Pride and Prejudice: My First Jane Austen

Reading classics has been a longtime goal of mine, but I keep putting it off because there are other, more fun books to read. (I have read a few classics, like The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, most of which I’ve enjoyed.) Quarantined life, though, has shifted my attention to items on the bottom of my to-do list, perhaps because I’ve now got the time or my top priorities are simply undoable at home.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was surprisingly exciting and fast-paced right from Chapter 1. At first I had difficulty forming my own opinion because I thought it must be unfair to judge a time I wasn’t familiar with; the norm for sure was different back in 1813 (when it was published). But soon enough I couldn’t help but feel upset about the behaviors and ways of thinking of most of the characters. I had to tell myself to just accept everything and treat classics as a lesson on history and to read more books set in the early 1800s to form a solid opinion.

But as I pondered on what ticked me off—parental favoritism, gossipy neighbors, men who interpret women’s “no” as “yes,” marrying solely for money and good connections, pressuring women to marry at a certain age lest they become old maids, rivalry among families for want of a better social standing, etc.—I realized that this is in fact how people behave at present. There may be slight changes (in the book Jane was told she “will be quite an old maid soon” for being unmarried at almost twenty-three; now, the age women get pressured to marry has moved up to probably thirty—believe me, I feel the pressure), but on the whole things are still the same. I don’t know whether to rejoice that the book is relatable or to be sad and frustrated that society is facing the same issues even now. But I guess this is why this book’s a classic: it’s still relevant and important.

My main takeaway, though, is never to judge anyone by first impression. How many times have we been introduced to someone we dislike and end up becoming fond of them, and vice versa? Also, one’s perspective is just one perspective. In the beginning, Mr. Darcy was perceived as arrogant, but toward the end the other characters’ opinion of him (including mine) has changed for the better. The lesson here is to give everyone a chance and be open to different perspectives. I also saw the importance of verbalizing your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself as “it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded.” I value Mr. Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s honesty in professing their love; if not for that, they would have lost their chance of happiness.

“The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”

This was my first Jane Austen and my first time to read a novel set during the regency era. I did a little research and found that this era was from 1811 to 1820 in the United Kingdom. This book falls under the genre “classic regency fiction,” which is fiction actually written during the regency era, as opposed to “modern regency fiction,” where the story is set during the regency era but is written after. Overall Pride and Prejudice was a lovely reading—and learning—experience. I would love to continue to read classics and especially learn more about this fascinating period of balls, social graces, letter writing and leisurely walks in the park. (Also, I am in love with Mr. Darcy.)

Published by Sunny Day Reads

I’m Macy. This space is for my love of books and sharing what I learn with you!

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