This was my opinion of the author ensuing the five minutes of a BBC dramatization I was unfortunate enough to encounter, and the fifteen pages of Pride and Prejudice I endured two years ago. With the purpose of challenging this intolerance I set aside my prejudices and read it. … Three days of summer holiday and a dozen or so hours of persistence later I reached the closing pages with an outlook that was, to say the least, unchanged; the faint interest sustained towards the middle of the novel was extinguished completely, and all my pessimistic expectations were depressingly established.
The plot is centred around spouse gathering (the first line: ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’), which is the foundation of many Victorian novels: Hardy, for example, takes this base and adds complications of treachery, death and suicide; Far from the Madding crowd, for example, begins with a rather placid story about a pretty woman and her admirers; by the conclusion the unsuccessful aforementioned is driven insane by the return of the deserted aforementioned and shoots him, then fails to kill himself.
Dickens is less miserable or intrepid, but assembles more inventive themes: money, school, factory life, etc; and his books usually encompass a larger phase of time. Jane Austen, in the stated book, never really develops on the relationship concept – and in the Victorian epoch that seldom went beyond conversation and financial speculation. My interpretation of this is negative – Jane Austen has no imagination; but a better educated reader may compliment the author on her development of an unpromising and unoriginal yarn.
There is little tension in the novel, with only three marriage contenders and four suitors – jealous relations don’t really count. (There are various instances of mild unease inside this book though – the first scene, however tame, has to be recognized for this; a bachelor has just entered the area (Bingley), and the steady use of words such as ‘impatiently’ and ‘immediately’, coupled with the (over)use of exclamation marks, expose Mrs. Bennet’s eagerness. A similar sense of infinitesimal apprehension is communicated in the seventeenth chapter of the same volume: a ball in a short period of time and no-one married yet (… ).
The few incidents of conversation contain fewer exclamation marks and more semi-colons: ‘I am by no means of opinion, I assure you, that a ball of this kind, given by a young man of character, to respectable people, can have any evil tendency;’ … etc. The stress is shaped by the writer, who still only utilizes frail expressions like ‘anticipation’ and ‘endurable’ (and no exclamation marks). ) There are dark sides to characters, but only Wickham has one; and these debts and elopements don’t really have the same power as mass drowning fiascos (Return of the Native) or penitentiary excursions to Australia (Great Expectations).
Both elder sisters marry the only people the author made it realistic to, but I suppose Elizabeth could have married Wickham (‘she could think of nothing but Mr. Wickham’ in Volume one). The characters are mind-numbingly one-dimensional compared to those of today’s sophisticated dramas (House, for example), excluding Mr Darcy, who undergoes an inversion (‘your reproofs had been attended to’) after Elizabeth pitilessly rejects him (‘you could not have made me the offer of your hand in any way that would have tempted me to accept it’).
Jane is shy, pleasant, and (inevitably) handsome – to the point of implausibility and irritation (after discovering a disloyalty to the charitable wishes expressed in a dead father’s will: ‘nothing therefore remained to be done but to think well of them both’). Lydia is the teenage daughter who runs off with a soldier – ‘what a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing’ (need more be said? ) Mr. Collins, a pompous vicar: ‘Mrs. Collins and myself sincerely sympathize with you, and all your respectable family [my italics]’ – a typical insinuation by the snob.