Friday, February 1, 2013


2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the release of Pride & Prejudice, and rather coincidentally, I've been on a bit of an Austen-athon.

Compared to a lot of people, I'm a fairly recent convert. Mia Sorella first introduced me right before I took a selected authors course at Mines where we covered P&P and Persuasion (which happens to be my personal favorite of hers). In the last seven years (holy cow, it's been longer than I thought) I've read, watched, listened (I love audio books) and even visited. In 2009, I got to roam Bath during my venture to England and have tea at the Jane Austen Centre. I wandered the gravel walk, saw the Roman baths, and pondered the dreary weather.

This and other stills were Facelifted from the Jane Austen
Facebook fan page. They're all from the 1995 BBC
production of Pride & Prejudice.
And tonight, when I needed to get some work done around the house, I popped the 1995 BBC version of P&P into the DVD player, as I've done so many times, and actually ended up with a clean living room.

It's a miraculous miniseries, I tell you.

But today I found myself pondering the characters. And in honor of Year 200, I thought I'd share those thoughts.

1. How on earth did Jane Bennett get through all of this without developing a complex?

The beauty (and the thing that garnered criticism when it was originally released) of P&P is that it is about everyday middle-class(ish) people with fairly everyday problems. That being said, I've always wondered how Jane -- the quiet, kind, assuming sister that everyone loves -- survives the book. Nowadays, she'd be the one who goes 'round the bend halfway through, mostly from the pressure everyone else puts on her. It's up to her to improve her family's lot in life, and then as soon as Mr. Bingley leaves town her mother starts talking about how Jane lost him. No wonder she's depressed about it. (Well, besides the fact that he's a good guy and all that.) No one will let her get over him.

2. Mr. Bingley grows more than we give him credit for.

He's fun, he's friendly, but he's a pushover in the beginning. By the end, his most fearsome friend is apologizing to him. That says something, I think.

3. There are plenty of Mrs. Bennetts in the world.

I have been very, VERY lucky in life -- my mother has never put any pressure on me to get married and settle down. But I have plenty of friends with moms like Mrs. Bennett, moms that ask unendingly about boyfriends and then husbands and then kids. The only thing that makes Mrs. Bennett more ridiculous than them is that she doesn't have anything else to do with her time. At all.

4. There are also plenty of Mr. Bingleys in the world.

Thank goodness.

5. I'm not so sure about how many Mr. Darcys there are out there.

Mostly because "good guy" and "rich" don't seem to get along so well. Mr. Bingley is at least "not ridiculously rich."

6. Kitty annoys me.

Of all the girls, she's the most gullible and empty-headed. And it's irritating.

7. Clearly, Mary had the hots for Mr. Collins.

[Ew.] He's just her type. Awkwardly ceremonious and caught up in his books to the point of snobbery.

8. I love the Jane Austen Book Club theory that Charlotte's gay.

In 19th century terms, Charlotte was an oddball. She was well on her way to spinsterhood but she just ... didn't seem to care. When she found a guy who she could cope with and came with a respectable position in life where she could do her familial duties and raise a family without trouble, she went with him. (Huh. Maybe she was a golddigger who failed early and settled for minor golddigging later.)

9. I want to know the rest of the story of Lydia and Wickham.

I mean, if you want drama, that would be the plotline to follow. Although I suppose it would mostly amount to a cautionary tale in a Lifetime movie way.

10. I want to be more like Jane.

Again with the calmness. Lizzy -- the clear favorite -- is fantastic, but I envy Jane's serenity.

11. Thank goodness it's no longer universally true that one family member can destroy an entire family's reputation.

... At least not the same ways.

12. I am tremendously relieved that I was born in the late 20th century.

At least now when I call myself a spinster I'm joking.

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