Pride and Prejudice, the famed classic manners romance by
Jane Austen, is a story of how personality conflicts and rumors can get in the
way of real love. This brilliant masterpiece demonstrates the problems
with the mannered society of the time's proper way of going about love, but
also warns against the dangers of stretching the limits provided too far.
The story centers around the Bennets, a noble family with the problem of having
many daughters (five, in fact) and no sons. Mrs. Bennet, a very comic and
silly character, knows that when Mr. Bennet dies, their estate will be left to
a distant male cousin, so she is focused on trying to marry her daughters to
rich men as soon as possible so that they will be provided for. Mr.
Bennet is more concerned with propriety instead of selling his daughters to the
highest bidder, but he gets little pleasure from his wife with no sense, so he
lets her carry on often so that he can make fun of her with sarcastic remarks
in the privacy of his home.
The two eldest, Jane and Elizabeth, are therefore taken to meet any new
noblemen in the neighborhood as soon as possible, and when the book opens, two
very rich men have just moved in. Jane is very sweet and only wants to
please her mother...but still marry for love. Elizabeth
is not nearly as sweet, taking more after her father, and she is more
embarrassed easily by her mother's antics. She also, however, is
determined that if she marries at all, it will be for love. The two
daughters are much more romantically minded than the village of people looking
for a good inheritance for their children, however, as they soon find out.
Austin again perfectly engrosses us
in this world of propriety and manners that we normally do not get the chance
to experience. She uses this book to talk about the worthiness of love,
and how marrying for any other reason, including money, lust, beauty or simply convenience,
can and will have consequences, often devastating ones.