The first time I read it was when I was at least twelve. It was slow and arduous, because reading big things like that (without any magic in them, of course) were just beginning to grow on me. It was for a book review project in school. They would definitely read it, and they would definitely know if I’d read it or not. Or so I thought. I later found out that others were reading abridged versions shortened to the point that the entire thing boiled down to ten thousand words at most.
I wish I could say I was angry at myself for wasting so much time on the original hardcover, or that I was angry at them for foregoing the original. I hardly knew what to think.
And that meant that my review wasn’t exactly on a different level either. But come on, I was just starting.
Reading it again was more than just refreshing to say the least. There was a whole lot more in terms of perception and understanding this time around, compared to just reading and finding out what happens next that was the majority of the first read. To quote the book itself, “The effect of a second perusal was widely different.” The break gave me new eyes. I could see more clearly what was going on. The bigger picture was already familiar; I just had to notice the fine lines.
Pride and Prejudice is as much a story about first impressions and clouded judgments as it is about love. It is as much about the prejudices of society as it is about prejudices that plague Elizabeth herself.
First impressions go a long way. It is hard, very hard to break free of a first impression if one is not aware of it. This is reflected in the interactions between Elizabeth and our beloved Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth’s impression on Darcy changed quite early on, when her difference in behavior from the rest of her family struck him. Compared to Mrs. Bennet and the company she kept, Lizzy’s “conduct was far above reproach.” However, Lizzy refused to see Darcy for anything other than the pride he exhibited at that first assembly. She willingly, and without further thought, attributed all his successive actions as a means to satisfy his pride in one manner or the other.
Call me crazy, but it has only now occurred to me that Darcy might as well have just been an introverted person who isn’t good at socializing. He said it himself. “I can’t dance with someone I don’t know.” Maybe he was a bit proud, like he also confesses in volume three, but he was also a very caring guardian and master.
And… um… yeah. That’s pretty much it.
The comedy was definitely a lot more hearty this time.