All of my creature comforts are back from their long voyage across the ocean so naturally the first thing I did was reread Pride and Prejudice while eating breakfast and taking a bubble bath. You know, just to get it all out of my system at once.
pride and prejudice wasn't written as a resistance to the patriarchy djdjfhdhsj what
i mean i’ve been staring at this message for a solid minute now pondering how to reply, trying to figure out how ro reply, but honestly it boils down to one question: have you read it?
because literally the prevalent theme of pride & prejudice as well as other works of Austen—perhaps most visibly, sense & sensibility—is the ironic social commentary on the degraded role of women, as subjected and dependent on the way of whether they would marry well as they used to be?
like, honestly, what did you think it was about? sure it has a romance in it, but it’s probably one of the the most politically designed and carried out romantical arcs in literature, as it relies not so much on mutual affection, but rather darcy aknowledging his fault of diminishing elizabeth as an intelligent human being. at first, we see him as quite obviously set upon taking her for granted and applying stereotypes; startled with her outspoken attitude and clueless as to why she would reject him. because it IS surprising, that’s the point, given the context of Austen’s novel, the commonly praised choice would be to accept not only darcy, but mr collins without another thought. what do you think is the reason mrs bennet was so distraught all the time? there was no way of securing the future of her daughters other than marriage, we hear it being repeated over and over again—they cannot inherit their father’s fortune.
and—good grief. that’s the romantic ‘main plot’ concerning darcy and elizabeth alone, because the whole point is that he changes his beliefs and acknowledges elizabeth as an equal in the end. darcy isn’t exceptional for being surly and broody, he’s exceptional because he listens and learns.
but all the rest? the whole arc of charlotte, and her unhappy and dull marriage to mr collins, and the stark contrast with elizabeth. charlotte is not WRONG, she does the only thing she knows for certain will allow her to live in a respectful way without becoming ‘a burden to her parents’. the arc of lydia, basing off her portrayal against wickham? even with all his debt, infamy and faults, wickham’s opinion is at no point more blemished than lydia’s. that’s the point, that’s reiteraring the original notion of the disparity between men and women in regency England. the radiating, stinging paternalistic attitude of mr collins towards elizabeth when he marries charlotte and TELLS her that she would probably get no better chance. his absolute belief—corresponding with darcy’s, and contrasted with the latter’s rehabilitation later on—that elizabeth has no choice but accept him.
and elizabeth herself—for all the composition and impeccable manners, she IS a controversial figure in the novel. take the scene when she’s bashed by lady catherine de bourgh, the ongoing commentary on her being too forward with her opinions, the continuous bashing coming from her mother—the lingering threat that lizzy’s ‘stubbornness’ will cause her much trouble and, above all, prevent her from securing both her and the other sisters from absolute poverty when their father dies.
and, just … of course it’s written subtly, it’s conveyed in elizabeth’s wit, in austen’s slightly ironic narrative. the problem with the situation of women is not EXPLICITLY named and stated. it’s not modern times where we’re accustomed to forward addressing of feminist issues. no: it’s shown. it is not only the consistent theme in her works, it’s the prevalent theme of them. i mean, come on, there’s tonnes and tonnes of books that were NOT written with a purpose of targeting partiarchy. fuck, there are much MORE of such books than there is of the latter kind. But to choose Pride & Prejudice specifically, a novel which became one of the most famous books in the world, renowned for e x a c t l y t h i s … i cannot comprehend. please, at least consider this: do you really think the purpose of austen writing p&p was writing a romance? really? why would it become so much of a literature landmark, then?
i don’t mean to be nasty and honestly, go and have your opinion, you’re perfectly entitled to it, but it does make me sad that a novel that is a witty, outsanding and one of a kind social commentary on the plight of women in a specific time period written by a woman IN the time period is turned into something as common as a novel with a romantic plot. that’s all.
Wuthering Heights: The food is as unappealing as the host’s personality. You find yourself fleeing the estate and taking refuge in the surrounding moorlands before the second course is served.
Great Expectations: The host wears a mildewed wedding dress as she cuts what looks to be a thirty-year-old piece of vanilla cake. You sit quietly and try to fake a smile.
Northanger Abbey: You think your host is the type of person who might have murdered his wife and hid her body in a dusty old dresser. As you take a bite of the pot roast it doesn’t even occur to you that he might just be a dick.
Jane Eyre: The fare is far better than the stale bread and bitter tea provided at your boarding school, but that’s little comfort when the host’s wife keeps setting the table linens on fire.
Dracula: You know that you are sipping on a fine Cabernet, but what is he drinking?
Pride and Prejudice: Over dessert, one of your guests confesses that he has fallen in love with you in spite of your family’s terrible table manners. You stab your pudding with your spoon and tell him he’s the last man you could ever be prevailed upon to marry.