“In vain have I struggled. It will do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to you how ardently I admired and love you.” – Mr. Darcy
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Even for the author herself, Pride and Prejudice was her dearest work and Elizabeth Bennet her favorite character. After all these years since its first publication in 1813, the same novel has remained well-loved by many, young and old, from all over the world.
I am quite happy to have discovered that this year actually marks Pride and Prejudice’s 200th year for this book has remained a favorite of mine since 2010, when I first obtained a copy of the book. It was on the 1st of June to be exact for I usually write the date and my name below it on my books, something to remind me.
Before that, I had already fallen in love with the 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. As a movie, I thought that in did not fall short in expressing the sentiments of the novel even as it was shortened due to time constraints. This movie will perhaps always be one of my favorites, the kind that one never gets tired of watching. True enough, it never fails to still squeeze my heart and make me feel romantic each and every time.
Two days before 2012 ended, I watched it again for the umpteenth time and celebrated the New Year rereading the novel. I was much surprised when I found out through another blog about its 200th year. How timely it was for me to have seen and read both the film and novel!
Thus, it had led me to reflect not only on Miss Jane Austen’s skill in writing, one which remains pleasing and engaging to the readers even after 200 years, but also on the way things were conducted during her time. Marrying as the most important goal of every woman and doing so just to advance one’s standing in society are not its most commendable customs. What I appreciate though and love most about her portrayal of her society is the honesty of men in expressing their feelings, at least those who were good and honourable in all her writings.
These men, such as Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, and even Mr. Collins, were honest and straightforward with their intentions. Perhaps their formal manner of speaking to a lady would not be recommended today but the way they expressed their sentiments – direct and simple yet romantic in way. For I think that it takes much courage for a man to be truly honest with his feelings in the face of possible rejection. I think it would be nicer if men now still engaged in such gentlemanly ways and still said their feelings outright. No need for a marriage proposal after a confession of course, but relating their feelings with utmost sincerity and frankness would be greatly appreciated.
However, I must also concede to the fact that many men in Austen’s time were no different from men now, such as Mr. Wickham, who desired money over love, lustful desires over ethical excellence, and deceit over honour. Like today, men also liked fooling around instead of seriously pursuing someone. Today though might be worse at least as much as my experience and observation could tell me. A lot of men do not express their intentions anymore as they liked going around in circles, more afraid to be honest as their egos have become more important. It then becomes confusing for both parties and at times, it ends bitterly when it could have bloomed into something more. All because of the things that were left unsaid.
In my country and in our culture, modern ways are slowly allowing women to express their feelings first. However, this is still not the norm and men are still hoped to be the first to initiate the acknowledgment of feelings. At least in my case, for that is what my family instilled in me – the importance of a man to be able to express his sincerest feelings supported by his actions. Sadly, experience has shown that there are more men (perhaps only on my case) who are more confusing than straightforward, flirtatious than sincere. Even sadder is that I have also fallen into such traps, much to my disbelief. This I only realize after regaining my senses and making me think, “How on earth did I ever like that man (or boy, for that matter)?”
I sometimes laugh good-naturedly in recollection, especially when I get to read previous diary entries of my thoughts and feelings during those times of blindness.
That is why I get to appreciate those men who have shown honesty, sincerity, and gentlemanly conduct in their ways, be it to me or to the ladies who have captured their hearts. I hope more of their gender could be like that. It would be so much simpler too, to have them say what they really mean to say and say it before it is too late.
Before I end this, there is one last thing I appreciate about Jane Austen – her claim to never engage in a commitment without affection. That to marry someone for the sake of money or status would not be worth exchanging for the happiness that real love could bestow. I believe I am a hopeless romantic, which may be a weakness and a strength. It has led me and my vivid imagination to believe in true love and continuously believe in it. Because of this, I have become extremely fond of Jane Austen and her works. Just like her however, Pride and Prejudice always remain the dearest.
“You have bewitched me body and soul and I love, I love, I love you.” – Mr Darcy, Film Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (2005)