Monday, November 07, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

I've seen the BBC six-hour mini-series a number of times, and I always enjoy it. It is especially fine to sit with my wife and teenage daughter and wait for the favorite parts and sympathize with the characters, discuss the finer points of that peculiar English society, crack-wise at moments when levity is acceptable, and so forth.

I finally read the book and was amazed at how closely the mini-series matched it. There are only a very few inconsequential differences, though some literary fine points (such as the "narrator's" sometimes snide remarks) are of necessity missing, while the screenplay also adds a very few bonus lines to scenes that help the viewer understand things.

I'm looking forward to the new movie (staring Keira Knightly. But I can't imagine that they could do Jane Austen's book justice in only two hours, and anyway, how could it possibly be any good without Colin Firth as Darcy?

For what it's worth, here is my Pride and Prejudice Quiz ala-Dan.

Pride and Prejudice Quiz

1) If you were to encounter George Wickham in Brighton or perhaps the streets of London, would you:
  a) Inquire after his health.
  b) Curtsy, admire his demeanor, and continue on.
  c) Kick him squarely in the yarbles.

2) Darcy's income is £______ per year
  Bingley's income is £______ or £______ per year (perhaps more, according to Mrs. Bennet)
  Wickham was given £______ in lieu of his "Living" He also had £______ from another endowment.
  The agreement stipulated that Mr. Bennet was to pay (only) £______ per year to the Wickhams.
  Wickham left Brighton with debts on the order of £______
  Georgiana's fortune: £______
  Lady Catherine de Bourgh has a chimney-piece that cost no less than £______

3) A bunch of girl lions hanging around a handsome guy lion is called a _______

4) Who lives where:
  Pemberley in Derbyshire __________
  Lambton __________
  Netherfield ___________
  Rosings _________
  Gracechurch Street (near Cheapside) _____
  Meryton ______
  Longbourn House in Hertfordshire _____

5) If you had this once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to Brighton where the regiment was now stationed, you would:
  a) flirt, flirt, flirt.
  b) elope to Scotland.
  c) do a bit of sea-bathing.
  d) consult with your sensible older sister, you idiot.

6) The name of a city in Texas is ______________

7) If you happened across Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy at a Netherfield ball, you would:
  a) Curtsy and inquire after the health of his sister.
  b) Brashly introduce yourself and tell him that his aunt was quite well yesterday se'nnight.
  c) You would avoid going to the ball altogether, for unstated reasons.
  d) Do him, right then and there, on the ballroom floor.

8) Mr. Bennet and Mr. Bingley might be seen together shooting...
  a) Cranberry Jello-O® shooters.
  b) A gram of uncut Mexican black-tar heroin.
  c) A BBC mini-series.
  d) birds.

9) On the subject of music, Lady de Bourgh...
  a) ...said. "Had I ever learned to play, I would be a great proficient."
  b) ...advised. "Practice, practice, practice. Then make yourself available for Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs"

10) An 'entail' is:
  a) A legal technicality by which a scummy shirt-tail relative ends up with your family estate.
  b) When there is a severe shortage of Y-chromosomes in your progeny.
  c) A type of dark yeasty brew quaffed by Tolkien's perambulating trees.

11) You find that Lizzy is badly shaken after reading a letter from Jane. You should...
  a) Quickly exit the room, leaving her thinking that you are gone forever.
  b) Discard your foolish English pride and wrap your manly arms around her to give her strength and comfort.
  c) Ardently admire her, then immediately commence with the tongue kissing.

My commentary on P&P

I'd like to make a few observations about Lizzy. I consider her to be a true heroine of literature for many reasons, but particularly for this:

Early on, she formed an opinion and was thoroughly convinced of its truth. But when she was presented with new information, she mentally replayed everything she had heard and seen in the light of that new information and, incredibly, she was able to change her opinion, even reverse that early opinion. That is a truly amazing, admirable capacity.

I also liked that she could make fun of herself. When asked when she changed her opinion, she says "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." Jane scoffs, knowing it is a joke and the reader knows she is laughing at herself.

There was another scene that made a new impact on me when I read it:
Wickham is at Longbourn after being forced to marry Lydia. Lizzy has a private conversation with him and she has the great opportunity -- she can rake him over the coals, put him down, and nail him to the wall... but she does NOT. She pushes near the edge ("I did hear, too, that there was a time, when sermon-making was not so palatable to you as it seems to be at present") but then defuses the awkwardness and lets him off the hook, saying "Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past."

The image I formed is something like a "human social calculator." The book just describes the conversation, so it is all implied, but it appears to me that she (probably intuitively) analyzes all the good and all the bad that could come about if she drives home the knife, and realizes that there is nothing to gain. And by remaining silent, she proves to us that she has overcome her pride. Again, a very admirable human quality.


Post a Comment

<< Home