Tonight I met with my classics book club to discuss Pride and Prejudice. (I love having an excuse to ignore dishes sitting in the sink and read all afternoon, which is what I did two days in a row in order to get this book done!) This was a familiar story as I had read the book previously and had watched every movie based on this book at least twice. The appeal of this story is that its characters, tension, wit and humor never grow old.
I instantly sympathized with Elizabeth who is a lively and intelligent, yet flawed soul. While Elizabeth's mother wants to see all of her daughters married to wealthy men, Elizabeth is more interested in living authentically. She loves people for who they are, not for what their status in life is. She wants happiness for herself and her sister Jane. She wants to be judged on her own merits, and not based on her embarrassing family members or her social status and wealth, or lack thereof.
There are many obstacles standing in her way--her family, the social customs and mores of society, and her own prejudices and quick-to-judge temperament. Elizabeth remains true to herself and, in the end, gets the man of course.
Honestly, I think that if all of the people in Pride and Prejudice had been gainfully employed, not even half of the drama would have happened. That's what you get when you sit around all day and stew over things and have time to write all those long letters.
We talked about whether Charlotte Lucas was right to marry Mr. Collins, whether Mr. Bennett was a good husband/father, whether people change over time or essentially remain as they always were, and whether it is acceptable to intervene and tell a friend when you think they are making a big mistake romantically. We also talked about the reaction of the family (and society) to Lydia running off with Wickham and whether we would want our daughter marrying such a man if we were in that situation (personally, I would say NO!). All in all, it was a good discussion.
One complaint I have is that the book ends too happily to be realistic. Perhaps Austen made all her books end with such perfection and happiness so that she could live vicariously through her heroines, as there was no fairytale ending in her own life.
So far we have read Don Quixote, Pilgrim's Progress, Gulliver's Travels, and now Pride and Prejudice. Oliver Twist is next. After that only 26 books to go before we are done with the novels' genre in Bauer's book! By the time my kids are in high school, maybe I will feel that I have a handle on classic literature! My fingers are crossed.