Pride and Prejudice is a book written by Jane Austen. Neither requires an introduction.
It contains a surplus of irritating and unlikeable characters. These include the selfish Mr and Mrs Bennet, the sociopathic Mr Wickham, the slimy Mr Collins and the shallow Mary Bennet. Like The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm, we are meant to enjoy the social mistakes committed by these at-times grotesque characters. Unfortunately, the cultural differences between now and that author’s time means that such humour is limited. The only really sympathetic character was Mr Darcy, whose policy of making grumpy faces at dances seems reasonable considering the company he is forced to keep.
The phraseology is another alienating aspect of Pride and Prejudice. The characters speak in a dialect that I’ve yet to see replicated outside of Stephen Fry’s ramblings on QI. In fact, I can only hope that there is an audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry, because that is the only way I see the book’s language gaining any sort of authenticity.
One of Austen’s particularly annoying habits is using the word ‘cried’ as a dialogue tag. I do not interpret ‘cried’ as the sad crying, more of an excited yelp. Characters are always crying about this and that. Sister eloping with a creep? ‘Oh no!’ cries Elizabeth. Are the characters walking through a pretty garden? ‘Oh yeah!’ cries someone else. There is simply too much crying in this book. Austen’s editor should have done something about it. It’s melodramatic.
There is an unintentional reoccurring gag that I’m quite fond of. Austen’s characters do a lot of communication through mail, and they end their letters with their name in capital letters. I don’t know why, but the sudden transition into all-caps SCREAMING makes me laugh.
Pride and Prejudice does contain some fairly apt witticisms. Unfortunately, they are buried in a sea of problems I’ve previously identified within the text. The interaction between Mr and Mrs Bennet can also be somewhat amusing.
Given my lack of enthusiasm for Pride and Prejudice readers may wonder why I even read the book at all. The answer is that my own surreal ebook, Blue Blue City, was ultimately derived from Pride and Prejudice. Reading Pride and Prejudice was how I paid my dues.
My verdict is that Pride and Prejudice is not a text worth reading within itself, but may contain some historical nuggets for anthropologists investigating the mating rituals of British gentry.
And another thing that annoyed me about P’n’P was when the silly sister, I think her name was Kitty Bennet or something cutesy like that, ran off to marry the creepy Bingly and all her siblings were like: ‘Nup, we’re not gonna let that happen’. I think they tried to get Mr. Darcy to intervene, I can’t remember that well. But the whole thing bothered me because they really didn’t respect Kitty’s capacity to make choices for herself, even if they were bad ones.