Why? Well, since you asked, here’s my explanation.
It’s not hard to fall in love with Ms. Bennet’s character. I think Ms. Austen did a very good job in bringing the character alive in the book. For movie, I recommend the TV version made by BBC, not the Kira Knightley’s Hollywood version. In the BBC version, Ms. Bennet was played by the magnificent and beautiful actress, Jennifer Ehle, and Mr. Darcy by the handsome actor, Colin Firth. This version followed the book pretty close, hence the over-2-hour length of time with the BBC version.
Like I said, it’s not hard to like Ms. Bennet. She is witty, clever, independent, temperamental, honest, unpretentious, somewhat moody, and definitely stubborn. Her courage and bravery in keeping her integrity and ability to make decision based on her own independent thinking and values at that century was remarkable, if not impossible. Women in that Georgian England time were considered properties of their families. Therefore, for Ms. Bennet to do what she did in the storyline might be considered at that time to be brave and courageous, albeit idealistic and foolish as well. It was a story, after all, not a reality, even though many interpretations have been presented that the storyline was a projection of the author’s mindset at that time. Ms. Austen made a similar decision in her life and remained a single woman for the rest of her life.
I wonder what it would feel like for women to go against all odds in certain times in our history when choices were limited and painful consequences were more abundant than happy endings. What would you do when marriage was the end of what you have been striving for throughout your life so far? That how life looked like for ladies during that time. Mind you, it was not just ANY marriage to be desired for. The goal was for a GOOD marriage, which translates to the following fact: to be married into a wealthy family or at least a family with enough money to live well. See, marriage was not about love or heart the way we know it now. It was seen as a transfer of property. Perhaps the definition of love back then was not the same as how we understand it now. In reality then, women did not go into marriage for love or for following their heart. They entered marriage for the sake of their future and the wellbeing of their own family.
So how did we go from there to now? Unfortunately, that sounds like another topic to write. For now, let’s stick to Ms. Bennet.
Going back to Ms. Bennet then. Again, I see her as more an idealistic character than a realistic one, which where I seem to gravitate mostly anyway; the idealistic one, that is. It’s always wonderful to see a normal, humble, honest character facing against the ugly society and its rules and expectations, struggling against the odds, realizing her mistakes, battling her own prejudices, and then in the end, coming out as a winner. Horay, yay, yippee.
But then, now what? What do I learn from this whole story and my favorite character? I guess there are reasons why I am fascinated with her character. I feel like I’m being pulled by her portrayal in the book and in the movie. Perhaps I identify with the gender part of the story, the flavor of feminism idea? The first time I watched this movie was in the early or mid 90s and although I was not a kid back then, I was still very green about this thing called “feminism.” It seemed to be my first introduction to the idea. Or perhaps because I desire to have her character? The mix of witty and intelligence is very enticing and poisonous. Then again, it could be because I also fall under that characteristic group of people with high sense of idealism, making me a perfect idealist.
Whatever the reason is, I seem to gravitate towards her character. It’s not only Ms. Bennet, but almost all of Ms. Austen’s female characters. Hm, that makes me wonder if perhaps it’s not these creation of characters that I admire, but Miss Austen herself. Well, that is a thought indeed.
Oh, by the way, how rude of me to fail in mentioning the title of the book or the movie so far. I just assume my readers would know. Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, if you haven’t already known it by now, allow me to introduce you Pride and Prejudice by the intelligent, gracious, brave, and courageous Lady Jane Austen (she is a Lady to me). I think her books will always be a source of inspiration to love, life, laughter, and survival. Yes, survival. We are all facing what her characters were also struggling with in her books, but in a different time period. We all live within our own society’s rules and expectations. We learn how to live inside the boundaries and make the best out of our life. We actually share more similarities than differences with Ms. Bennet’s world and the current time. We may look as if we have more freedom to make choices and room to exercise our rights, but with more sense of freedom also comes more responsibilities and rules. In the end, the concept remains the same. Perhaps now I can borrow Ms. Bennet’s witty sense of humor and comments in facing my unfair and unjust world?