A Critical Review Of Pride And Prejudice
First of all, first impressions can be misleading. As we know, Jane named the novel “First Impressions” at first then changed the title. The reason why she called this book “First Impressions” was everyone in the book held first impressions of other people and their first impression most likely was wrong. For example, at the beginning of the book, the author said “His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped he would never come there again.” From this quote, it showed how quickly people could make a judgment of a stranger and this was a timeless behavior, applying to modern relationships as well. According to Todorov, a psychologist, people can form a first impression from a person’s face in as little as 30 to 40 milliseconds, which means it was a human nature that we find judging others based on a single glance, like their appearance, speaking manners, or gestures. However, once a first impression formed, it would take a long time for people to change it, such as Elizabeth deepened the misunderstanding about Darcy only because of Wickham and Darcy’s cousin’s words, and she finally realized her misconception until she read the letter.
In a similar way, “if people form an opinion early in the relationship about the other person, and then use every opportunity to screen out information that runs counter to that opinion, then they have a coherent worldview, but possibly an unreliable view of partner, who – whether they actually improve or not – is trapped within the prejudices”, according to Tim Lott. Therefore, Jane Austen effectively conveyed that self-justification can be misleading by describing the conversations between Elizabeth and Darcy and writing detailed descriptions of their manners. Since the first impressions also happened and affected the relationship in the modern world, it was said that Pride and Prejudice was a timeless love story.
Secondly, mutual respect is important to a healthy and happy marriage. The best example to illustrate this prompt was the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Bennet treated his wife like the fool and an entertainment tool, according to the quote “ This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given.” He did not respect his wife at all; even Elizabeth realized that it was “impropriety of her father’s behavior as a husband.”
Additionally, readers also could not see mutual respect in the marriage of Lydia and Wickham, since their relationship relied on outside stimulus for amusement and neither of them loved each other because of the personality. As a result, readers were prone to suspect that their love would last a long time since mutual respect, the bedrock of love that Austen recognized long before psychology explanation, did not exist in their relationship. Similarly, mutual respect was essential to modern relationships. Based on some psychology survey, when couples were able to respect the similarities and diversities between themselves, they are more likely to form a long-term relationship. This was proved by psychology that “In healthy relationships, people talk to each other in ways that don't debase, invalidate, or belittle. They value each other's time and opinions like they value their own.” Therefore, the essential rule of the modern relationship was already revealed in Jane Austen’s novel as early as the late 17th century.
Since Jane Austen spent a large number of words delivering the conversations between the characters, it failed short in depicting detailed descriptions of the geographic settings. At the beginning of the book, when Elizabeth walked to Netherfield to see her sister, the author only used one sentence to describe how hard to get there—“ she should walk three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather.” By spending fewer descriptions in the novel, readers are less likely to jump into the plot and feel the same way as Elizabeth, thus weakening the feeling of the hardness of the environment. Also, it was hard to say this novel was a timeless love story because it only based on its distinct social background. Back in that era, transportation systems were limited, if people did not have a carriage, they need to walk like Elizabeth. Due to this fact, the geographic restriction provided a hard time for people to make new friends outside the counties or enrich themselves to gain more knowledge, accounting for some silly and ridiculous female characters in the novel.
Moreover, since the characters lived in a small world, they tended to hold the ball for enlarging their social circle and care about their family reputation in children’s marriage. However, with the development of society, the social background may be the least consideration in the relationship. Lots of people chose to keep their long-distance relationship when they were young and turned it into marriage later when they settled down together. This is because the hardness of the environment depicted in the novel did not exist, the geographic restriction had fewer impacts on the relationship, and different geographic sites did not equal the family reputation anymore. As a result, it can be concluded that some obstacles existed in the ancient time would not be the problem in a modern relationship.
In conclusion, I believed that Pride and Prejudice was a timeless love story. Although times were changing and less geographic restrictions would affect relationships, Jane Austen delivered the universal truth of marriage to her readers, having mutual respect between partners and avoiding using first impressions to judge other people. It is desirable for us to learn the principles from the novel and find the conjugial love partner in the future.