No matter what country or language, what town or what corner of the world, each and every one of us has heard the name ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at some point in our lives. One of the most renowned, widely loved, and famous literary classics of all time, the story of Pride and Prejudice is amongst the most greatly admired books in history.
Taking the form of a love story, the book explores social problems such as social inequality, class systems, and as the name of the book itself greatly suggests, social prejudice. Through the captivating pursuit of the Bennet sisters for love, the author, Jane Austen, deals with much greater issues and opens her viewer’s eyes to the misery caused by social inequality, and urges them to believe in a better quality of life when these problems are overcome.
When a handsome, wealthy young gentleman by the name of Charles Bingley arrives and rents the Netherfeild Park Manor, a stir of excitement is created in the nearby town of Longbourn. Among the most excited by the news are Mrs.Bennet and her five daughters, who are as desperate to find love and marry as their mother is for them to do so. Mr.Bennet pays Bingley a visit, after which the Bennets happen to attend a ball at which Bingley is present.
Bingley is introduced to Jane, the eldest of the Bennet sister, and takes quite a liking to her, while Elizabeth, her younger sister, overhears Bingleys close friend Mr.Darcy refuse to dance with her. Repelled by his pride and arrogance, she immediately begins to dislike him, which is set to continue for quite sometime thereafter. Jane and Bingley’s friendship continues to grow, and she makes frequent visits to the Netherfield manor to spend time with him. On one such occassion, she is caught midway in a massive downpour, and falls extremely ill. She is kept at the Netherfeild manor for care and supervision in the coming days, and Elizabeth rushes and clambers through the dirt and mud to reach her. When she arrives at the mansion with a spattered dress, Bingley’s sister is immediately disgusted and repelled by her, and even more so after she finds out that her choice of pursuit, Darcy, is beginning to fall for Elizabeth’s charming ways.
Around the same time, the Bennet girls have also developed a friendship with the militia officers stationed in the local town. One of the officers, Wickham, a handsome young soldier who has caught Elizabeth’s interest, tells her that Darcy has cruelly cheated him out of an inheritance he was due to receive, making her dislike and condemn him even more. When they return home from the Netherfield manor, they are visited by Mr.Collins, an arrogant young man set to inherit the Bennet estate after Mr.Bennet passes away. His patron, Lady Catherine, who also happens to be Darcy’s aunt, has instructed him to marry, and he announces that he plans to choose from the Bennet sisters. He proposes to Elizabeth, who refuses his offer and offends him. feeling insulted, he then pursues Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte, who accepts his proposal more for a need of financial security than for love.
When winter arrives, Bingley and Darcy leave urgently to return to London along with their entire entourage, leaving Jane in utter dismay. She is sent a letter by Bingley’s sister informing her that they do not plan to return, and she submits herself painfully to a life without Bingley. Elizabeth is angered by the pain caused to her sister, and she is convinced that Bingley’s sisters along with Darcy have steered Bingley away from Jane as they oppose the relationship.
Soon after, Elizabeth visits Charlotte at her new home, which is next to Lady Catherine’s house. Darcy happens to be visiting his aunt at the same time, and the two unexpectedly run into each other. Elizabeth is surprised at Darcy’s manner; he seems to seek out her attention and time but never says much. He stuns her even further when he proposes marriage, which she quickly turns down for a matter of pride and her sheer dislike for him. She scolds him for being arrogant and proud, and for steering Bingley away from Jane. Soon after, she receives a letter from Darcy explaining that he only urged Bingley away from Jane because he did not think she truly loved him, and also explained that Wickham had lied about the inheritance, and the real controversy was surrounding his wanting to elope with Darcy’s sister. After reading his letter, Elizabeth is forced to reevaluate her feelings for Darcy, and realizes that her own pride and prejudice against him has caused her to mistake him for being someone he is not. She too begins to fall for him.
When summer arrives, Elizabeth makes a trip to Pemberley, Darcy’s estate, with the Gardiners who are relatives of the Bennets. She makes sure to find out that Darcy will not be present at this time, however her luck falls short, and she runs into him unexpectedly once again. She is taken aback by his calm candor and his kind behavior despite her refusal to marry him, and is drawn to him even further. However her fairytale is cut short when she receives a letter from Jane informing her that their younger sister, Lydia, has eloped with Wickham, and the couple is nowhere to be found. She rushes home for fear that Lydia and Wickham are living together out of wedlock, and that this will tarnish the family name as well as ruin the sisters’ future prospects of marriage. When the couple is found however, the Bennets are informed that Wickham has agreed to marry Lydia for an annual income. Later, Elizabeth discovers that Darcy is the one who has arranged and pushed for Lydia’s marriage, hence saving the family from great shame. She is extremely grateful to him and falls even more in love with him.
Bingley returns to Netherfeild soon after, and resumes his pursuit of Jane. He asks for her hand in marriage, which of course, she promptly accepts. Darcy joins Bingley in his stay and continues his pursuit of Elizabeth as well. At the celebrations, Lady Catherine visits Elizabeth and demands that she promise not to marry Darcy, as the match is unsuitable due to the difference in social statuses of the two. However, Elizabeth refuses, which gives Darcy the confidence to propose once again. Elizabeth accepts this time, and both sisters are finally happily married!
Through her feisty, strongly opinionated characters, Jane Austen has created a little world within her book which every single individual can relate to and has experienced at some point in their life. Although she seems to go over the top with the Bennet girls’ obsession with love and marriage, her characters are extremely realistic, making them relatable to people from any part of the world, and in any period of time.
Darcy and Bingley represent the wealthier sections of society, which are presumed to be arrogant and proud. Austen cleverly ensures that the Bennet girls, who represent the lower classes of society, see their prejudices for what they are, and break past them to discover the kindness and beauty within the two wealthy men. Likewise, Darcy’s prejudice against association with the lower classes and his pride in the matter cause him to lose Elizabeth the first time, but he too realizes that his prejudice has defied him and sees past it. Thus, through the stories and love lives of the different families, Austen reinforces the title ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
The audiobook of Pride and Prejudice has been keenly narrated and beautifully articulated to provide listeners with a wonderful experience, throwing them into the depths of the dramatic, endlessly entertaining lives of the Bennets and those surrounding them.
For those readers who enjoy a story with a hidden lesson, there is none other like Pride and Prejudice. the perfect concoction of pride, pain, and above all, love, Pride and Prejudice is a must listen for anyone and everyone. Austen’s genius creation and heartfelt story of the Bennet sisters is and will always be one of the most widely loved literary classics of all time!
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