Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen in 1870Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) is one of the most beloved and most widely read novelists in English literature, known for her masterful use of free indirect speech, biting social commentary, burlesque and irony. In a number of surveys Pride and Prejudice came first in top lists of the best books ever written. Two major movie versions are made in 1940 starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, and in 2005 starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. The plot summary follows.

The trailer for the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie version

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet live in the Longbourn estate, a rural district near London with their five unmarried daughters. When a wealthy young gentleman, Charles Bingley, occupies the nearby estate, Mrs. Bennet sees an opportunity for her daughters. Her husband visits Mr. Bingley before any other neighbors, on the first day of his arrival.

Pride and Prejudice Movie PosterAt the next social gathering, Bingley brings along his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Bingley is immediately attracted to the gentle and modest Jane Bennet. Darcy is proud, disagreeable and rude, he refuses to dance with Elizabeth Bennet and negatively comments on her looks. Elizabeth develops a strong prejudice against Darcy. At the next public ball, Darcy asks Elizabeth for a dance, but she refuses, avenging the earlier insult.

Bingley and Jane continue to be attracted to each other, and Bingley's sister invites Jane for a visit. She falls ill and Elizabeth comes to look after her sister, but she is forced to confront Darcy, approaching him with sarcasm and wit. He is charmed by her frankness.

A music video: Patience - Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy's love story.

William Collins, the relative who will inherit the estate of Longbourn, visits the Bennets, disgusting everyone with his pompous manners. He makes a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth, who rejects him. Then he proposes to her friend Charlotte, who accepts him, and Mrs. Bennet is distressed by the lost opportunity.

Bingley soon unexpectedly departs for London, and Jane is disappointed. Elizabeth meets a young officer, Mr. Wickham, and is foolishly drawn to him, she almost falls in love. Wickham, however, soon marries Miss King.

Greer Garson in Ppride and Prejudice, 1940Months later, Elizabeth visits the Collinses and meets Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy, Catherine's nephews. Darcy takes interest in Elizabeth, he tracks her down and proposes marriage, but she refuses, citing his treatment of Wickham and Jane, and they argue fiercely. Darcy leaves heartbroken and angry. Next day he gives her a letter, that answers all her accusations and exposes Wickham as a gambler who secretly courted Darcy's sister, Georgiana, to obtain her inheritance.

Pride and Prejudice 1940 trailer

Elizabeth takes a trip to Darcy's estate, she is surprised at its wealth and from his housekeeper hears only good things about Darcy. Then she accidentally bumps into him. He invites her to meet his sister. When Elizabeth learns that her youngest sister Lydia has run away with Wickham, she tells the news to Darcy before returning home. They heard that Mr. Gardiner discovered the pair in London, and that they will be married.

Jane soon accepts Bingley's marriage proposal, after he and Darcy return to Netherfield. At dawn, Elizabeth goes walking on the moors and meets Darcy, who admits his continued love. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal. Elizabeth assures Mr. Bennet of her love to Darcy, and he gives his consent.

Ppride and Prejudice - the BookDuring her lifetime, Austen's books brought her only a few positive reviews, they were published anonymously, and her work was admired only by a literary elite. Almost 200 years after it was written, Pride And Prejudice is now probably the most popular novel in English literature. The whole text of the book is now in the public domain, you can download it here.

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