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  • Avril Rodriguez

Pride and Prejudice: A Timeless Staple

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice follows the story of a young woman, Elizabeth Bennet, and her unforgettable life experiences in the high society of England in the 19th century. In the novel, Elizabeth meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, a pretentious wealthy man. From attending lavish balls to living in the countryside, Miss Bennet learns about the repercussions of making hasty judgments and whether or not she has created a prejudiced opinion toward others.

Being assigned readings at school, I always felt discouraged from reading novels independently and enhancing my knowledge outside school. From being assigned Romeo and Juliet to To Kill a Mockingbird, I never enjoyed reading classic literature. Pride and Prejudice was one of those books. At first, I was reluctant to begin reading the novel until I fell into a rabbit hole of "coming-of-age romantic books" on TikTok - Pride and Prejudice continued to appear in these videos. It was a sign to at least be interested in this ageless love story. I asked myself, "If generations of people have found satisfaction in reading the novel, why shouldn't I?" Alongside wanting to improve my reading comprehension for standardized exams, I realized that Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist, is just like the girls I know, including myself.

Having been written over 200 years ago, I believed I couldn't relate to the characters, even though we are relatively the same age. The story follows Miss Bennet and her occurrences of everyday life in gossiping, courting others, flirting with the military officers, dancing at balls, and falling for someone she initially hated.

While reading the story, I was invested in Elizabeth's situation. From rejecting her cousin in marriage, to being told deceitful lies, to having to sit in awkward silence with a pretentious man, this 19th-century girl was of the few some may consider feminists of her time. In one part of the story, Elizabeth rejects Mr.Collin's (her cousin) marriage proposal after only a few days of knowing her. Rather than seeking matrimony where the only satisfaction brought is the idea of a comfortable home, Elizabeth envisions a future for herself where she can not only be equal to her husband but to find a sense of love and affection for her supposed other. In meeting Mr.Darcy (the snobbish man I keep referring to), his initial pride towards her community and family sets a prejudiced image of himself towards Elizabeth, which - reasonably so in the moment - leads her to despise him, despite his efforts to get to know her better.

Elizabeth is relatable because she faces the same struggles with anxiety and embarrassment that we may feel in everyday life. Simple thoughts, such as running into someone in the park, can lead us to feel a sense of stress and anxiousness at the idea of the interaction. Pride and Prejudice shows readers that they are not alone in these feelings that may sometimes feel ridiculous yet consume our thoughts for the time it occurs. For example, in the book, after Mr.Darcy confesses his love for Miss Bennet (spoiler), Elizabeth plans a different route around her favorite park so she doesn't run into Mr.Darcy while on her daily walk. At first, this sounds absurd, but it's the same as purposely avoiding someone in the hallway in hopes of not having to speak to them or bump into them. Pride and Prejudice shows us that these feelings and (sometimes) intrusive thoughts are a normal and justified human reaction to an unexpected event/occurrence. The novel also teaches us, in the end, to overcome these anxieties by confronting the problem and making peace with it rather than avoiding it until the end of days.

Pride and Prejudice teaches its readers to not be so quick to judge and form ill opinions about someone that may not seem amiable at first instance. Friendships take time to foster into long-lasting alliances with persons you can trust and share your thoughts with. Teenagers, including myself, are quick to form strong opinions on people they may not seem to know well based on appearance and first impressions.


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