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The Complete Jane Austen "Pride and Prejudice" by Kristen Hammond

Masterpiece Classic

by Kristen Hammond

As I lounged on my couch watching Pride & Prejudice for probably the 200th time, I suddenly noticed the similarities between Jane Austen's characters and the men I met during my online dating heyday. I don't know why it never hit me before today. Not that Pride & Prejudice is full of losers, or anything.

Mr. Collins

What catches your eye when you receive his email is that you and he are from the same small town. Somehow from your profile he has figured this information out. You check out his profile picture which is very, very fuzzy and out of focus but he doesn't look too awful. You wonder about the fuzziness of the picture since it is 2008 and every single camera has auto focus. You email him back and wonder of all wonders, it turns out your mothers were sorority sisters in college.

Mr. Collins.jpg Odd thing is, Mr. Collins lives 100 miles away. Apparently he is taking the wide net approach to online dating. You would normally blow him off but now you feel obligated because of your mother's connection to his mother. You two finally meet when Mr. Collins comes into town for a Subway franchise manager's conference. Mr. Collins makes a decent enough living owning a Subway franchise and according to his district manager who has his back, he may even get another Subway soon. He is having difficulty getting over a 10 year long distance relationship with a lovely girl from Russia whom he never met in real life. By the end of the date, he asks you what kind of engagement ring you would like. You tell him that you are commitment-phobic, you never really intended to find a meaningful relationship through online dating and that you have to go home and shampoo the cat. He offers to help. You can't seem to shake him. You finally excuse yourself to go to the restroom. The last thing you hear as you are lowering yourself out the bathroom window is Mr. Collins telling the coffee shop girl about his troubles. You overhear later that they ran off to Vegas that weekend to get married.

Mr. Bingley

Mr. Bingley

Mr. Bingley is that trust-fund baby from Connecticut who is now working on Capitol Hill. His dating profile suggests that he is blue blood, but you decide to respond to his email anyway. On your first date, you realize he is altogether too accommodating and cheery. You pawn him off on your sister who falls madly in love.

Mr. Wickham

Mr. Wickham.gif

Wickham lists his occupation on his profile as "self-employed." Having done the online dating thing for 2 whole months, you realize that means he is unemployed. When you meet, he is 30 minutes late but is so attractive and dressed so nicely that you don't even care. Sure he mentions during the first date that he once dated two sisters at one time but even that can't sway you from his beauty.

A pattern begins to emerge. It's not Wickham's fault that he got kicked out of Harvard for that silly prank he and the rest of the frat brothers played on the dean. He used to be a volunteer firefighter but after an incident involving a fire truck and a firehouse party, he is no longer allowed to volunteer. His last job? His boss was a jerk who was jealous of him and got him fired. Always drawn to the bad boys, you are drawn like a moth to the flame. When you get together, you can talk for hours.

He talks about how much money he has but he never actually asks you out to dinner. When you do go out, he always arrives late and leaves promptly at an earlier agreed upon time. It only takes you until the second date to realize that he is "stacking" you with at least one other girl. You figure him out and realize that even with the good conversation, you aren't that interested. You begin to stack him as well. He gets annoyed and is suddenly very, very interested in you. Not a week later, a mutual friend tells you that Wickham and his best friend ran off to Mexico to work at a beach resort. You feel an emotion that can only be described at relief.

Mr. Darcy

You are tabbing through the eligible bachelors in your area one day when Darcy's bio catches your eye. In his profile picture, he is sitting in front of your most very favorite cafe in Paris on the Left Bank. You draft a pithy email and send it on its way. Not 10 minutes later, you get an email back, apologizing for your time. Apparently Darcy's friends decided to put his bio on the online dating site and now he is getting what he terms "unsolicited" emails. He explains that he does not "DO" online dating. His explanation leads you to believe that he thinks anyone who "DOES" online dating is a lesser person.
P&P.jpg

Not three weeks later, your sister tells you that she has the perfect person for you to meet. He is a venture capitalist and just sold his first business for $114 million. She tells you he is friends with Bingley. You two meet at a party and you realize he is Mr. I'm-Too-Good-For-Online-Dating. You blow him off. He is intrigued. You don't care. You proceed to spend the rest of the party flirting with everyone who is not Darcy.

You continue to see him at parties all summer long. He doesn't actually speak to you but you feel him watching you all the time. You can't be bothered with him ever since you heard he outsourced all his work to a foreign company, resulting in layoffs for 50 employees.

Then your sister calls you to tell you how Darcy drove 100 miles to help her after she had a car accident and she couldn't reach anyone else. You realize that he just MIGHT have a soul. Then someone tells you that those 50 employees he laid off? They got a year's severance. You begin to feel slightly bad about being so judgmental. At the next party, he tells you that he can't stop thinking about you. You realize that you really can't stop thinking about him either. You two fall madly in love.

Do you end up living happily ever after with Darcy? Uh, no. You end up marrying the really nice guy sitting down the aisle from you in law school and you have two beautiful baby boys.

