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
Jane Austen is one of the founders of classic novels for women, first publishing Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Pride and Prejudice is rightfully considered to be the masterpiece of the world literature, leaving readers mesmerized by the love story of Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth for over 200 years. Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars.