Friday, October 26, 2007

Pride and Prejudice is life

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

This is the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The irony is, of course, that this is not true, but rather it is a prejudice. The other irony is that while the book opens up with a statement of a universal truth that is not, in fact, true, the rest of the novel is all about a different sort of universal truth - the truth stated in the title. Every person - every single person - has both pride and prejudice to some degree or another.

For me, further irony lies in the fact that I was prejudice against romance stories in high school. Extraordinarily prejudice, I might even say. And I was proud. I stood my ground. I knew what books I liked to read and what books I didn't and there was no way anyone was going to tell me differently. Therefore, when Pride and Prejudice was listed as a choice for summer reading in ninth grade, I chose a different book. And when my friends finally convinced me to read it, I did so begrudgingly, blinding myself by my prejudices to Austen's brilliance. I couldn't make it through even a quarter of the book.

It was only in twelfth grade - perhaps because I had matured a little - that I finally gave the book a real chance. And you know what? I loved it.

That's pride and prejudice for you, right there.

I think everything we do, every person we meet, every new thing we're introduced to, we see with a shades of prejudice. We have ideas about things we don't even really know about. We create labels in our heads for people who we've never even met. We judge before we know the thing we're actually judging.

Realizing all this is when I finally learned - Pride and Prejudice is not merely a story of romance. It is a story about life. About something that every single person in the entire world, without exception, can relate to. Because I refuse to believe that there is a single person out there without any prejudices at all.

But then again, perhaps that's just another prejudice.


haKiruv said...

I agree. It's so much easier to place people in a box unfortunately. Well, not a real box, but you know what I mean.

SJ said...

Ah, don't even get me started on P&P...I don't want to keep you here all night. Suffice it to say, that yes, it is pure brilliance, and everyone should read it...including males (don't worry, we won't tell anyone).

Chana said...

Not such an Austen fan but I agree that many people have their prejudices; it is important to be aware of them.

Ezzie said...

it is important to be aware of them