Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

I read Pride and Prejudice while I was in Europe this summer. Contrary to my expectations, I really enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that John wanted to read it too. The characters were vivid, the story was interesting, and Jane Austen is an excellent writer. I had to watch the BBC movie production of the book in high school, and couldn't stomach it; the book was much better. Who knows—maybe I'd even enjoy the movie now.

This isn't a well-conceived essay on the book; rather, it's a few quotes and words that stood out to me while I was reading. Maybe something will stand out to you, too.

First, some new words I learned:
  • supercilious: disdainful
  • profligacy: extravagance
  • querulous: full of complaints
  • panegyric: a formal public speech
And now, a few of my favorite quotes:
...more than commonly anxious to please, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing would fail her.
—the narrator, on Elizabeth
"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner."
"A man who had felt less, might."
—Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, on why he didn't do more earlier to win Elizabeth

I was happy to find these two quotes, because they very eloquently describe how I feel so much of the time. It's easy to be myself around everyday friends, but it's hard when I'm around girls that I'm interested in—which is when I most want to be myself. Cruel irony, isn't it?
It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can avoid it.
—Mr. Darcy, on dancing. He and I agree. :)
To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either.
—Mr. Darcy, on agreeing just because a friend wants you to.
It was not in her nature, however, to increase her vexations, by dwelling on them. She was confident of having performed her duty, and to fret over unavoidable evils, or augment them by anxiety, was no part of her disposition.
—the narrator, on Elizabeth. I wish that I were more like her.
Her father captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humor, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence, had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown.
—the narrator, on Mr. Bennet

I think this last quote is one of the saddest, and yet most insightful in the book. The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is obviously humorous, but it's also obviously emotionally dessicated. They survive together, but there is an invisible wall between them. In contrast to Mr. Bennet, I want to marry someone amazing—someone with a vibrant mind, self-confidence, insight, and compassion. Youth and beauty may catch the eye, but thoughtfulness, maturity, happiness, and spirituality catch the heart. Perhaps more importantly, I want to be that kind of person for my wife.

1 comment:

cindy said...

I love that book. I am glad you got the deeper meanings Jane Austin put in. I think the reason many men don't like "Pride and Prejudice" is because they can't look past the "girly" parts of it to get at the real meat--the social commentary on broad issues as well as interpersonal relationships.