The soon to be infamous Jane Austen quote from Miss Austen Regrets... "the only way to get a Mr. Darcy is to make him up." What would you have done with all that money anyway?

Comments

Hilarious. And absolutely true.

I think there were a few more characters that you forgot. Are we to assume that you are Elizabeth?

Too Funny! I could relate to all of those at various points of my life! I couldn't be happier that I ditched Mr. Darcy for Mr. "Brings Me Breakfast In Bed"!!!LOL!

Witty and wonderful! I enjoyed it just as much as your blog :)

this certainly brought me back. I have a sudden urge to get out my Cliff Notes from high school...

The huz keeps trying to talk to me while Masterpiece is on. As for Austen men, it's always been Col. Brandon for me. MaryAnn chose wisely.

Hilarious! I totally adored it and it's true... Sigh, life has too many Wickhams and Collins that when I found a Mr. Darcy I just had to give him the wrong personal info for him to contact me again.

this is adorable! brightened up my day, you did.

who needs mr. darcy anyway. i think your choice was quite lovely. jane austen would be proud.

Bravo! Wonderful analogy ... and now I will spend the rest of the night deciphering who my Mr. Darcy, Bingly, Wickham and Collins were!

So is this blog trying to say that the movie was as superficial and meaningless as modern online dating? I would have to agree. Although I was impressed with some of the verbal jousting and comedy in the movie, and I was cheered when the girls married their men, I was shocked and even disgusted that this movie was for the most part simply a story about women marrying rich men. That this story is popular with women like the blogger is no surprise; that its considered a classic of English literature seems something of a mystery. Maybe the book is much better than the movie. The movie was simply Cinderella for high schoolers.

i've never read austen (i know--you're gasping in horror), but hey, i went to richmond public schools and grew up with parents who had liberal angst about their money--stuff like austen was forbidden. i read ralph ellison and toni morrison as repentance for my father's white wealth. that being said, you make me want to throw caution to the wind and read read read austen!!! liberal angst be damned!

So true...

Mr. Darcy, sigh. Col. Brandon is another good one too. And that is the best line from Miss Austen Regrets.

lakeqi,

Yes, Jane Austen often reads like a soap opera, but remember - authors write about what they know and Jane Austen lived in the time she writes about. Marrying rich was the goal of women. They didn't have the opportunity to go it alone, or necessarily to be choosy in their mates. However, this modern woman who normally grimaces at that the thought of the "gold diggers" who are letting down the side, chooses to enjoy the "Cinderella for high schoolers" charm of Ms. Jane Austen.

All I know is I just float around after watching "Pride and Prejudice" and go to sleep wishing I was born in that era. I do wonder though how happy I would be with "no particular place to go" each day. No one works, they just sit around and read and wait for a gentlemen caller... I would be out riding in the countryside with Mr. Darcy! How wonderful!

Funny. So true about making up Mr. Darcy. There are no frats at Harvard. I guess Wickham lied about even attending, or he would have known.

Jane Austen's people, as well as Shakespeare's and any other character who has stood the test of time can be as real to us today as they were for the authors - the human condition doesn't change, only the props that we use.

Christine,

Yes,

Austen wrote about the protocols of the 19th century gentry/aristocracy because she lived during that time, but that doesn't explain why people today care about it. The only thing that explains it to me is the very primordial desire of women to desire the most wealthy man. This was my first exposure to anything by Austen and I was disappointed that its appeal was so limited. I really found almost nothing there directed towards more universal or substantive themes, there was certainly nothing there for men. The modern fervor over this story reminds me too much of the hysteria we saw when Prince Charles married Lady Di, base and simple anglophilia.This is a story for by woman for woman,and as a man, theres no way I can or want to "get it".

In response to both lakeqi and Christine-
While we may be interested in the concept of aristocracy as a novelty, research has shown that Jane Austen's continuing themes (as occur in Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility) were actually reflective of her life. Not just her perspective on society, but her real life. According to numerous biographies, she was poor because the family fortune was wholly entailed to an eldest son, who was then supposed to provide for his siblings...and didn't. Sound familiar? And she fell in love with a young man (I think named Henry) who was a lawyer - and couldn't marry him because his richer relatives didn't support it. The situation with Lizzie and Mr. Darcy was most likely how she would have ended her own fairytale. Jane Austen never married. Her novels were very autobiographical. We love them because they represent life - no matter what the era, there will always be a Mr. Collins, and there will always be a Mr. Darcy. Although if you do happen to marry one of those, know that you're going to have to train him to do his own laundry and to PUT THE DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER, NOT JUST IN THE SINK.

To lakeqi:

Elizabeth said no to two proposals that would have netted her lots of cash: Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy's first proposal. If she was strictly mercenary, she probably would have accepted Mr. Collins and secured not only her future, but the future of her sisters as well.

