There is no argument as to the quality of Jane Austen’s writing. Her style is very eloquent and sophisticated, and honestly, reading Pride and Prejudice makes me feel somewhat ashamed of my own writing abilities. However, the complexity of Austen’s writing can become slightly confusing for people who don’t live in high society England in the 1800’s. Because the characters are trying to be so tactful, it takes them a page of very complex, subtle language to make a criticism that people in the modern world would make in a few blunt words. This doesn’t really bother me, though. Actually, I find it a bit funny at times. When someone makes a terse, simple comment like Elizabeth’s criticism of Mr. Darcy, I can tell that she must be really mad.
One of the best aspects of Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s characterization. So far, my favorite character is definitely Mr. Darcy. Even though Elizabeth believes him to be a snobby, self-centered, conceited man, I find him quite interesting and endearing. I would love to read a version of Pride and Prejudice written from his perspective. Elizabeth is very smart, and it is certainly nice to see this kind of female role model, but reading about her can sometimes frustrate me. I already know the plot of Pride and Prejudice, so when I see her do specific things that I know aren’t going to end well, I’m slightly peeved. I often think, “oh, my goodness, open your eyes!” to some of her actions. Of course, this is a mark of a good novel–caring about what happens, and feeling something towards the events that transpire.
Because the characters are so well-developed and are especially critical to Pride and Prejudice, I often wish that the narration was first-person. It would be so fascinating to see exactly what was going on inside the heads of some of the characters (except for Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennet, who drive me absolutely insane). I know that most novels of Austen’s time were written in third-person, and it is very helpful because readers can catch glimpses of each character’s thoughts rather than focusing in on one person, but I still think a first-person account from Darcy or Elizabeth, or even Jane could be wonderful.
What I love most about Pride and Prejudice so far is that it teaches a very understandable lesson about judgements and prejudice. When I read about racism and genocides, I think of prejudice on a very large scale, but prejudice can be small, like Elizabeth’s inaccurate judgements of Mr. Darcy. No one in our English class is going to go out and persecute an entire population, but we will all constantly make little judgements about the people around us, even though we shouldn’t. The relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is an example of two people truly getting to know and understand one another, and realizing that prejudice blinded their opinions of each other and damaged their relationship.