Tag Archives: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Georgiana Darcy

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

If we are lucky during our childhood, we have parents and other relations who love us and want to shield us from the dark and sometimes murky reality of the outside world. But we all have to grow up eventually and face that dark and murky reality.

In Pride and Prejudice, the harsh facts of the adult world and how heartbreaking it can be are represented in Georgiana Darcy. Georgiana is Mr. Darcy’s younger sister by little more than decade. In the care of her brother and her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, since her father’s passing, Georgiana is growing up sheltered from the world. Over-protected not only because she is 15, but also because of the large inheritance that will be hers one day,  Georgiana knows little of the real world.

Then George Wickham comes back into her life. Her brother’s childhood friend (the snake that he is), pretends to have fallen in love with her and almost convinces her to elope. But they are discovered before the wedding vows are spoken and Mr. Wickham’s true motives are revealed. In the words of a certain rapper who will not be named because I have a particular disregard for him “he ain’t nothing but a gold digger”.

Georgiana’s broken heart must be soothed by her brother. While she is still young yet and has (hopefully) plenty of time to find a husband who will love and respect her, this first heartbreak has left a mark on her psyche that will always be a part of her.

To sum it up: growing up is hard. There are grey areas in life and people who are not what they seem to be. The character of Georgiana represents an innocence and a stage in life when we are beginning to grow beyond the comfortable confines of childhood. Georgiana’s story is one that in our way, we can relate to. A good writer creates not only recognizable characters, but recognizable narratives.  If the writer is able to create that recognizable narrative, it is one more hook that sinks itself into the audience’s conscious and keeps hold until the story is done. Like a recognizable character, a story without a recognizable narrative, the audience or reader is likely to not care and move on. If the audience or reader does not care, then the writer has not done their job.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Caroline Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For most of human history, women have been told, both consciously and unconsciously that being single is unacceptable. A woman needs a husband. This has created in some women, especially those seeking a wealthy husband, a less than likable reputation.

In Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley is one of these women. The older sister of Charles Bingley, Caroline knows that she must marry, like all women of the era. She has her sights set on one man: her brother’s best friend, Mr. Darcy.  But while Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline’s unknowing rival for Mr. Darcy is charming, intelligent, likable and witty, Caroline is the opposite. She is a two-faced snob who pretends that her family wealth does not come from trade. She is constantly flirting and throwing herself at Mr. Darcy, despite the obvious signs that he is not interested in her whatsoever. She also pretends to be friends with Jane Bennet, but then convinces her brother (with the help of Mr. Darcy) to walk away from Jane.

If Pride and Prejudice were set in a modern day high school, Caroline would be the perfect mean girl.

To sum it up:  Caroline is the character we love to hate. We cheer when Darcy and Elizabeth marry, knowing that Caroline has not won, she will not be Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley. Ironically, sometimes the favorite or the most memorable character is not the hero or heroine that we love, but the villain or the pseudo villain that we love to hate. It’s fun to watch them try to win, knowing that in the end, they won’t. A writer’s job is to create compelling and memorable characters. If being compelling and memorable means that the we love to hate to the character, then so be it.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Lady Catherine de Bourgh

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

On either end of the 1% spectrum, there are two kinds of people. On one end is the Bill Gates type, the person who uses his or her name and fortune to help those less fortunate. On the other end is the person who expects the rest of us to kiss their behind and fawn all over them just because they are famous, powerful and wealthy.

Jane Austen’s most notable member of the 1% community is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, from Pride and Prejudice. The elder sister of Mr. Darcy’s late mother, Lady Catherine is everything that the 99% expect of not just the upper classes, but the aristocratic set.  Lady Catherine is a first class snob who talks over everyone, thinks she is always right and has kept her only child, Anne, on a very short leash.  Under the assumption that her nephew and her daughter have been betrothed since childhood (despite any lack of evidence), Lady Catherine is far from pleased that Mr. Darcy may have an interest in Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman from a middle class family whose dowry is small and whose family home is entailed away to Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is not just Elizabeth’s cousin (and her father’s heir), but also  Lady’s Catherine’s rector.

Every good story needs a villain, an antagonist to the main character. While Lady Catherine is not a villain in the traditional sense, her opposition to Elizabeth makes her the villain in Pride and Prejudice.

