7 Things you need to know about Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous novels of all time. Here are seven facts about the book that you might not have heard before
Though Caroline Bingely declared "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in order to attract Mr Darcy, it's a sentiment is shared by readers worldwide.
While many of us have lost count of how many times we have read the novel or watched the film adaptations, there is always something new to discover about this literary treasure. In this exploration of Pride and Prejudice, we will uncover seven lesser-known tidbits about the book, its characters and its enduring legacy.
1. The original title: "First Impressions"
Can you imagine a world without Pride and Prejudice? Jane Austen certainly had. The author had initially titled her novel First Impressions and it was under this name that Austen began drafting the story in 1796.
It wasn't until later, in 1813, that the novel was published under its now-iconic title. The change from First Impressions to Pride and Prejudice was accompanied by revisions that shaped the novel into the timeless classic we know today.
2. The magical number of proposals: three
Proposals play a pivotal role in Austen’s magnum opus and there are exactly three of them in the novel. First, there's Mr Collins's unforgettable proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, which she firmly rejects. The second proposal comes from Mr Darcy, who declares his love for Elizabeth but receives a less than enthusiastic response.
"Proposals play a pivotal role in Jane Austen’s magnum opus"
It is only during the third and final proposal, delivered with heartfelt eloquence, that Mr Darcy and Elizabeth find their happy ending. Three proposals, three times the charm!
3. A novel of no secrets: free indirect discourse
Jane Austen's narrative style in the novel is often celebrated for its innovative use of free indirect discourse. This style allows readers to access the innermost thoughts and feelings of the characters.
While Austen's contemporaries relied heavily on direct dialogue and narration, she mastered the art of blending the two, giving readers an unparalleled window into the minds of her characters. So when you are reading Mr Darcy's haughty musings or Elizabeth's witty reflections, you can thank free indirect discourse for the insight.
4. The unseen author: Austen's anonymous masterpiece
Upon its initial publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was credited simply as "By the Author of Sense and Sensibility." At the time, Jane Austen was a relatively unknown author, and this anonymity allowed her to observe the reactions of readers and critics without the weight of her name influencing their perceptions.
"Austen's anonymity allowed her to observe the reactions of readers and critics without her name influencing perceptions"
It is quite the surprise that this masterpiece was initially published incognito, but it speaks to Austen's desire to let her work speak for itself. Her authorship was not made public until after her passing in 1817.
5. The money game: the economics of love
Pride and Prejudice is often seen as a love story, but it is also a novel rooted in economic realism. With marriage as a central theme, the financial aspects of matrimony are frequently discussed.
From Mr Collins's comically pragmatic proposal to Mr Darcy's vast wealth, the characters' economic situations and their choices are integral to the plot. Love may be a driving force, but in the world of Pride and Prejudice, money certainly talks.
6. Social satire: ahead of the norms
Though most swoon over Pride and Prejudice for its themes of romance, the novel also serves as a vehicle for Austen's incisive social commentary. Austen's genius lies in her ability to satirise the constraints and limitations placed on women of her era, and the rigid class system that defined society.
"Austen's genius lies in her ability to satirise the constraints and limitations placed on women of her era"
Her characters, especially Elizabeth Bennet, serve as agents of change, challenging societal norms and pushing against the boundaries that constrict them. This novel is a testament to Austen's keen observations of the manners and customs of her time and her audacious spirit to critique a society that confined her own opportunities as a woman.
7. Timeless influence: transcending time and culture
This timeless classic has transcended its Regency-era origins to become a cherished and enduring part of global literature. Austen's witty social commentary, as well as her exploration of themes such as love, class and human nature, continue to resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds.
In an ever-changing world, Austen's enduring work remains a touchstone for understanding the complexities of relationships and the timeless pursuit of love. Modern works like Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, which reimagines the character of Elizabeth Bennet in a contemporary setting, and the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern adaptation that takes the story to the digital age, showcase the lasting impact of Austen's tale.
Banner credit: Jane Austen (GeorgiosArt)
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
Loading up next...