Chick Lit Review #2: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Some may be horrified at this blasphemous use of the “chick lit” term to describe one of the greatest literary classics, but I insist on the appropriateness of it all. My actually reading the book is another story altogether—aside from the first time I did in high school, going through page after page of what seemed to be standard regency romance was something I didn’t want to do during my lunch break. So I decided to read the book during one long rainy weekend, and again got lost in the universe so uniquely Austen.

The story, really, is largely about the culture as dictated by the society of 19th century England—including desirable and frowned-upon manners, proper education, upbringing, and wealth—but also tackles the situation of women, particularly the single ones. Classic chick lit premise, right? Of course, the presence of both ideal and stereotypical female characters is standard, like in most chick lit novels, and the ultimate issue at hand is about marriage. The list of characters even reads like a soap opera, with conflicts evident in their mere relationships: the frivolous mother, more than eager to marry off her daughters to the highest bidder; a bevy of women whose concerns regarding beauty, marriage, and love are often laughable yet completely realistic; the duel between beauty and power, between love and social acceptance among families; the necessary inclusion of men whose goals simply lie within their capacity in terms of wealth and social standing as a prerequisite to choose a partner; and the refreshing voice of a young woman who refuses to conform to the social conventions of her time. Elizabeth Bennet, often seen as Austen’s alter ego, kept her personal values intact—thus resulting in the happy ending with the legendary Mr. Darcy.

But what I think makes the story more significant to me (in the context of this blog) is the fact that the freakouts and horrors regarding family and marriage have changed so little; sure, we’ve got more independent-minded single women but the well-meaning moms will remain forever frantic and worried about their daughters turning into old maids. And what about the men? Let’s just say the book’s opening line has evolved from its original context: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Because he might want a boyfriend. Or a FUBU. Or just a companion. See, this thing about men and their choices have long been accepted in any form or persuasion. What about us girls? I for one would like to see that first line turned around to say: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, is quite happy to be with a husband, friends, or just by herself.


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"It's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes--that's why you sometimes need really special ones, to make the walk a bit more fun."

- Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
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Should be making reports and presentations but would rather go shopping in Greenbelt.

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