The Lack of “Reality” in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” ~ Does It Matter? + a Giveaway

The Lack of “Reality” in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” ~ Does It Matter? + a Giveaway

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we often think of the story as being a depiction of the Regency era. But does it truly speak to the time? If so, would not Elizabeth Bennet be more sensitive to her family’s situation? Our heroine turns down two proposals, both of which would “save” her family. Is that realistic? Most of us who love this story consider Elizabeth Bennet a responsible, reasonable, pragmatic and mature young lady. Yet, Elizabeth’s actions prove her to be more like her father: self-centered and casually indifferent. 

Even if none of her other sisters found husbands, Elizabeth could have secured their futures with the acceptance of either Mr. Collins, who is set to inherit Longbourn, or Mr. Darcy, who owns one of the largest estates in England. Naturally, for us readers, we can never imagine our independent Miss Elizabeth with a buffoon of Mr. Collins’s nature, but should she not know a twinge of regret at having failed her family or displayed a bit of sympathy for her mother’s nerves at knowing disappointment. Obviously, Mrs. Bennet, and likely Mary and perhaps Kitty will be left without a home once Collins assumes control of Longbourn. If Elizabeth had married Collins, he would have been duty bound to provide for her mother and her unmarried sisters. Instead, Elizabeth has a jolly laugh, led on by her father, and at Mr. Collins’s expense and Mrs. Bennet’s chagrin. 

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“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. — Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs. Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively disappointed.

giphy After Mr. Darcy’s proposal, Elizabeth later attacks the man with a litany of his shortcomings: haughtiness, disdain for others, interference in Bingley and Jane’s courtship, open disapproval of her family, and his insults directed to others about her. 

And I might as well inquire why, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your better judgment. If I was uncivil, then that is some excuse. But I have other reasons, you know I have.

What reasons?

Do you think anything might tempt me to accept the hand of the man who has ruined, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister? Do you deny that you separated a young couple who loved each other, exposing your friend to censure of the world for caprice and my sister to derision for disappointed hopes, involving them both in misery of the acutest kind?

Darcy’s has his many faults; there is no denying them. The thing we readers love about him is he is willing to change for the woman he loves. Yet, even with the multitude of his shortcomings, would not it be more realistic (although not as romantic) for Elizabeth, at least, to pause and consider his offer of marriage? In the wealth-obsessed culture depicted in Pride and Prejudice, should not a hesitation exist if this is true to the society of the time? Given at this point in the story, her family is out on their collective keisters if something happens to Mr. Bennet, should not Elizabeth think about her mother and sisters. After all, Collins has married Charlotte Lucas, eliminating all chances of a Bennet sister to become the next mistress of Longbourn, and Mr. Bingley has been persuaded to abandon Jane Bennet, dashing any hopes of a wealthy husband in the form to save them. 

That being said, Elizabeth Bennet does not belong to reality. She is a “romantic” character. Therefore, she does ignore the peril in which her family exists, as do the readers. We would not wish to look upon our heroine as a Gold Digger. Otherwise, the readers might question the depth of their true love when Darcy and Elizabeth finally come together at the novel’s end. In a romance, there is always some form of “happily ever after (HEA).” 

 Romance-Literary Devices tells us, “Etymologically, romance comes from Anglo-Norman and Old French romanz, which means a story of chivalry and love. The word “romance” also refers to romantic love. As far as literature in concerned, the term has an entirely a different concept. It means romantic stories with chivalrous feats of heroes and knights. Romance describes chivalry and courtly love, comprising stories and legends of duty, courage, boldness, battles, and rescues of damsels in distress…. Romanticism is a specific movement and period in English literature during which poems, stories, and novels related to Romantic ideas were created. William Wordsworth, P. B. Shelly, Lord Byron, and John Keats are some of the most famous poets and writers of the Romantic period.”

prideprejudiceIn Pride and Prejudice, it is those crude characters who represent the farce—the comedic buffoonery—who speak of money and think money will solve all their woes. The novel parades the comedic characters across page after page. We have Mr. Collins, who definitely leads the way. He has good company in Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Anne de Bourgh, Lydia Bennet, Mary Bennet, Sir William Lucas, Caroline Bingley, Louisa Hurst, Mr. Hurst, and Kitty Bennet. The villain, Mr. Wickham, is absolutely obsessed with the idea of money. He goes from Georgiana Darcy’s dowry to the one belonging to Miss King to an elopement with Lydia Bennet to force Darcy into paying him off to save the foolish girl’s reputation, as well as the reputations of all the Bennet sisters. These characters all worry about their financial prospects.

prideprejudicejaneJane Bennet and Charles Bingley are our Cinderella and Prince Charming types. Their personalities are too good to be true. Jane and Bingley forgive Caroline’s and Darcy’s attempts to keep her and Bingley apart. There is nothing of realism in their relationship. They are less comedic than the ones mentioned above, but certainly there is something of silliness about their relationship. 

