Book Wank

Apr. 11th, 2006 12:15 pm
deoridhe: (Default)
Someone missed the day they covered "satire" in Lit class. Somewhat ironically, I said to my co-worker right before reading this, "I wonder how many women who like Pride and Prejudice don't realize it's a satire. I hope not too many."

We can add several to this list from this article alone.

I hope and pray that the opening line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that the book women feel has most transformed their lives is the one that has assured them for the past two centuries that, yes, they will marry the wealthy, handsome man next door and live happily ever after.", is read with the same deeply satirical manner that Austen wrote her first line of Pride and Prejudice in, but I fear both hope and prayer are lost. Given that later on she quotes someone saying, "The writer Suzanne Moore similarly questioned Austen's relevance to 21st-century women, albeit with slightly less specific and descriptive objections: 'I can't see how it changed women's lives, it just confirmed what they were meant to be. It is a great book, but it's about how women have to shape themselves within social conventions.'"

Only, you know, not.

If Elizabeth Bennet has "shape[d herself] within social conventions," she would have married her first cousin halfway through the book and moved into his parsonage to play court to Fitzwilliam Darcy's tyrannical and ridiculous aunt. One of the critical decisions in that entire book is her refusing to marry, in fact; a critical decision that Austen obliquely reinforces by having her eventually marry someone far richer than her cousin, though Elizabeth herself thinks of the improvement in terms of their mental and spiritual connections not her monetary gain.

The entire book is not about how marrying rich people is good; it's about how pride and prejudice cloud the mind and how they may be overcome. The marriages are window dressing on a far deeper and more meaningful lesson. It also lampoons people who think only of their own importance, people who base how they treat other people on their perceived status, people who fail to be rational, and - more gently - people who are amiable and even tempered but unclear.

It terrifies me that people get so caught up in the plot that they miss the point.

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Deoridhe

September 2007

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