic landowner.Pride and Prejudice was recently ranked 4th out of 100 on PBS's Great American Read.