Only Darcy and Elizabeth come close to realism, and that is because they both possess their faults, prominent among them is “pride” and “prejudice.” Yet, even with the weaknesses in their character, readers identify with them. There are the romantic elements, separated from the satiric ones. Elizabeth earns the love of a superior man because she is the “superior” Bennet sister. All is well that ends well. Although Collins will one day inherit Longbourn, no one doubts Darcy and Bingley will join forces to see to the comfort of Mrs. Bennet and any unmarried Bennet daughters. The estate may be lost to the conventions of the day, but the people will not suffer greatly. We have our happy ending, which is not realistic or true to form, but is desired by human kind, for we cannot exist without hope for a better tomorrow. 

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MY WRITING JOURNEY: Of late, I have had several questions about what I am currently writing. I have not released a book since December 2017. In truth, I am a bit behind (eye surgery followed by the flu, which turned into bronchitis, which turned into pneumonia, but I will have several releases during the last half of the year. I have two Regency Christmas novellas, one each in two separate anthologies. “Letters from Home” brings together a wounded soldier and the woman whose letters to another man kept him alive. “Lady Joy and the Earl” finds a pair of middle-aged lovers who were denied marriage by their parents when they were young. I have a JAFF piece arriving late July or early August. “Where There’s a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There’s a Way” places Darcy in the role of executor of Mr. Bennet’s estate. It has a lighter touch than some of my books. Finally, “The Heartless Earl” will arrive in November or December. It is another Regency romantic suspense. Moreover, I am finishing up book 3 of the Twins’ trilogy (see below). “Lady Chandler’s Sister” has Sir Alexander Chandler meeting his match with his supposed wife’s twin sister, Alana Pottinger. So save your pennies. LOL!

GIVEAWAY: Now for the giveaway, in preparation of the upcoming release of Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy, I have three eBook copies (reader’s choice) of either Book 1, Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep or Book 2, The Earl Claims His Comfort. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Saturday, May 26. The winners will be announced on Saturday, June 2. Good luck!!! 

 

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy [2013 SOLAs Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance; 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense; 2017 finalist Derby Award for Fiction]

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1124152083?ean=2940157001612

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/angel-comes-to-the-devil-s-keep

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652912

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Comes-Devils-Regina-Jeffers/dp/1626945039/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1470483869&sr=8-2&keywords=angel+comes+to+the+devil%27s+keep

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Comes-Devils-Regina-Jeffers-ebook/dp/B01JTK0EJS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470483946&sr=8-1&keywords=angel+comes+to+the+devil%27s+keep#navbar

Black Opal Books http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/blackopalstore/angel-comes-to-the-devils-keep

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JTK0EJS#nav-subnav

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/angel-comes-to-the-devils-keep-regina-jeffers/1124152083?ean=2940157001612

 

The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy [2016 Hot Prospects Award Finalist in Romantic Suspense]

Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot on the road and left to die. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how Frederick Troutman’s life parallels his while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.

Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/1626947457/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1505774153&sr=8-2&keywords=the+earl+claims+his+comfort

Black Opal Books https://black-opal-books.myshopify.com/products/the-earl-claims-his-comfort

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-earl-claims-his-comfort-regina-jeffers/1127101127?ean=2940158592270

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-earl-claims-his-comfort

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Earl-Claims-His-Comfort-ebook/dp/B075B323MN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505561066&sr=8-1&keywords=the+earl+claims+his+comfort

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-earl-claims-his-comfort-regina-jeffers/1127101127?ean=9781626947450

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746890

26 Responses to The Lack of “Reality” in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” ~ Does It Matter? + a Giveaway

  1. I really enjoyed this article. I like P&P, but I always considered Elizabeth very prejudiced (of, course), inconsiderate (outlined nicely in your article), selfish and even cruel (she and her father constantly ridicule others, especially family). Did she ever DO anything to help anyone? She and Darcy are a romantic notion and everyone loves a happy ending – that’s why I read romances. But, P&P just seems to miss it a little – even Darcy’s letter is more making excuses for destroying Bingley and Jane’s courtship and whining about Wickham.

    I hope you are feeling better, and I am eagerly looking forward to your new books, especially Letters from Home. Your Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion is my absolute favorite! Persuasion has always been my favorite Austen novel, and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED reading it from his perspective (I not only purchased the book, but also the Audible edition).

    Keep up your lovely writing – you are one of my favorites! Be healthy.

