It’s crazy to think that it’s 20 years ago this week since the BBC mini-series of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (yup, the adaptation where Colin Firth plays Mr Darcy) first aired. I truly believe this screen-version of P & P is the best one ever. Jennifer Ehle won a BAFTA for her portrayal of the self-assured Elizabeth after all. But more than that, I think that the heroine of the book (and the adaptation) Elizabeth Bennet is a woman we need to listen to. Here’s what I learned from her.
Back in 19th century England ladies couldn’t afford to be too picky. They had to stand on the sidelines waiting to be chosen by a man, waiting for a proposal. But Lizzy Bennet decided early in her adult life that she wouldn’t settle for just any lad. If she was going to marry, she wanted to say ‘I do’ to the right candidate – especially as she had to put up with him for the rest of her life.
She was determined to find herself in love and didn’t care a jot if he had money or not! (Although she realised that the money could come in handy) Lizzy tells her older sister Jane: “I am determined that nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into matrimony.”
Being a realist won’t hold you back
It’s important to have an accurate view of reality. Things were generally pretty bad for girls back in 19th century England, and Lizzy realized it. “The more I see of the world the more I am dissatisfied with it,” she declared. She was well aware that women faced the most trials in life, and had hardly any rights.
Love your sisters
Lizzy comes to her big sister’s rescue when Jane is bed-ridden after catching a frightful cold on her way to Netherfield.
Months later she tells Jane to go to London and get her man. But, when she finds out that it was concealed from Mr Bingley that Jane had been in town, Lizzy is livid! The person that ruined her sister’s chance of happiness just so happened to be the very, very bad Mr Darcy (this move doesn’t do him any favors). These super sisters have really got each other’s backs.
Say what you think
Imagine going your entire life without saying what you really think. Well, I say: be honest just like our main character! When she tells Mr Wickham that everyone she knows is disgusted with Mr Darcy’s pride, she doesn’t give a shit that Mr Darcy is in ear-shot. Don’t be scared to tell it like it is – it’s likely to earn you the respect that you deserve.
This lady stands up against what society expects of her, and she ain’t gonna back down! By declining ridiculous Mr Collins’ offer of marriage, she defies her mom. But she knows there is no way she could fall in love with loony Mr Collins.
Take your Dad’s advice
Mr Bennet is a wise guy who assures her that all will turn out well:“Darcy may turn out to be no more the black-hearted villain than your average rich man who is used to his own way.” Spot on Papa.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Dig a little deeper. Don’t assume or judge his character by his seemingly charming manner. Yup, we’ve established that although Lizzy got a good vibe from the dashing and pleasant Wickham, he turned out to be the rogue.
On her search for one Good Sort Of Man she realised that “one has all the goodness (*cough* – that’ll be Darcy), and one has all the appearance of it.”
It is possible to fall in love with the person you once really disliked
Think about it. You start off by really, really not liking somebody, wondering why they even exist.
Then, remarkably, like Lizzy, you fall in love with that person. Your feelings will be even deeper, and more passionate. And guess what? You’re not as likely to take each other for granted.
It’s important to dream, and allow yourself to believe that your dreams can come true
Don’t just settle for the ordinary. After Mr Darcy’s first unsuccessful proposal to Lizzy, he writes her a letter revealing the truth. Through this she finds out that he is actually a Good Guy and looks at him with fresh eyes.
A lover of the outdoors she becomes enchanted by the woods and groves of Pemberley, his great estate. And eventually delightful Darcy himself! She becomes mistress of a huge mansion and finds herself deeply in love – just like she wished for.
Tina Koenig is a freelance writer and Marketing Exec living and working in Scotland. She ‘oohs’ when she spots the colourful “autumn in the trees,” and ‘aaahs’ when she sees a newborn baby. She salivates at the thought of Bubble Tea with lychee popples.
[Image via BBC]