This is kind of a sibling post to the one I did here. But we’re reading Pride and Prejudice in class right now and I started to think about the differences between what we might consider pride and prejudice as to what they were in Austen’s time.
I remember reading this book for the first time when I was about fifteen. I fell madly in love with everything: Darcy, Lizzy, Pemberely. I loved the interaction between Lizzy and Darcy—the fact you could see they were attracted to each other but kept apart for various reasons: social class, wealth, their pride and prejudices toward each other.
Reading it this time around (so many times re-reading this book), I found I was harder on Lizzy than I had ever been before. She was so ready to believe that Wickham and even Colonel Fitzwilliam were in love with her, but so unwilling to believe that Darcy might be. She was absolutely mortified by her family’s behavior, but really, they are her family.
I think part of the reason I am harder on Elizabeth now is that I am her age. Seeing her make the same choices that I might make, or that any of my friends might make, is hard for me. It’s not just a love story where eventually Elizabeth and Darcy’s regard for each other wins out. It’s the same social/dating game we have now, just repackaged for the 21st century. We still allow our pride to get in the way. We still act prejudiced to people who we deem “aren’t in our league.” And some still date or marry for money or status.
It’s been harder to read Pride and Prejudice this time. Emotionally, I found myself more invested than I was when a kid and reading it for the first time. It’s no longer a glimpse of the future, but an echo of where I am in my own life now.
And I am glad I read it again so I can keep my own pride and prejudices in check.
What about you? How do you see us as a society acting on our “prejudices” and “pride”?
P.S. You can now get Shakespeare’s Lady on Kindle or Nook!