Stuff I Read in High School (in Fifteen Minutes) – Pride and Prejudice

Bennet Household:
Mrs. Bennet – I heard a rich young man is moving into that old mansion for the summer.  I think I can get Jane married off this summer!  She’s 22, after all, and the oldest, so we need to hurry up!

Mr. Bennet – What if Jane doesn’t like the young man?

Mrs. Bennet – I don’t understand.  We have five daughters to marry off.  He’s rich, and she’s available.  What’s liking him have to do with it?

Mr. Bennet – *sigh* Apparently nothing, my dear.

Bingsley’s Swinging Party:
Jane – What if Mr. Bingsley doesn’t like me, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth – Jane, my dear sister, you’re nice and you’re pretty.  If he doesn’t like you, he’s an idiot.

Bingsley – Darcy, my friend!  Why aren’t you dancing or making the least amount of effort to enjoy yourself?

Darcy – You know the women here are only out for your money.

Bingsley – Now, Darcy, you don’t know that.  The eldest Ms. Bennet seems quite charming and she’s pretty too, but you can’t have her.  But her sister there, she’s also pretty.  You should ask her to dance.

Darcy – Eh, she’s not that pretty.

Elizabeth – Hey!  I’m standing right here!

Darcy – Yeah, I know. –saunters off–

Elizabeth – Jerk.

Bennet Household:
Mrs. Bennet – Jane sure hit it off with that rich Mr. Bingsley.  Surely she’ll marry him!  She’s spending so much quality time with him!

Elizabeth – Mom, she practically caught pneumonia and he was nice enough to put her up instead of sending her home in the rain and cold.  She could have died!  And being laid up with a cold doesn’t exactly highlight her best qualities to Mr. Bingsley.

Mrs. Bennet – Tsk, tsk, it’s all working out fine.

Bingsley Household:
Elizabeth – I’m here to see my sister.  Also, it’s really nice of you to let her stay here while she recovers.

Miss Bingsley (Mr. Bingsley’s sister) – You and your sister are low-class trash, and I think she’s just playing up this illness to get close to my brother and his money.  If I had my way, I’d throw her out this instant and make sure you and your trashy family don’t so much as see my brother again.

Elizabeth – Wow, so money really can’t buy class.

Darcy – Ha!  Good one.

Miss Bingsley – Hey!

Elizabeth – Who says I was just talking about Miss Bingsley here?

Darcy – Hey!  What are you doing here anyway?

Elizabeth – Visiting my sister, who is really sick thanks to my idiot mother.  Why are you here in this podunk, low-class town?

Darcy – I happen to be visiting my best bro, Bingsley.

Miss Bingsley – You mean, the Bingsleys, including me, right?

Darcy – Nooo, not really.  So, Elizabeth, are you going to be around a lot?

Elizabeth – Until Jane gets better.  So I really hope she gets better soon, both for her sake, and for mine so I don’t have to be around high-class snobs like you and Miss Congeniality over there.

Darcy – You should be nice to me.  I’m rich and I’m totally hot.

Elizabeth – You’re a jerk.  I’m going to spend some time around my sister, who despite hacking up her lungs is much better company than either of you.

Darcy – I don’t understand.  I’m rich, and hot, and you’re not impressed?  I’m pretty sure this has never happened to me.

Elizabeth – Whatever, I’m going to see Jane.

Miss Bingsley – Hey, low-class trash, you keep your low-class hands away from Darcy.  He’s mine.

Elizabeth – He’s a jerk!  You can have him, and if you actually convince him to marry you, then you two totally deserve each other.

Jane’s Room:
Jane – You know, Elizabeth, I get the feeling Miss Bingsley doesn’t like me very much.  I’ll just have to try harder so she will like me!

Elizabeth – Jane, you are sweet, but you are so clueless.  Don’t worry about it.  As long as Mr. Bingsley likes you, you’ll be fine.

–And then soldiers move into town, which makes Mrs. Bennet very happy at the prospects of marriage for her daughters.–

Town:
Wickham – Hey, you’re cute; what’s your name?

Elizabeth – I’m Elizabeth.

Wickham – Cool.  You want to go out?

Elizabeth – Sure!

Lydia – Dang it!  I want to land a soldier husband.

Kitty – Oh, yeah, me too!

Darcy – Hey, Elizabeth, are you still making a nuisance of yourself at Bingsley’s place? –sees Wickham–  *chilly stare* Oh, it’s you.

Wickham – *chilly stare* Oh, it’s you.

Darcy – Well, I’ll be going now.  –leaves–

Elizabeth – So what’s that all about?

Wickham – Let’s not going into that.  Suffice to say, some wrongs were done, by which I’m implying he done me wrong.

Elizabeth – I could believe that.

