I mean, I’ve made this confession before, but I think it needs to be better explained, even if it is wildly unpopular. I have never actually read Pride and Prejudice. I think I started once, in grade school or junior high or something (long enough ago that I remember dragging it to Sunday school with me) but I just… I couldn’t keep going. Maybe this is because I was in grade school or junior high or something. Maybe this is because it just wasn’t my thing. I don’t begrudge people whose thing it is, it’s just… not mine.
Mind you, I’m familiar with Pride and Prejudice on the whole. As before mentioned, I’ve seen the miniseries, I’ve seen the 2005 version, I’ve seen Bride and Prejudice, the ridiculous Bollywood version with Alexis Bledel as Georgiana (multiple times, thank you junior high friend), I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its sequel and all of the ridiculous Pride and Prejudice sequels I’ve blogged about here before, I watch “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on YouTube. But I just can’t bring myself to pick the book up again.
After being so exposed to the story in so many other forms, I’m familiar enough with it to know, or at least to guess, that I just… I don’t care that much about these people. I didn’t care when I read it (that, even taking into consideration my age, was probably why I didn’t finish it) and I don’t know that I’d care again. I find it interesting enough when they battle zombies or don’t sleep with vampires or solve mysteries, and the modernized girls are kind of cute and endearing, but it’s just not my thing in its original form.
For example, as per she is the feisty protagonist, you’re supposed to like Lizzie the best. She’s spunky, she’s spirited, she’s… eh. I mean, I guess she’s fine. Even in the versions of the story that I’ve actually finished, I have never felt Lizzie Bennet feelings. Not in the strictest sense. She has her endearing moments, I suppose, but not enough that they overwhelm me with love. Jane is sweet, and I acknowledge that, but she suffers from Oldest Sister In An 1800s Novel syndrome. It’s like Meg in Little Women: she’s sweet, she’s a good person, you can’t dislike her, but she’s not, at least on the page, allowed to be particularly fascinating.
The only Bennet sister (or actually, the only character in this story at all) that I have ever felt feelings for is, as I’ve mentioned before as well, Mary. I realize this means I’m reading/watching it wrong. Being one of the three younger sisters (in the YouTube version, a cousin), she’s regarded as without fail “foolish.” She doesn’t enjoy dancing with boys or socializing at parties, largely because she instead likes to play the piano and sing, and maybe she’s not the best but she’s relatively passionate. She’s also regarded as foolish because she’s serious-minded and doesn’t enjoy to have fun like all of her sisters enjoy to have fun. She’s reserved, she’s quiet, she doesn’t really like dressing up fancy. In the YouTube version, she’s tamely Gothy.
But see, I love Mary for all of the above reasons. I love characters that play the piano and sing, even if they’re just so-so at it, and I feel for her because her father thinks she’s not the best at it or something. (Been there, Mary baby. It’s okay.) I myself went through a phase of having to play any foreign piano I saw at parties, largely because I too didn’t like to dance or socialize all that much with strangers. And nothing makes me sadder than when characters (or people IRL) regard others as silly because they’re more comfortable in a land of slightly emotionally detached fact and expertise. Hey, guess what? Not everyone is the same! Not everyone’s going to have the same levels of social savvy or interest. Also, I like reserved and quiet characters who kind of just like being by themselves in the background without being flashy.
I guess maybe one of the reasons I can’t really get into Pride and Prejudice is that above not everyone is the same issue? I’m again comparing to Little Women, which I remember as being a story where all four sisters were very different, yet they (and their parents) all appreciated each other for their differences. Sure, they called each other out sometimes; Jo and Amy didn’t get on, for example. But I don’t remember Marmee and Father ever telling their daughters they needed to get married or behave a certain way. I don’t remember anyone ever ridiculing Beth for liking her piano better than she liked strangers, and even flighty Amy who liked fancy things or occasionally materialistic Meg who just wanted to be elegant weren’t treated as “welp I am shallow that is that” kinds of characters.
Basically, while I know I’ll partake of other Pride and Prejudices in the future, the only ones I really want are stories about Mary or Kitty maybe. Stories about “hey, look, we’re fully realized too!”
–your fangirl heroine.