She and Darcy are a match because they both grow and mature throughout Pride and Prejudice--Darcy realizes that he's been a jerk, and Elizabeth realizes that she has sorely misjudged him--despite his tendency to shove his feet in his mouth, he's a good guy who acts in what he perceives to be his friend's best interests, is fair to people he loathes, and is willing to accept Elizabeth's less palatable relatives. Yes, the money is fortunate, but my impression of Elizabeth's character is that she wouldn't have married Darcy if she hadn't been in love.

As for the mercenary aspects, doesn't Wickham give his attention to a wealthy girl (Mary King, I think?) since he needs money? I think this happens both ways in Austen--the men are just as apt to marry for wealth as the women. As a pragmatist, she recognized the need for both love and finances to match in a relationship.

Hope this helps, but if you're just not a fan, then probably nothing will convince you

ciao,
lapidary

What lapidiary said. And, yes, the book is better than the film (disclaimer, I haven't seen the recent Hollywood version, just the BBC 1996 adaptation). The great thing about the book is the guarded, judicious use of language. The fun is in reading the subtext of "He/she's rich, why don't you grab him/her?" under the genteel pleasantries.

I love the blog- it is very good! I haven't watched Pride and Prejudice 200 times but I can certainly understand why someone could. I have really enjoyed trying to see all the adaptations possible and so far I still think the BBC 1980 production was the best.
As I understand Pride and Prejudice was Ms. Austen's first Novel, I've read Emma which was good but understand that Pride and Prejudice seems to be the best by all accounts. (I am holding off on seeing Sense and Sensibility until I read the book) Why is it that many authors can never touch the success of the first novel? Is Pride and Prejudice the most autobiographical of Austen? What would you rank 2nd and 3rd in terms Jane Austen's experience being reflected?

I've been watching this, too, and recording all of them for posterity. Academy Awards? No thanks. I've got p&p. I love Mr. Darcy- loved him in Bridget Jones, too. (Hmmm.) Austen's genius is in her portrayal of reality. I remember reading one of her stories and then sitting down to dinner with some guests and realizing that our conversation was echoing the book. yes, her stories have happy endings. But, the unhappy endings are there, ever present.

I thought Pride and Prejudice was her second novel??? Maybe I'm mistaken...

lakeqi and lapidary, I think there are two ways to read the romance between darcy & elizabeth:

1. She demands to be treated with respect and refuses him when he treats her like a jerk, falling for him only when he treats her as she deserves to be treated
2. She begins to fall for him, as she jokes in the movie, "when she saw the grounds at pemberley."

I think Austen purposely lets the reader decide. But I do not think it is as simple as a HS cinderella.

The thing with point #2 (falling in love with him upon first seeing Pemberley) is that she wasn't entirely joking.

She doesn't mean that because the grounds are an outward display of Darcy's wealth though. In the Regency period and around then, the grounds of a stately home like Darcy's were often considered to be a tangible extension of the owner's personality.

If you read through that section of the book and see how struck Lizzy was by the grounds and how they weren't all horribly stiff and formal like she was expecting, and as she has thought Darcy was up until that point, you can how that comment can be true without it meaning she's being mercenary.

Seeing the grounds of Pemberley was like getting a further glimpse inside Darcy's mind. Coupled with the changed Darcy she encounters at Pemberley it's definitely not a joking, throw-away comment there.

Ha! Darcy is totally overrated. Unless he is Colin Firth. Then, yeah, okay, he's Colin Firth. Different conversation.

Ha! Darcy is totally overrated. Unless he is Colin Firth. Then, yeah, okay, he's Colin Firth. Different conversation.

lakeqi,

...a story of women marrying rich men--I think not.

I think we love P&P and all Austen because we see ourselves and/or others in her characters.

Who hasn’t fallen "in love"? Let's face it, we love love. Unless a person has been extremely lucky, he/she has had some heartbreaking relationships along with the good ones.

Who doesn't know a “foolish Lydia" who has fallen glitz over substance?
Or a Mr. Collins who couldn't find a "clue" in a dictionary?
Or a Charlotte who chose “settling” over struggling?
Or a Mr. Willoughby (S&S) whose youthful dalliance has colored the rest of his life?
Or a Mr. Darcy who is caught at a precipice between what he wants and what society dictates that he should want?
Or an Eleanor (S&S) who has fallen in love with someone she can never have because he “belongs” to someone else?

And then there is “poor” Mary Ann (S&S). She reminds one that you only get to fall in love like that ONCE. That is, love completely, blindly, and so unguardedly. No matter whom you fall in love with thereafter, or how much you love that person, a bit of your heart will forever remain cautious. Whether you are man or woman, it is awful to love wisely and too well, then still have things go astray.

The appeal of Austen’s work endures because she captures us—people we know—people we bump up against in life—people we either know of-or-know-about. She captures us with our human goodness and frailties. You probably could take any of her characters and match him/her with someone, past or present, from your own realm.

The happy endings are a great gift. They make everything the characters have gone through beforehand seem worthwhile.

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