Bennet Household:
Mrs. Bennet – Good news Elizabeth!  Since it’s obvious Jane’s going to marry that rich Mr. Bingsley, we’ve decided to find you a husband!  And look, your father’s cousin Mr. Collins is looking for a wife, so I think you two will be perfect, especially since he’ll inherit the estate after your father dies.

Elizabeth – … I’m going to Charlotte’s…

Charlotte’s Place:
Elizabeth – Oh my God, Charlotte, you wouldn’t believe what’s going on.  Jane and Bingsley are getting along great, but his sister is a total shrew!  And my mother!  She’s trying to marry me off to Mr. Collins, my father’s cousin who is a total loser with a capital LOSER.  ARGH!

Charlotte – Then let’s agreed to never settle on some man just to please our parents.  We’ll marry because we want to.

Elizabeth – Agreed!  Now to just convince my mother to back the hell off.

Bennet Household, Later:
Elizabeth – Dad, please tell Mom I’m not marrying your cousin.  He’s a loser and we both know it.

Mr. Bennet – Well, I can’t argue with that.  I’ll talk your mother out of it, but she’s never going to stop until all five of you are married.

Elizabeth – Why did you marry Mom anyway?

Mr. Bennet – I was young and stupid and she was pretty and of the right social class.  Turns out she’s absolutely flaky and I think Lydia’s going to be just as bad.

Elizabeth – That explains a lot.  Well, hopefully things will work out with that nice Mr. Wickham.

Bennet Household, Even Later:
Collins – Well, I’m sorry you won’t marry me, Elizabeth, but your father explained to me you just weren’t ready, so all is forgiven.

Elizabeth – That’s…great…

Collins – And I’d like you to meet the future Mrs. Collins.  Charlotte Lucas!

Elizabeth – What?!?  I-I what?!?  Charlotte, can we talk privately for a minute?  –switch to place of privacy–  What in the hell is this?  You said, ‘don’t settle!’  You said, ‘marry a good match.’  He’s an idiot!  We pinky swore!

Charlotte – I’m 27 years old!  I am sooooo freakin’ old; I’m glad Collins is stupid enough to be talked into marrying me.  I know he’s an idiot, but I don’t want to be a burden on my family because you know that’s all unmarried daughters are.  I’ll figure something out.  Hopefully you’ll be luckier than I am.  Good luck, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth – This just sucks.

Bingsley Place, Swingin’ Party 2:
Elizabeth – Mom, don’t embarrass Jane.

Mrs. Bennet – Oh, no, of course I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass MY DAUGHTER who is going to MARRY that RICH Mr. Bingsley.

Elizabeth – *facepalm*

Mrs. Bennet – I am the BEST MOM in the WORLD.  Also I have FOUR ELIGIBLE daughters if anyone else is interested!  There’s Elizabeth, and Mary, and Catherine and Lydia, all ELIGIBLE.

Lydia – Ooo, me!  ME!  Any hot guys want to me MARRY ME?

Kitty – Oh, yeah, hey, any hot guys want to marry me?

–And the Bingsleys abruptly move back to London without so much as saying good-bye–

Elizabeth – Yeah, and no one saw that coming after that party.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Darcy and that nasty Miss Bingsley were the ones behind this.  Then again, that party was bad.

–Jane spends the entire winter writing to Mr. Bingsley but Miss Bingsley is the one that returns her letters and tells her Mr. Bingsley is not interested in continuing their relationship; Elizabeth’s concern for her sister cools the developing relationship with Wickham; Jane finally goes to London to try to see Mr. Bingsley–

London, Bingsley Place:
Jane – I know this is somewhat stalkerish and pathetic, but I thought we were getting along so well and I just don’t understand why Mr. Bingsley won’t even reply to my letters!

Miss Bingsley – You are low-class trash.  Your mother is a flake and your two youngest sisters are no better.  My brother never wants to see you again and I don’t like you either.  Get out.

–Spring comes and Mr. Bennet insists Elizabeth get out of the house, especially since Mrs. Bennet and Lydia and Catherine are still moaning over the loss of Jane’s marriage prospects and the regiment moved out so there are no soldiers either; Elizabeth is happy to get out of the madhouse although she feels bad for Jane who is still stuck there–

The Collins’ Residence:
Elizabeth – So how’s married life, Charlotte?

Charlotte – Oh, he’s an idiot.  He doesn’t even read.  But Lady de Bourgh is good company, except for being a stuck-up snob.  She’ll probably ask us to visit.

Rosings Park:
Collins – I know a person with a title!  See?

Lady de Bourgh – It’s so nice to meet Mr. Collins’ family.  You’re so quaint for being peasants.

Elizabeth – I’m beginning to think home is less obnoxious.

Lady de Bourgh – Oh, your from that little podunk village, right?  My dear, sweet nephew spent some time down there last summer.  Isn’t that right, Colonel Darcy?

Elizabeth – *spit take*  D-Darcy?