To sum it up: Sometimes stereotypes are good, but only in small doses. While Lady Catherine is very much a stereotype, she is also the perfect antagonist to Elizabeth, the lead female character. If Austen was using Elizabeth as an example of how to act and how to grow from your mistakes, Lady Catherine is very much the opposite. She remains staunch in her beliefs, refusing to change or believe that her nephew would be happy married to Elizabeth. In creating Lady Catherine, the polar opposite to Elizabeth, Austen created a villain who is unforgettable. Characters must stand out to engage a reader or an audience member. If I take one lesson away from reading Pride and Prejudice, that is the lesson. Without memorable characters, the story falls flat and the reader/audience will walk away.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Collins

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is a fine line between confident and being full of it. While some of us recognize where that line is and try not to cross it, others are completely blind and cross that barrier without knowing it.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is full of it. He is awkward, obnoxious, a kiss ass and basically makes most readers toes curl in disgust. But he is also Mr. Bennet’s heir and set to inherit Longbourn one day.

From a practical perspective, a woman could do worse, especially in an era when her only option is marriage. He has a steady income from the church, is set to inherit a reasonably sized estate and has the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He may not be the smoothest or most charming of men, but who cares when you have a roof over your head, steady income and a husband who is loyal?

Yet Jane Austen knew better.

When one of her nieces, Fanny Knight was of an age to marry, her very wise aunt provided sane advice.

Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.

Mr. Collins knows that the most natural choice of a wife would be one of his cousins. He first sets his eyes on Jane, but is advised that she is soon to be engaged. Then he proposes to Elizabeth. The results are both comical and skin crawling.

When Elizabeth turns him down, Mr. Collins goes to the next best choice: Charlotte Lucas. With fewer choices available to her than Elizabeth, Charlotte says yes.  Mr. Collins finally has a respectable wife he can introduce to his patroness.  Content in his choices and lifestyle, Mr. Collins spends the rest of the book as he was when the reader met him: obnoxious, a kiss ass and full of it.

To sum it up: Not all characters grow or see the errors they have made over the course of the narrative. Some characters remain the same and are blind to how the other characters see them. Mr. Collins is one of those characters. While he is one of Austen’s most comical characters, he is a statement piece on how not to act.  A writer’s job is to find the balance between comedy and drama,  growth and stagnation and characters that audience loves and characters that the audience hates. That balance is one of the keys to success and keeping the reader hooked until they have turned to the last page.

 

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charlotte Lucas

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sometimes, life deals us a hand of cards that we would not choose for ourselves, if we had that choice. In cases like this, we have two choices, play the hand we are dealt or fight it bitterly and be miserable.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend is Charlotte Lucas. While Charlotte’s family is rising in status, she does not have the luck of her family. She has neither beauty, a witty personality or a large fortune to use as bait for potential husbands. She is also unmarried at the age of 27, which means according to the era she lived in, she was set for life to be the maiden aunt who took care of everyone else because she had neither a husband or a child of her own to care for.

After Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins’s proposal, he goes straight to Charlotte, who accepts him.  Elizabeth is horrified, but Charlotte knows that Mr. Collins is the best man she could get as a husband.

Through a modern lens Charlotte’s choice seems hasty and foolish. But we cannot look at her choices through 2017 lens, we must look at her choices through the lens of the Georgian era.

In Emma, Austen makes light of the hardship that single women endure.

It is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman with a very narrow income must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman of good fortune is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else. (p. 93)

Unlike Emma Woodhouse, Charlotte’s options are far more limited. She can either marry Mr. Collins for income and a comfortable home or forever be the old maid in her family. Given the options that are before her, marrying Mr. Collins, as ridiculous as he seems, makes a lot of sense.  Charlotte plays the hand that life has dealt her.  Prince Charming, Mr. Collins is not (and certainly never will be). But he is a respectable man with a solid income and home to offer Charlotte, which is certainly better than living with her parents for the rest of her days.

To sum it up: Sometimes in life, and on the page, we are dealt a certain hand of cards. How we deal with that hand defines us. In creating the character of Charlotte Lucas, Austen not only makes the most obvious feminist statement, but she also comments on the choices we make based upon our circumstances and why we make those choices. As writers,  we have to explain to the audience why our characters are making the choices they are making. If the character’s motives are fuzzy to the writer, they will also be fuzzy to the reader. Charlotte’s motives for her choices are clear and by making that clear, that is the only way to hook the reader so they will come back for more.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The first man in any woman’s life is her father, or lack thereof.  He will forever cast a shadow over her life and is the yardstick for how she will judge the men she meets throughout her lifetime. When it comes to dating and relationships, a woman’s father will play a part, even if he is in the background of her life.

