Although these handsome and charismatic actors have caused a distraction it is perhaps Elizabeth who is the finer and more original creation. Sweet but forthright, pretty but not beautiful, brave but not bold, intelligent but not boring, she is, for many women, the perfect role model.
Was Elizabeth a self portrait? This seems to be highly unlikely, but she is most probably the woman Jane Austen wanted to be. As she says: “I do think her the most delightful creature ever to appear in print”, and who can argue with her?
By the time the novel was published Jane Austen was no longer the giddy girl who first created this delightful creature. Described by one observer as a “husband hunting butterfly” while still in her teens, she had become the mature, worldly-wise spinster by her early thirties. By then she had seen boyfriends come and go, brothers marry and be widowed, had been uprooted several times and witnessed her country at war. She probably no longer believed in happy ever after in quite the same way as she had when she planned the book, but still wanted to share the delightful optimism and spirit of her heroine.
Written initially as First Impression while living at Steventon at her father’s rectory, it became Pride and Prejudice sometime after, and received its final revision at Chawton Cottage, now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum. This is the home from which this most famous novel was published and from where she wrote to her sister Cassandra the now immortal line: “I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London” on receiving her first copy of the book.
In this bicentenary year I invite everyone to share in the excitement. Read the book, watch the adaptations, visit the place where it all began.
Pride and Prejudice is my second favourite novel. I love how Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have all these misunderstandings and then finally get married and live happily ever after! xx