Ah, Jane Austen. Every time I finish one of her books, I think, Yeah, this one is definitely my favorite. This is obviously untrue, since I’ve read all six major novels and they can’t all be my favorite, but I did experience that moment again when I finished Pride and Prejudice—for the third or fourth time—this past weekend.
It had been a while since the last time I had read Pride and Prejudice, and since having read all of her other novels, I had become a bit jaded about her most famous one; I thought Pride and Prejudice had been completely overrated and couldn’t understand why exactly everyone chose that one to make a big deal over, when all of her six major novels were as good and some were better (in my opinion). However, after finally reading Pride and Prejudice again, I have come to a different conclusion: Pride and Prejudice is not overrated; all of her other novels are underrated. Pride and Prejudice is awesome, and I love it just as much as I did the first time I read it.
We all know the story: boy meets girl, boy disses girl (because of his prejudices), girl hates boy (because he injured her pride), boy falls in love with girl, girl rejects him but then (OMG!) realizes she’s in love with boy but doesn’t think he still loves her back. But then he does still love her, and happy endings abound for everyone who deserves them.
Okay, sorry if that summary was a bit facetious, but that’s basically the main plotline. There are others, of course, and one of Jane Austen’s best qualities as a writer is her ability to make all of her plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots connect remarkably well. I love how there are so many things that appear unconnected at first but as you read you find out they actually are connected to each other.
I think she also creates some of her best characters in Pride and Prejudice: the obsequious, simpering Mr. Collins; the sarcastic and yet lovable Mr. Bennet; headstrong, imperfect Elizabeth; and, of course, the cold-and-distant-but-actually-a-really-really-good-guy-once-you-know-him Mr. Darcy. (Side note on Mr. Darcy: before I read Pride and Prejudice again, when I was still in my jaded “it’s overrated” stage, I would scoff and feel smugly superior when people said Mr. Darcy was their favorite male protagonist, and think, Psh, I guess they’ve never read anything else by Jane Austen. But I do have to say, even though he still isn’t my absolute favorite, rereading has definitely put him very close to the top of the list. Ah, Mr. Darcy.) Also, when I get married, I want us to be like the Gardiners, because they’re awesome. Mrs. Gardiner is so sweet and attentive to Elizabeth, and Mr. Gardiner is just a really good guy. Yay, nice characters.
I believe I’ve mentioned this previously, but Pride and Prejudice will always hold a special place in my heart: it was the first book I’d ever read for school that I truly enjoyed and didn’t just tolerate. We had to read it over the summer before my senior year of high school, and my friends and I all really enjoyed it—being romantic sixteen- and seventeen-year-old girls, how could we not? I was so proud of myself for actually enjoying a piece of literature that I think I might have blown my love of Pride and Prejudice just a little out of proportion, but upon second, third, and fourth readings I have to say it deserves all the love that is lavished on it.
So yes, my love for Pride and Prejudice has been rekindled, though perhaps not to the level of what it was in high school. After having read all six major novels, it was nice not only to get back to the root of my love for Jane Austen, but to read something where all the characters, instead of ending mostly happily even when they didn’t necessarily deserve it, got what they actually deserved. Or at least, some of them did. I personally rather enjoyed that two of the more annoying characters don’t have the happy endings that other annoying characters in other novels get.
To sum up, I am no longer of the opinion that Pride and Prejudice is overrated. I’m so glad I read it again and realized that I really do love it almost as much as I did when I was sixteen (accounting, of course, for the fact that I was proud of myself for actually enjoying literature). If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you should. But you should also read the rest of Jane Austen as well.