Pride and Prejudice

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day dear readers.

I'm not doing Suggestion Saturday this week because I wanted to read a book that was in keeping with the Valentine's Day theme - but Suggestion Saturday will be making its triumphant return next Saturday, so please keep the suggestions coming.

Today's book; "The romantic clash of two opinionated young people provides the sustaining theme of Jane Austen's 1813 masterpiece Pride and Prejudice. Spirited Elizabeth Bennet is one of a family of five daughters; with no male heir, the Bennet estate must someday pass to their priggish cousin Mr. Collins. Therefore, the girls must marry well - and the arrogant bachelor Mr. Darcy is Elizabeth's elusive match."

Shallow thoughts about this book:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have always reminded me of my parents. I thought that the first time that I read this book, and I couldn't stop laughing in the theater when I saw the movie. Inevitably, every time I go to the movie theater I end up sitting by someone who laughs at everything, even the parts that aren't even remotely funny. When I went to see Pride and Prejudice with my sister, we became those people - everything that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet said amused me. Clearly Jane knew someone like my parents, because in every one of her books there is a couple that bear a striking resemblance to the two of them. This could become a fun game for those of you who know my parents - the next time you watch/read any of the other books/movies try to see if you can figure out which characters are my parents. - This reminds me of game my sister and I sometimes play: pretend family. There are two ways to play - the first way is where you pick the characters from literature (or you can use movies as well) that you would like to be related to if you had the chance, and the second way is where you try to find the characters in literature that are most like your real relatives. It's a fun travel game, and it really passes the time when you're stuck in an airport for several hours or stuck in rush hour traffic.
  • Mrs. Bennet mentions that Mr. Bingley has just moved into the neighborhood, and has an income of 4 or 5 thousand pounds a year. I wanted to know how much that would be, not only today, but also in American dollars. So first I searched for some way of figuring out what four thousand pounds in 1813 would be worth today, and I found this interesting article: Then I converted the pounds to dollars and came up with this amount: $333,890.86. - So, it turns out that Mr. Bingley is not as wealthy as I had imagined him to be - not that he's poor or anything, but I was imagining him as having an income of several million a year.
  • While reading this book I kept thinking about a scene from the movie You've Got Mail where Kathleen tells Joe that she's read Pride and Prejudice over two hundred times, and that every time she's in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are going to get together. I feel the same way when I'm reading a Jane Austen novel, and when I'm watching one of the movies - I already know going into it exactly how it's going to end, and yet I feel like I'm in suspense the whole time, thinking, "I hope they end up together." That's totally insane to feel that way about a book that I've already read about 20 times, and yet I still hold my breath a little every time I read it.
  • Yesterday I mentioned words that I can't stand the sound of - well today I would like to talk about words that I love. I love the word amiable. I'm so sad that people don't use words like that anymore. Whenever I read a Jane Austen novel, just a little bit of the language starts to creep into my speech, and I try to use words like amiable. This always results in me getting very strange looks from whoever I'm talking to. I think we should all use the word amiable at least five times tomorrow, and see if we can do our part to bring that word back. Are you with me dear readers? Or do you not get a kick out of being weird the way that I do?
  • I'm always amused by how dramatic people in Jane Austen novels are about colds. I know it was another time period, and minor illnesses were more dangerous than they are now, but I think some of those characters are being drama queens. The Bingley sisters are described as being "grieved" upon hearing the news of Jane's cold, and go on to discuss how "shocking it was to have a bad cold." In other Jane Austen books, someone having a cold is described as "sad news," and producing effects which are "exceedingly bleak." - Of course my sister is no less dramatic when she has a minor illness. She stands at the top of the stairs, acts like she's about to faint, and says, "Death . . . Is . . . Imminent," her voice getting weaker which each word that passes.

My favorite sentences of the book:

". . . and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity." (I love how in Jane Austen novels, even when an insult is expressed it comes out sounding so wonderful that it would be easy to miss the insult if you weren't reading carefully enough.)

"To Elizabeth it appeared that had her family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit or finer success." (I can't stop laughing about that sentence.)

Join me tomorrow dear readers as I kick of Suggestion Sunday. For those who missed my previous entry where I talked about Suggestion Sunday - I'm setting aside one day a week to read books that have been suggested by family members. I'll leave you in suspense of who is going to be the first family member chosen (except for those of you who don't even know my family, in which case I'm sure you're feeling no suspense at all).