Pride And Prejudice: Overrated

Satire is a style which helps us to reflect on the ills of our society. It makes us sit up and take notice of things that we might have otherwise taken for granted. Satire pokes fun while also eliciting an engaging response from the audience. It reveals a picture of things which we know exists but often ignore. It is undoubtedly a powerful tool to attack the system or simply the way things are or are taken for granted.

This is the style which Jane Austen also employs in her famous novel ‘Pride And Prejudice.’ Austen gives to her reader a delightful, detailed account of upper middle and middle class lives, their hypocrisy, artificiality and preoccupation with marriage. Simultaneously, she also lightly satirizes all these aspects, but unfortunately the satire is so subtle that it is invisible so that the novel appears nothing more than an interesting love story.

In a line, ‘Pride And Prejudice‘ is a story of the Bennetts’ rather mama Bennett’s measures to get her daughters married in good, respectable houses much like ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ or the plot lines of numerous of our own soap operas. However, the novel lacks the exuberance and comedy of the film/musical. The novel is really nothing more than that one line description. While numerous critics have upheld the novel as a good satire, lauded her writing style and attention to detail, I beg to differ. The critics are spot on about the last two aspects but the first one is laughable (no pun intended). The fact that Austen is mocking artificial pretensions of decorum and niceties is overshadowed by the marriage factor of the novel. It is the overriding theme of the plot and her satire or mocking tone just isn’t enough to gloss over that. Austen doesn’t do justice to her satirical technique. The book rather than making fun of marriage, endorses it grandly as being the sole aim if a girl’s life.

Pride And Prejudice‘ is an enjoyable read, nonetheless. But it really does not promote any revolutionary ideas about womanhood or marriage as many critics have diligently pointed out over the years. It is a light read, an ordinary love story with intricate detail and good writing but not good ideas. Enjoy the story, the characters, the relationships, the scandals but don’t expect ‘Pride And Prejudice‘ to change your ideas about marriage and other things that are stereotypically associated with it.

4 thoughts on “Pride And Prejudice: Overrated

  1. Pride and Prejudice (P&P) has a very Indian plot, if you know what I mean. I quite agree with your point that it is an enjoyable and entertaining read, rather than one that puts forth revolutionary ideas. I would actually put this book and Jane Eyre and other similar books as Victorian era Mills and Boon !

    But I do not agree with your comparison of P&P with the “Fiddler on the Roof”. Mothers wanting their children to make good marriages is a universal theme, so in that sense Mrs. Bennet and Golde are similar. But that’s where the similarity ends – the central theme for both are otherwise, quite different.

    • Yes, it does have a very Indian plot. However, I wouldn’t put Jane Eyre in the category of mills and boons because it is far more better written with a better plot and a lot of scope of literary analysis.
      The comparison with Fiddler on the Roof was just something that popped in my mind when I was writing the post.I do agree that Fiddler on the roof is much more than just marriage.

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