But vanity, not love, has been my folly…Till this moment I never knew myself.
Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel by Jane Austen. The story is mainly concerned with the emotional development of the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The story happens under the background of the British Regency period, and it reveals the themes of proper manners, education, marriage, money and class.
This book is highly recommended to people with vague or inappropriate understanding of love and romance, and to juveniles to understand the basic love philosophy. The language in the book is not contemporary, but it is not hard to read or understand.
The philosophy of love
— book review of Pride and Prejudice
At the time the story takes place, ”it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. Although people’s views of love and marriage are quite different from the present world, the romance and love stories in the book Pride and Prejudice still provide readers with some great insights about the prerequisites of successful and admirable relationships. As a love story, the book starts with Mr. Darcy’s pride toward the protagonist Elizabeth, and the obstructions of their romance is followed by the mutual bias of the couple. Austen elaborates the proper attitudes toward love and romance by also introducing other characters including Mrs. Bennet, Charlotte, Lydia and Lady Catherine and specifically by contrasting their values with the one of the protagonist. In the book, Austen presents different women from various social class in the era, satirizes the twisted marriage philosophy of these characters, and most importantly, introduces and promotes the right kind of love philosophy.
Austen believes that the core of a successful relationship is a balance between the two lovers, and it is important to eliminate pride or prejudice toward each other. From the various obstacles facing the protagonists, it is revealed that the fundamental prerequisite of love is to respect the special one. In the book, Darcy fails his first proposal to Elizabeth because of his pride. Even when he confesses his love to the girl, he still acts with vanity and truly agitates and confuses Elizabeth. Like many people, Elizabeth finds it uncomfortable and mortifying to be admired by someone so disagreeable, despite of the fact that misunderstanding contributes greatly to the first two failed proposals. After the civility of Darcy is improved, Elizabeth is attracted by the man and falls in love with him. Their acquaintance, as well as the successful romance between Jane and Mr. Bingley perfectly prove that it is important to treat oneself equally between lovers. Only when people respect each other and put themselves in the shoe of the other can they truly even talk about love. Equal treatment would be one of the most important love prerequisites Austen tries to convey, as the relationship status of the protagonists correspond to the civility of the two characters.
Besides equal treatment and respect, Austen also argues that the intention of love is very important in romantic relationships. In the book, Mr. Bennet serves as a great example. He marries a lady whom he considers good-looking when he is young and successful. He puts himself in marriage not because of love, but because of fame and the belief of the necessity to marry. Despite of the attractive appearance, his wife is later found to be completely ignorant and mercenary. This unsuccessful relationship shows that it is important to truly love someone and engage in such romantic relationships, instead of sacrificing one’s marriage to conform to the cultural norms. The result of such conformity is often times devastating, as in the book Mr. Bingley always ridicules his wife for being ignorant and badly-educated. There are other various examples of unsuccessful relationships in the book, and all show that true love is very important. For example, Charlotte’s marriage with Mr.Collins was based on her desire for stability and money, which is why their marriage was deemed to fail in the eyes of others.
Jane Austen believes in true love and she knows that to have a successful romantic relationship and even long-term commitments like marriage require pure hearts. From the beginning of the story, Mrs. Bennet has urged her five daughters to be engaged with wealthy men at the party. Jane, one of the two daughters who are well-behaved, falls in love with Mr. Bingley at their first sights, who also acts with great civility and is admired by all. The two youngsters fall in love naturally and demonstrated the power of true love and balanced relationship. The other daughters of the family, however, are always looking for hot officers and never know how to improve themselves.
It is important to be equally engaged and treated in a relationship, to seek for true love instead of other ostentatious things from marriages. Austen argues that is is not encouraged to use wealth, countenance or background as leverages of finding the loved one, but she also argues that it is necessary to keep these factors in mind. Lovers should have mutual affections for each other, to embrace each other at heart, instead of using marriage as tools of reproduction or obtaining fortunes
Pride and Prejudice— Jane Austen
date:6/23/2018 (revised in June, 2019)
revision comments: Looking back at my very first book review, I realized the immaturity of my writing and revised mainly in the wording. I also focused on properly weaving in the quotes and evidence and linking analysis and conclusion to the contents in the book. These are all skills I learned from the freshmen humanity classes.