some brief thoughts on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

originally published in 1813

Pride and Prejudice is a lovelier, funnier, and more confident book than Sense and Sensibility and I certainly enjoyed it much more than its predecessor. Very glad to have finally read this one and I’m just as charmed by Lizzy Bennet as most readers have been for centuries. I still feel like I’m missing something though, I must confess. While I chalked up some of my Sense and Sensibility apathy to that book’s relative messiness and immaturity, Pride and Prejudice is inarguably an air-tight work–and yet, one that I can’t say I loved reading from start to finish. I’m not sure what this is. I don’t get on with Austen’s writing style as well as I do with other classic authors but I’m also wondering if the stakes in her books are simply too low for me–this is a personal taste thing, not a criticism. Stay tuned for more installments of me articulating my muddled thoughts on Austen over the next few months. 

18 thoughts on “some brief thoughts on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  1. I must confess to still not having read any Austen 🙊 But what you said about the stakes feeling really low is exactly what keeps putting me off! I worry I’ll find it all a bit too pedestrian. I really should give her a chance though tbf 👀

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  2. Totally hear you. Writing is phenomenal, satire is biting, characters are nuanced, but the stakes are so low!! Usually. P&P is probably a higher stakes one because all of those girls will be destitute if they don’t marry and marry well!

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    • Noooo don’t say that, I still have 3 books to go, I’ll never survive if P&P has the highest stakes! I mean, these are obviously still worth reading I just… need you to give me a lil more, Jane.


  3. My feeling with Austen is that the stakes are extremely high for the characters, but not for the readers. Happiness, marriage, solvency – this stuff is high-stakes for twenty-first century people, too! We just frame and discuss it differently, because social interactions take place differently.

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      • No no I vibe with your line of thinking! That’s a GREAT distinction actually, that the stakes are higher for the characters than the reader, I should be conscious of that in the way I talk about this. That’s also a good point that marriage isn’t exactly devoid of stakes even now. I’m sure part of it is just genre conventions (and the cultural saturation of this story in particular) — you know Lizzy and Jane both end up married so it removes some of that urgency felt by the characters themselves. And to Austen’s credit she communicates that urgency quite well, I just have a hard time feeling it.


  4. Oh I am quite surprised with this rating. I am really looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on Austen (I’ve read P&P and loved it, and I’ve read Emma and hated it). But yay, so glad you liked this one (I personally love it)!

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  5. If it helps, you’re not alone. I’ve read a few of Austen’s works over the years and always been left with a sort of “That’s it?” feeling. I can appreciate her place in literary history but she doesn’t do anything for me personally.

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    • It does help!!! I’m perfectly content to not be an Austen person, it’s just crazy how outnumbered I am! 😂 I can’t think of any other classic author who’s loved with the same universal reverence in the book community, I find it fascinating!

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  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! It makes so much sense about the stakes now that you say that. In most of her books the stakes are quite low. Although the storyline for Lydia in this book is arguably extremely high stakes for her and her family, because the risk of destitution and poverty is very real for the characters. And whilst we don’t explore Charlotte Lucas’s storyline that much, it’s one that I find fascinating because if she hadn’t found a husband then, after her parents died, she’d have suffered greatly. But those tensions are almost behind the scenes. I wonder if they felt more urgent at the time they were written?

    If higher stakes get you more involved though, I can see why Austen isn’t for you though. I’m thinking through them now and, other than perhaps Mansfield Park, the main dangers for our principal characters are sadness and broken hearts. Although Mansfield Park is generally not well liked, so I’m sure most people would disagree with me there!

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    • (Sorry for the late comment!)

      Someone else commented here with the distinction that the stakes are high for the characters but not the reader, which I 100% agree with and should have specified in my review, and Lydia’s a perfect example of that. I mean, it’s true for all the women in this book really; marriage can be high-stakes even now and especially was back then, but I think the genre works against it for me–you know the characters are going to end up married and happy and it removes some of the urgency for me as a reader.

      I’m about to start Mansfield Park and honestly the fact that it’s the one no one likes makes me think I might love it 😅


      • Oh that’s such a good distinction! And you’re right in that it’s Austen, so you know a happy ending is on the cards.
        I hope you get on with Mansfield. Lots of people’s main criticism is that the main character is weak and uninteresting, but I have the complete opposite opinion. Many are also dissatisfied with the ending, which I completely understand but that somehow makes it more compelling for me. I’ll be interested to read your thoughts!


  7. I am so glad you liked this one more than Sense and Sensibility! Wholeheartedly concur. And while I did love reading this one, I think I know what you mean about feeling that something is missing and the stakes being low- I tend to enjoy the experience of reading an Austen novel, but as much fun as I have with them in the moment none of them are anywhere near my favorites list nor is Austen herself a favorite author for me, despite very much admiring her writing. P&P is good, but, dare I say…. overhyped. Looking forward to the rest of your Austen thoughts!


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