Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a classic story and classic stories are usually considered somewhat uncontemporary and rather difficult to approach for modern readers. However, such generalizations might be misleading since Pride and Prejudice can be a delightful experience for any readers. Here are a few reasons why Pride and Prejudice should be the unconventional classic that is enjoyable for everyone.
Austen’s witty and intelligent writing is full of irony, wicked humor and mockery. The story is regarded as a love story while being so unromantic. There would be no Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet kind-of-love in Austen’s page because the match between characters are so often emphasized on money. The economic capacity would make one either attractive or unattractive before the consideration of their characters, so before any incident of love at first sight, people carry around their own price tag while browsing around those of others. Love in her feminine view is a cynical matter rather than an emotional driven one.
Her characters are either so adorably detestable or so wickedly charming, and there is no in between. Everyone would easily fall in love with Elizabeth, our heroin, for her charm, quick-wit and intelligence, just to realize that her view and thoughts are so severely directed by her prejudice. Hence, everything seen through her eyes and filtered through her mind is, though pleasantly, distorted. In a way, by making Elizabeth Bennet so lovable, Austen also mocks her readers too for being so enamored with the charming heroine.
However, the story is still so personal, and its scope so confined to the circle of characters, that by the end of the story, readers feel like they knew all of the characters personally, and though we do not walk, talk and dance like those from 19th century Victorian England, we are all prone to those character’s failings, such as pride or prejudices. We cannot help but feel deeply attached to the story and its seemingly trivial love stories because we are also guilty of such weaknesses in the characters.
Austen’s love story is the archetype for modern love stories that we are exposed through various media channels. It is both a Cinderella story, where the main loveable character is saved from poverty by the rich prince charming, and it is also the exemplary case of the ironic love between two opposite persons who are bound to loathe each other at the very beginning. There has to be a reason why opposite characters attract each other like magnets and Jane Austen has chosen her opposite dynamic so well as they have every reason to hate each other. Austen chooses pride and prejudice and makes a battlefield full of shame and humor out of them, just to reunite them in the end with the most romantic proposal of marriage.
The last reason to enjoy this classic would be that Pride and Prejudice has the most romantic proposal of love, regardless of what is said above about the story being concerned about money. Considering that our hero, Mr Darcy, is so preoccupied by his pride, his violent love for Lizzy and the refusal of his first proposal has properly humbled him. Although it is still cynical, Austen still lets love conquer all, and in her case, it conquers the greatest fault of her characters, sets them right and makes their mind mature to the point where they deserve their wonderful marriages and happy ever afters.
Pride and Prejudice is like Austen’s personal letter to love, to her characters, and to the readers, as it is intimate as it is humorously mean. For those who read this novel, it is like sharing all the badmouthing with one of the best authors in English literature, and there should not be anything more inviting than that invitation Pride and Prejudice dispatches.