I found some parts of the novel, especially at the start, to develop slowly, but, once the main characters vying for Elizabeth’s affection were fully explained and developed, the story picked up interest and pace. Austen delves into the minds of the higher middle to upper class ladies of the eighteenth century in a classic tale of prince meets pauper girl, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Of course, she—the writer—introduces us to an unusually witty character in Elizabeth, and through her experiences reveals how the mothers of that century were just as anxious about marrying off their daughters as women have been until the mid-twentieth century. In our modern times, with some couples living many years together before the question of marriage being brought up—if ever, we can see how drastically this has all changed, BUT, having said that, I am still left wondering if this anxiety does not still persist in some upper class families and most surely in the royal families of Europe and beyond. So, it is an issue that might still be applicable in our times as well.
Austen, in a backdrop of entertainment balls, introduces us to higher society England and travels us from the north western districts of greater London to the inner city. It’s no wonder that with such a setting, this novel has been reproduced in film. In fact, my enjoyment of the works was increased when I supplemented my having read the book with seeing the 2005 version of the novel in film, starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy. In this film, I feasted my eyes on the Victorian style houses, the grand halls and manors with luscious green lawns and beautiful gardens, and the delightful costumes of the age.
In conclusion, Jane Austen’s tale ends joyfully enough but, were I to compare it with the tragedies that play out in Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’, or the soul wrenching works of Bronte in ‘Wuthering Heights’, I would have to place Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in a slightly lower league, which is not to say that the novel is undeserving, just that comparable works of the period are better.