There are not many people out there who do not know the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Their love story is about as famous as Romeo and Juliet. Darcy is also considered the prototype of the man that every woman wants – strong, silent, good-looking. But I wonder how many people have actually read the book…..
Pride and Prejudice is the story of five sisters, Jane, Elizabeth Mary, Kitty and Lydia, living the upper middle-class life of the landed gentry during the Napoleonic War where the one thing on everyone’s mind is marriage. But when a few chance encounters bring a series of men within the Bennet sisters’ reach will they decide to marry for society’s gratification or will they decide to marry for love? And will the men they choose accept them?
There are a number of films that feature the story-line of Pride and Prejudice some with the same or variations of the characters but all with the same basic plot. I think the most famous of all Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley in the role of Elizabeth Bennet. I’ve seen the film once or twice but to be perfectly honest I didn’t think much of it.
A way better version of Pride and Prejudice, I think, is not actually a film but a series of extended programmes that the BBC created starring the rather hunky Collin Firth as Mr Darcy and Julia Sawalha (who played the daughter in Absolutely Fabulous) as Lydia Bennet. The reason I like this version of Pride and Prejudice so much better than the other is because it is so much closer to the original book. I started by watching the series and had watched it several times before reading the book and I noticed sections where the dialogue in the series had been exactly the dialogue in the book. The characters are also exactly as you expect them to be – Mrs Bennet is irritating, Mr Bennet is the greatest mixture of wit and irony, Jane is simply sweet and pretty, Mary’s dull in every way and Elizabeth has beauty without it being outright. All in all, the series is an accurate and beautifully filmed representation of the novel.
If you’re interested in the addition of a touch of flair and some great dance numbers into Jane Austen’s world there is of course the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice called Bride and Prejudice. While the story-line is basically the same, the setting is now the vibrant and modern worlds of India, London and California. This time there are four girls not five (because Mary and Kitty have been combined into one character) and indeed a few of the less necessary characters have been removed while some characters have changed roles (like SPOILER Lady Catherine who is Darcy’s mother not his aunt in the Bollywood version and Ann who is not his cousin but his girlfriend). Even though the names of the characters have changed and the story has been modernised and given an Indian flair it’s still a great movie with a beautiful love story. I must say though that while Martin Henderson who plays Darcy gives an adequate amount of good-looks to his character, Aishwarya Rai as Lilita (Elizabeth) puts her co-star Namrata Shirodkar who plays Jaya (Jane) to shame because she’s just too pretty!! (But what can we expect from a former Miss World?)
In My Humble Opinion:
As I have said, I watched the series of Pride and Prejudice (I also watched Bride and Prejudice) long before I actually picked up the book to read it. And when I did I felt a little daunted. Certainly the series was a long one. There were four episodes but they were about an hour each. That’s four hours which is rather long if you think that most movies are around two hours long. But, I didn’t expect the book to be as long as it was with thirty-something chapters. If you too are feeling daunted now, don’t worry. Actually, the book isn’t that arduous to read and those thirty-something chapters are easy to get through. Of course being a book which somewhat critisises the society that Jane Austen lived in, the book is not like a page-turners – you know the ones you can’t put down because you have to know it the character makes it. Pride and Prejudice is an easy read that is great for a day by the pool where all you want to do is sit and read until you doze.
Before I started reading Pride and Prejudice my logical mind kept asking the question I posed above: who is proud and who is prejudiced? I thought as the story concerned Darcy and Elizabeth each of them had to have one of the two characteristics. Was Elizabeth proud and Darcy prejudiced or was Darcy proud and Elizabeth prejudiced? It was a fair question especially since I write and have to come up with titles myself that are evocative.
As I watched the series I thought I had the answer: Elizabeth openly questions Darcy about pride while Darcy accuses Elizabeth of willfully misunderstanding people so Darcy had to be proud and Elizabeth prejudiced. But, after reading the novel I came to the realisation that neither character has that one outstanding characteristic. They both have equal amounts of both. They both are proud – too proud to admit their feelings for one another – and they are both prejudiced against one another and the society they keep. The other characters also exhibit pride and prejudice but Darcy and Elizabeth are the most proud and prejudiced of all especially towards each other.
This is what makes Pride and Prejudice such a great love story. It’s that both characters have this pride and prejudice against each other and yet are still able to surmount these difficulties and fall in love. Reading Pride and Prejudice gives us all hope that we too may find that one person worth fighting with and for if we haven’t already found them.
If you’re longing for a hopeful love story read Pride and Prejudice and fall in love with Mr Darcy too.