Pride & Prejudice
By Jane Austen
First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has consistently been Jane Austen's most popular novel.
It portrays life in the genteel rural society of the day, and tells of the initial misunderstandings and later mutual enlightenment between Elizabeth Bennet (whose liveliness and quick wit have often attracted readers) and the haughty Darcy. The title Pride and Prejudice refers (among other things) to the ways in which Elizabeth and Darcy first view each other. The original version of the novel was written in 1796-1797 under the title First Impressions, and was probably in the form of an exchange of letters. Jane Austen wrote in a letter about Elizabeth, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know". First Impressions was actually the first of Jane Austen's works to be offered to a publisher, in 1797 by her father, but the publisher turned it down without even looking at the manuscript.
Story in brief
The news that a wealthy young gentleman named Charles Bingley has rented the manor of Netherfield Park causes a great stir in the nearby village of Longbourn, especially in the Bennet household. The Bennets have five unmarried daughtersfrom oldest to youngest, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia -and Mrs. Bennet is desperate to see them all married. After Mr. Bennet pays a social visit to Mr. Bingley, the Bennets attend a ball at which Mr. Bingley is present. He is taken with Jane and spends much of the evening dancing with her. His close friend, Mr. Darcy, is less pleased with the evening and haughtily refuses to dance with Elizabeth, which makes everyone view him as arrogant and obnoxious.
At social functions over subsequent weeks, however, Mr. Darcy finds himself increasingly attracted to Elizabeth's charm and intelligence. Jane's friendship with Mr. Bingley also continues to burgeon, and Jane pays a visit to the Bingley mansion. On her journey to the house she is caught in a downpour and catches ill, forcing her to stay at Netherfield for several days. In order to tend to Jane, Elizabeth hikes through muddy fields
|Scenes from the film Pride & Prejudice
and arrives with a spattered dress, much to the disdain of the snobbish Mr. Bingley. Charles Bingley's sister Miss Bingley's spite only increases when she notices that Darcy, whom she is pursuing, pays quite a bit of attention to Elizabeth.
At the beginning of winter, the Bingleys and Darcy leave Netherfield and return to London, much to Jane's dismay. A further shock arrives with the news that Mr. Collins has become engaged to Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth's best friend and the poor daughter of a local knight. Charlotte explains to Elizabeth that she is getting older and needs the match for financial reasons. Charlotte and Mr. Collins get married and Elizabeth promises to visit them at their new home. As winter progresses, Jane visits the city to see friends (hoping also that she might see Mr. Bingley). However, Miss Bingley visits her and behaves rudely, while Mr. Bingley fails to visit her at all. The marriage prospects for the Bennet girls appear bleak.
That spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte, who now lives near the home of Mr. Collins's patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is also Darcy's aunt. Darcy calls on Lady Catherine and encounters Elizabeth, whose presence leads him to make a number of visits to the Collins's home, where she is staying. One day, he makes a shocking proposal of marriage, which Elizabeth quickly refuses. She tells Darcy that she considers him arrogant and unpleasant, then scolds him for steering Bingley away from Jane and disinheriting Wickham.
And this way the story keeps evolving......
(R) thedailystar.net 2006