In Pride and Prejudice, when compared to his wife, Mr. Bennet can be looked at as an absentee parent. The first description of Mr. Bennet is found very early in the novel:

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.

Mr. Bennet largely spends his time in his library, sequestered away from his wife and daughters. He openly favors Elizabeth (the second of his five daughters), mercilessly teases his wife (who gets sucked in every time) and does not step in as a father should, except when he is forced to (i.e. Lydia running away with Wickham). Unable to divorce his wife (divorce in that era was not only scandalous, but difficult), Mr. Bennet is content to sit in his library and largely ignore his family.

Compared to his wife (and her hysterics), Mr. Bennet is the emotionally absent parent. Unhappily married to a woman whom he is not compatible with, he has dealt with the hand of cards life has given him the best way he knows how to. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I marvel that Jane and Elizabeth have not only come through to adulthood without major emotional trauma, but also that their marriages are much happier than their parent’s marriage.

To sum it up: Not all marriages are happy. In a time when divorce was nearly impossible and scandalous, those trapped in unhappy marriages found ways to cope. Mr. Bennet’s way of coping was locking himself in his library. We all have coping mechanisms to deal with the difficult areas of our lives, in giving characters coping mechanisms, we make them human and despite their flaws, we understand them. The main task of a writer to create characters that the audience can relate to. Without that connection between the characters and the audience, it is highly likely that the audience will walk away and never return.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mrs. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Anyone who reads Jane Austen can quickly determine that she is hard on the mothers in her fiction. With the exception of Mrs. Morland in Northanger Abbey, the mothers are either dead, emotionally absent or physically absent from their children’s lives. But her greatest mother character among the six novels is Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

Mrs. Bennet is one of the most cringe worthy mothers in all of literature. She prattles on about nothing, openly boasts about pushing her daughters toward wealthy men, embarrasses her children on a frequent basis and seems to always have a case of the nerves.

 

While the reader is laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we don’t realize that she is actually not only the more engaged parent, but she is more realistic about her daughter’s future. She knows that she has no sons and that upon her husband’s future passing, Longbourn (the Bennet family estate), will automatically pass to her husband’s cousin and heir, Mr. Collins.  She also knows that her husband is not the best money manager and has only left his daughters with a small inheritance. It is therefore incumbent on the girls to marry well.

The best comedy makes us think while we are laughing. In making Mrs. Bennet an over the top comedic character whose anxieties are based on real issues, Jane Austen is making the reader think. Female based inheritance was not common up until recently. Most inheritance went from father to son or father to nearest male relative. Jane Austen, in a way that only she can, is making a statement about the injustice of passing over daughters when it came to matters of inheritance, whether it be inheritance of a title, a property, family income or all three.

To sum it up: One of Jane Austen’s best qualities as a writer was to subversively make her audience think. After we stop laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we realize that in her own way, she knows what she is doing. She knows that her girls have to marry men of financial consequence. The lesson I take from this character as a writer is that there has to be to more to a comedic character than making the reader laugh.  Funny is well and good, but in the end the clown has to take off their makeup at some point. That is the lesson to learn from Mrs. Bennet.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: George Wickham

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There much to be said about someone with an easy charm, a warm smile and an outgoing demeanor.  Most people would say that this person is a likable person whom they might want to spend more time with. Jane Austen was convinced that these people are not what they seem to be and should not be trusted.

As a writer, Jane Austen was known for her bad boys. Her most famous bad boy is George Wickham. Mr. Wickham is introduced to the reader in Pride and Prejudice early on in the book. Wearing an easy smile and looking good in his military uniform, Mr. Wickham catches the eye of the Bennet sisters. Elizabeth is still burning after Darcy’s diss and is all too eager to learn how Darcy ruined Wickham’s life.

If there is one thing George Wickham knows how to do well, it is to tell a sob story where he is the victim.

But looks are deceiving….

 

In the end, Wickham is revealed to be a ruthless cad who nearly married Georgiana Darcy  (who was 15 at the time) for her fortune and is paid to marry Lydia Bennet (who is the same age as Georgiana) after she runs away with him.

From a writing perspective, especially writing romance, Jane Austen knew what she was doing.  Each her books contain a similar narrative: a young woman of marriageable age who has the potential to marry one of two men: one of the men appears to put all of their cards on the table, the other keeps his cards to himself, at least in the beginning of the novel. Highly suspicious of people with just a little too much charm, Austen created her bad boys with a warning label: they may have a warm smile and an easy demeanor, but in the end, it will not end well.