    • In many ways, Elizabeth is as mean spirited as several other characters in P&P. The thing that sets her apart is being redeemable. Nowadays, women like to read stories of how a good woman can redeem the perpetual “bad boy.” Harlequin has built an empire around this trope. In Pride and Prejudice, a good man, in the form of a reticent Mr. Darcy, manages to bring an essentially good woman to a better understanding. Elizabeth has had no role models for how best to proceed: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are toxic, in many ways. Mrs. Bennet has given all her daughters too much latitude.

      If you have not so previously, you may like to read Paisley James’s take on Mr. Darcy’s letter. You can find her piece HERE: https://austenauthors.net/of-love-letters-and-letters-of-love/

  2. That was a very interesting article. I admit that I escape reality when I read the books I read. Men who remain romantic into their old age: I have not seen that in my life. So the books which give me romance through the ages in epilogues are my food. Men who change for their love of a woman – have not seen that either. So give me the Fitzwilliam Darcys and the Jamie Frasers or even the John Thorntons. So keep on writing. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What interesting insight! Thanks so much for sharing it. I do hope you are feeling better. And don’t enter me into the giveaway as I already have the first two of the series. I look forwarding to reading the next!

  4. I enjoyed reading your analysis of P&P, Regina. You always bring a new perspective in understanding my favourite novel. Thank you for enlightening us on what you’re writing on these days. I hope you are feeling better already.

  5. I’m with Elizabeth all the way over her rejection of Mr Collins. I just can’t imagine her with him. However Darcy? I suppose he was insulting and wrong about Jane and she mistakenly thought he was cruel to Wickham but……….. he is exceedingly handsome and everyone has a little flaw or two 🙂 🙂 🙂
    I’m so sorry you have had such a hard time of it healthwise and hope you are all better now.
    Please don’t enter me in the giveaway as I’m sorry but I’m still obsessed with D&E. I’m so looking forward to your story about Darcy being the executor of Mr Bennet’s will which will definitely be on my list. (And if I do go back to reading other books these will be top of the list)
    Thanks for this post Regina and take care.

    • Tales of Darcy and Elizabeth are my favs to write, but every once in a while, I need to clear my throat and talk of something similar (Regency), while being different.

  6. So glad you are feeling better Regina. Don’t include me in the give-a-way as I already have both books and loved them. I am looking forward to the third book in the series. Blessings on the launch of your work later this year.

  7. I am glad you are feeling better. It’s tough for us to know what was realistic 200 years ago. I’m sure someone must have done some research on contemporaneous accounts of the book. I have seen articles on what her family wrote about the book, but not on random readers. Interesting thought!

    • Glad you could join me today, Charlene. There are parts of Elizabeth’s personality which would not make sense in the real world, but that is why we call it “fiction.” LOL!

  8. Your post certainly gives one a lot to ponder. Money, the root of all evil…Elizabeth may have been selfish in not marrying Mr. Collins, but by not respecting her spouse, she would have had a marriage like her parents, something she knew she couldn’t live with. As for refusing Mr. Darcy, anger in the moment took over after his insulting proposal and even if she didn’t receive his letter, one, I think, she would come to regret refusing. It’s funny how I (we) think of them as real people, not characters in book. But Jane Austen was such a keen observer of human nature, I sometimes wonder if she knew of others who did marry where their family wanted and saw how unhappy they were. Thus she wrote a story that would give her heroine the man best suited for her after both were properly humbled and grew from what they learned.

    Sorry to hear how ill you have been and that the rest of the year ahead is one that is more healthy. I am excited to hear about all your books coming out this year! Looking forward to book 3 in your trilogy! Please do not enter me in the giveaway, as I have read and loved the first two!!

    • Thank you for your insights, Carole. I am always pleased to hear from you.
      Austen does have us thinking of Darcy and Elizabeth as real people, does she not. What we see is if Elizabeth was half as practical as she claimed to be, she would have thought through her refusal of both Collins and Darcy, but especially Darcy. She could not be insensible to the situation in which her family found themselves.

  9. If P&P was ‘real life’ Elizabeth would have had to marry Collins to save her family and rightly so, but then Mrs Bennet may have directed Collins towards Jane first

    • I always thought that Mrs. Bennet would not have assumed Bingley would come around. The old “a bird in the hand” adage would have compelled Jane to marry Collins. Moreover, Elizabeth was not Mrs. Bennet’s favorite daughter. The lady could not be certain that Elizabeth would have invited her mother to stay at Longbourn rather than to put her in a small nearby cottage. Jane would have been more agreeable.

  10. Thank you for the insightful article, Regina 🙂 I have not had the opportunity to read a book in this series yet and greatly appreciate the chance to win one.

    • Glad you enjoyed the piece, Virginia. Thanks for commenting on it. I am always nit-picking every bit of information I can decipher in Austen’s works, but especially, in Pride and Prejudice.

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