This February we come to the 200th Anniversary of Austen seminal piece of work Pride & Prejudice. We seem to be at a time when Austen’s appeal may be somewhat wavering. Her fragile popularity has been put down to multiple factors. It has been said that the world in which she lived poses no relevance to the present one, leaving readers isolated. Fundamentally, all her plots are different variations of desperate girl attempting to tie the knot and she seems to ignore her external contemporary world despite the historical background of the Napoleonic Wars. While we are certainly no longer in a time when a gentleman would stand up when a woman enters the room and can currently purchase a book entitled Why have kids?, it seems that her appeal as a realist no longer holds any weight.
While I understand all of these points, it can’t be denied that Pride and Prejudice continues to be a plot, which we are more than willing to go see in its newest adaptation? BBC and Hollywood have both taken gander at this infamous plot and rolled in big money, and even bigger fans.
Perhaps the ideal behind this story is that despite all our scepticism we still are dying to be swept off our feet. Why wouldn’t you want a man to stand up when you enter the room (or even hold a door for you while you’re bogged down with multiple text books)? Is there not an undeniable appeal in being the person that changed your partner for the better? (If your answer to the last answer is no, then you are never allowed to sing along to Wonderwall again.)
It is far too easy to replace the sentiment and romance with cynicism and suspicion, but underneath all of the “Has he come calling?” and rules of propriety, there is a love story that can appeal even to the coldest of heart.
While there is an undeniable merit in all of Austen’s works, we thought Austen, like many others before her, should certainly at least have the right to be made fun of. While not proper and bordering on indecent we do mean all of the below summaries in true old-fashioned jest. Enjoy!
The eponymous heroine, a spoiled girl with inflated ideas of her own intelligence, meddles in the love life of a chosen victim and fails spectacularly at every given opportunity. After a couple of half assed attempts at courting elsewhere, she eventually falls for a man just shy of twice her age, and all other couples fall suspiciously neatly into place in time for the end.
A girl with an unfortunate name is sent to live with rich family members she isn’t fond of, and watches a playboy play her cousins off against each other, until her rejection of him for doing so causes him to fall in love with her. She tells him where to stick it, as she fancies her cousin who is courting playboy’s sister. Adulterous shenanigans occur between playboy and married cousin, approved by playboy’s sister, and main character gets cousin after all.
Penniless country girl gets a free ride to Bath with a childless couple, and befriends a substantially wealthy pair of siblings who invite her back to their Abbey home. A fan of Gothic literature, the main character imagines up a backstory for the siblings’ scary dad that reads like a Jane Eyre rip off, which his son disabuses her of, and then she gets chucked out by scary dad for being poor. She goes home, pines for the son, and he miraculously arrives to ask her to marry him.
Spinster middle child regrets being persuaded to break off an engagement with the guy she fancied. They meet again, and her ex-beau is still holding a grudge 8 years later, so he tries to make her jealous by attaching himself to her sisters-in-law. This doesn’t work. More side characters turn up so they can be paired off with other side characters. Main character makes a speech about love and ex-beau gets over himself and asks her to marry him again.
Sense and Sensibility:
Two sisters, one with some sense and one with none, move in with their mother after their father dies. Senseless crushes on a charismatic gentleman who spurns her and marries someone wealthy, while her sister likes a man who is engaged. However, his fiancée chooses his brother over him when he’s cut off, so the two end up together regardless. Senseless ends up marrying a serious but nice guy after nearly dying because she was being an idiot.
Pride and Prejudice:
There are five sisters: Pretty, Spirited, Plain, Daft and Bratty, in that order, that their mother is desperate to marry off. Two rich guys turn up. Nice rich guy likes the pretty sister, snarky rich guy does not. Spirited sister dislikes snarky rich guy. Rich guys leave. Spirited meets Snarky again later. Snarky proposes; Spirited says no. Bratty sister runs off with officer. Snarky wins spirited over by catching the two. Snarky and Spirited marry. So do Nice and Pretty.
Not actually by Jane Austen that consistently gets mistaken for a Jane Austen book, due to confusion over multiple persons called Jane. Actually by Charlotte Brontë, and worth a read purely for the wife in the attic.
Words by Camela Cuison and Jordan Burke