“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in a want of a wife.”
With one of the most iconic opening lines of all times, Pride and Prejudice is one of the most celebrated classics and rightfully so. With its great and complex plot, a decent dose of comic relief and plenty of suspense, Austen portrays the lives of women in the early 1800s with utmost ease. Austen’s clever observations and dialogue contribute to her brilliance in developing fully formed characters, despite the polite manners throughout. She displays a masterful use of irony, dialogue and realism that support the character development and heighten the experience of reading the novel.
The story is set in England. It involves the Bennets, a well-respected family which lives in a countryside. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five unmarried daughters. They are Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet, with little social graces, has only one aim in life. That is- to get her daughters married to well-off husbands. At that time, a rich and eligible gentleman, Mr. Bingley, is well received into the neighbourhood with his even richer friend, Mr, Darcy. While Mr. Bingley is taken to be a well-mannered and polite gentleman, his friend is considered to be pompous and proud. Mrs. Bennet sets her eyes on Mr. Bingley to get one of her daughters’ married to him. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to Jane (the eldest daughter), Darcy is disdainful of local society and repeatedly clashes with the Bennets’ second daughter, Elizabeth, but ironically begins to like her.
Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham can be said to be the villains. Their introduction brings about difficulties in lives of the Bennets’, particularly the latter who cheats Lydia, the youngest Bennet, into love and runs away and later demands for money for their marriage, so as to avoid notoriety to the Bennet family. Among these events, Elizabeth is proposed by Mr. Darcy and she, ignorant of the truth about him and full of hatred towards him, refuses him coldly. However, she later comes to know the true character of Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy, and regrets her past actions and prejudices.
Elizabeth Bennet though prejudiced is a strong and spirited woman while Fitzwilliam Darcy though proud is an honest man and a great friend. Their story never fails to make the readers envious of their romance. “I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” They are two of the most romantic and memorable characters in the whole of English Literature keeping this novel a favourite even after two centuries since its first copy came out.