Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most famous and popular novel and has captured the minds and hearts of many generations of readers. The novel traces the trials and tribulations of the Bennet family as Mrs Bennet seeks to marry off her five daughters. Written in the first half of the nineteenth century when the main goal for a young middle-class woman was to be married to a gentleman of similar or higher social standing, Pride and Prejudice offers a satirical perspective on marriages of convenience while also demonstrating that love can flourish under the most unlikely circumstances.
The novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, is a strong, independent woman who views the behaviour of her mother and some of her younger sisters with a critical yet witty eye. Therefore, when Mr Darcy, an eligible bachelor, comes to town and appears to dismiss her and her family she is convinced that he is the most obnoxious and arrogant of men. As the novel progresses, however, a series of misunderstandings and infidelities come to light that slowly but surely change Elizabeth’s initial prejudices against Mr Darcy. As she is caught up in the separate love tangles her sisters and friends engage in, Elizabeth finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into a love she never imagined she would feel.
The novel succeeds in conveying a message about the blatant class snobbery that existed at the time while entertaining its readers with characters such as Mr Collins who serve both to highlight this snobbery and its often ludicrous nature and to provide the reader with some light amusement. Austen observed the world around her and reproduced its cruel and funny elements with great skill and wit. The intrigues and issues that populate Pride and Prejudice combine to make it Austen’s finest work of literature and a delight to readers almost two hundred years after its publication.