I suppose I’m a bit of a Janeite: I visited her gravesite in Winchester while touring there, have read all her novels (both completed and unfinished), and even took an extra senior seminar to study her work in more depth while in college. Still, P&P is not my favorite of Jane Austen’s works, so why start our readalong with this novel? BECAUSE I AM COMPLETELY OBSESSED with it since I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Sadly, the vlog series is now completed, but I adore how Hank Green and the fabulous cast managed to make this 200 year old story fresh and new again.
Is it wrong that I will forever picture this t-shirt and this face whenever I read the famous opening line of Pride and Prejudice from now on? Also, I want her hair. And probably also her eyebrows.
Anyway…let’s get back to discussing the first ten chapters of the novel, shall we?
I love all the ways that Austen makes the Bennet women (minus Jane and Lizzy, of course) seem insipid and Darcy and the lady Bingleys seem pretentious. It’s all so very subtle but also important for creating the later drama. Still, I always feel a bit bad for Mary, and even Kitty, during this part. Lizzy, Jane, Mrs. B and even Lydia get personalities, while the other two seem so dull. (Ha, I can totally see why the webshow cut them, but I digress…again).
I also like how, even this early on in section one, Lizzy (who clearly has a fairly unfavorable impression of Darcy following his comments about her and the Longbourn/Meryton townspeople at the ball) defends him against her mother’s insults. I mean, why do that? It seems like a little too much effort just to irk the Mama. Methinks the evidence suggests she likes him even now…
However, I do get annoyed with the whole Jane-is-sick-and-unable-to-go-home subplot. I know this is essential for getting Jane to spend time with Bingley and his family and build their romance and yet I cannot help but feel this part is a little forced. I remember thinking (the first time I read this) that Jane must be taking a page from her mother’s book and faking her illness to prolong the stay. After all, who gets that sick from a “cold”? SHE MUST BE FAKING. Except she is Jane, so we know she is not, but I still don’t buy it. Even in the early 1800s (or…whenever. BTW, when the hell is this book actually set anyway?), that level of cold simply from riding a horse in the rain seems ridiculous! (Also, does anyone else find it interesting that the author named her meekest, most lovable, and incredibly long-suffering heroine after herself???)
I also always wonder where the Bingley parents are. Are they deceased? I know that these folks are all adults, and Bingley is a guy and in charge of his own fortune so technically he needs no guidance from his parents, but how come they aren’t around to have an opinion on who their son marries/shares his fortune with? Is this why he needs Darcy? Ewww. But actually, the Darcy-as-surrogate-parent thread seems to be woven pretty heavily throughout this novel. Hmmm.
I’m off to section two when the Bennet sisters head home and the story starts to progress in more logical ways…even though I don’t technically have to read this part until next weekend!
P.S. I just LOVE Mr. Bennet. After Elizabeth, he’s surely my favorite character. I adore how calm and clever and even playful he manages to remain in a house full of SIX women! (Oh, CORRECTION. I love every Mr. B except the Donald Sutherland one. He was skeevy and would make a better Haymitch Abernathy than father to Lizzy Bennet!)