To sum it up: Appearances can be deceiving. Jane Austen knew this all too well. In creating Mr. Wickham, she created a character that would not only deceive the audience, but also the other characters. Similar to a magician’s sleight of hand, while the reader (and Elizabeth by extension) was falling for Mr. Wickham’s charming smile and relaxing manner, they were not questioning if the stories he was telling matched reality. When the rug is pulled up and Mr. Wickham’s true nature is revealed, it is a shock that has sent jaws dropping to the floor for more than 200 years. That is the genius of Jane Austen and that is one of the reasons why readers keep going back to Pride and Prejudice again and again.

 

 

 

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Lydia Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

One of the standard character tropes that is seen time and again is the dimwitted teenage girl whose only thinks of two things: boys and clothes. In the world of Pride and Prejudice, this very basic character is played by Lydia Bennet.

The youngest of the Bennet girls and her mother’s favorite, Lydia is not unlike many a teenage girl. She likes dancing, flirting with the officers and basically having fun. While the accepted practice in the Regency era was that the younger daughters don’t come out in society until their older sister are married, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have bent the rules for their children.

Spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father, Lydia nearly ruins the reputation of her family and her elder sister’s chance of marrying well when she runs away with Mr. Wickham.  But Lydia does not care that she is living with a man without the benefit of marriage and Wickham is not exactly rushing her to the altar. Lydia only becomes Mrs. Wickham when Darcy agrees to pick up the tab.

 

While on the surface Lydia is appears to be the average teenage girl, she represents so much more. In running away with Wickham, Lydia not only nearly ruins her life, she also nearly ruins the lives of her family members. In a society where reputation was everything, one rumor, whether true or not, could kill the social status of a family. Lydia is a powerful character during Jane Austen’s time as she is during our own because she only thinks of herself and does not care about the consequences of her actions, especially when her actions affect others. If the reader only takes one thing away from the character of Lydia Bennet, is the message of using your brain and thinking of the possible consequences before acting on a thought.

To sum it up: While Lydia is not a central character, she is still an important character. Sometimes the character that ends up affecting the most change in the narrative is not the main character, but a side character whose actions have an effect on the arc of the main character. Though Lydia remains static as a character, the other characters are forced to become dynamic because of her actions. Lydia is also a standard character trope that has been seen time and again. In creating a standard character who does not change, but whose actions force others to change, Jane Austen created a character who is just as important to story as Elizabeth or Darcy.

 

 

 

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charles Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is always something fascinating about the new boy or girl in town.  The aura of their newness and mystery brings out the detective in everyone, eager to find out the details on their new neighbor.

In Pride and Prejudice, the book really gets going when the rumors in Meryton start to fly about the newest member of the community, Charles Bingley.  He is young, handsome and rich, as Mrs. Bennet crows in delight to her husband.

  “What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is he married or single?”

“Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

The readers and the characters are fully introduced to Mr. Bingley at a local ball. Bingley is amiable, friendly and quickly develops feelings for Jane Bennet, the eldest of the five Bennet daughters. The feelings are mutual, but his best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters, Caroline and Louisa would prefer that Bingley look elsewhere for a wife. Though Bingley is smitten with Jane, he is convinced to break off the relationship even before it has begun.

The end of the book is not unexpected. While Jane is silently pining for Bingley, he is regretting that not only did he walk away from her, but that he let others make his decision for him. He returns to Meryton (with Mr. Darcy in tow, whom he will soon call brother-in-law), proposes to Jane and they all live happily ever after.

Often, when Pride and Prejudice is referred to, most people outside of the Janeite (the nickname for Jane Austen fans) community think of Mr. Darcy. But while Darcy gets the attention, Bingley quietly slips into the background. While he is not the romantic hero and needs to grow a pair, he is amiable, friendly and unlike his best friend, not judgmental or snobbish. Despite his second nature story line, Bingley’s character arc and growth throughout the novel is equal to Darcy.

To sum it up: Sometimes the quieter character growth is more important than the bombastic one. In learning to stand up for himself and his needs, Mr. Bingley grows from a young man who loses himself in other’s opinions to a man who is not afraid to speak up when someone else is trying to make his decisions for him.  Character growth, in whatever direction it takes, is the most important job of a writer, regardless of whether the character is in your face, or waiting in the wings for it’s moment to shine.

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