Colonel Fitzwilliam – Oh, yes, indeed, that was Fitzwilliam.  Good thing he was there, I daresay, pip pip wot wot.  His friend Bingsley almost proposed to some low-class woman he’d met at a party.  Oh, that would have been disastrous.

Elizabeth – Yes, how…fortunate…oh, hey, look at the time.  I have to go somewhere else.

Lady de Bourgh – Where else?

Elizabeth – Anywhere else.

The Collins’ Residence:
Elizabeth – Can this visit get any worse?

Darcy – Elizabeth, I need to talk to you!

Elizabeth – Argh!  You’re here too?  Go away!

Darcy – I love you and I want to marry you!

Elizabeth – *blink* *blink blink*  I’m sorry, what?

Darcy – The way you have been completely unimpressed by my vast wealth and good looks has endeared me to you.  You also seem pretty smart, for a peasant, so I’ll overlook the fact that you’re from a much lower social class and your family is just awful on every level.  So, marry me?

Elizabeth – *blink*  *blink blink*

Darcy – You’re turning a very odd shade of red and your eye is kind of twitching.  Do you need to lie down?  I mean, I know such a confession is very shocking…

Elizabeth – You selfish, arrogant, insensitive, stuck-up @$$#*!%!  You insult my family, okay fine, they are kind of terrible but still!  Jane loved Bingsley and you broke them up, you treat Mr. Wickham like he’s garbage, you insulted me the day you met me, and you think you love me?  And have the audacity to ask me to marry you?

Darcy – Um, so that’s a maybe?

Elizabeth – Get out of here and I never want to see you again!

Darcy – Um, okay, so this has been a bit of a shock.  I’ll just give you some time, let you think it over… um, laters!

–Later, Darcy sends Elizabeth a letter explaining that Wickham had cheated him out of money and tried to marry his younger and frail sister for her fortune, and that he didn’t realize Jane loved Bingsley, and that Elizabeth’s family (except for Jane) are pretty terrible.–

Elizabeth – Worst apology ever.  Still, asking me to marry him was kind of flattering.  But he’s still a jerk and no one insults my family except me.

London (A Few Months Later), the Gardiner Residence:
Elizabeth – I’m so glad you let me visit.  Jane’s still depressed about Bingsley, Mom’s going on and on about us never getting married, Mary’s telling everyone she told us so, Lydia and Kitty are acting all weird, and Dad mentally checked out weeks ago.

Aunt Gardiner – That sounds awful.  Let’s go for a walk.

Elizabeth – Hey, isn’t this the Darcy estate?  Won’t we get thrown out?

Aunt Gardiner – Oh, no, it’s fine.  You’ll see.  Maybe Mr. Darcy will even be home.

Elizabeth – Oh, that would be swell…

Aunt Gardiner – He really is a nice young man.  You should give him a chance.

Elizabeth – Eh, what are the odds he’ll actually be around?

Darcy – Hello, everyone!

Elizabeth – Right, my fault for asking.  So, aren’t you going to kick us off your estate or something?

Darcy – No.  I’m friends with the Gardiners.  Come on in, everyone.  Elizabeth, you can meet my sister.  I think she would like you.

Darcy’s Estate:
Georgiana – My brother likes you, Elizabeth.  He’s very nice.  Some times he gets things wrong, but he really does try to put it right.

Elizabeth – Huh.  What about Mr. Wickham?

Georgiana – I was young and stupid and thought I was in love.

Elizabeth – You were young?  You’re only sixteen now.

Georgiana – I know.  He was only out for my money, and Fitzwilliam helped me realize that before I actually married Wickham.  You should give my brother a chance.

Elizabeth – Oh, all right.

–this goes pretty well until scandal erupts!!–

Aunt Gardiner – Oh, no!  Elizabeth, I just heard Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham!

Elizabeth – Oh, no!  This will really make the family look bad.  We’ve got to find her before she does something even stupider!  And here I was trying to start over again with Mr. Darcy and my stupid family gets in the way again!

–But all works out as Lydia does indeed turn up with Mr. Wickham and they are legally married!  And as a bonus Bingsley calls up Jane, apologizes for ditching her, and they announce they’re getting married!–

Elizabeth – Well, I’m talking to myself because I’m the only sensible person in my house.  Jane’s not depressed but Mom’s just freaking out over the wedding plans.  The Gardiners must have paid off Wickham and now there’s no way we can repay that debt.  I wonder if I can try to be friends with Mr. Darcy again.

Lady de Bourgh – Oh, hello, Elizabeth.  I must speak to you about a most desperate matter.

Elizabeth – Um, okay.

Lady De Bourgh – I’m afraid my dear, sweet, misguided nephew might actually ask you to marry him!

Elizabeth – Yeah, about that…

Lady de Bourgh – And that would be perfectly awful!  You’re quaint but such a peasant that I’m going to have to ask you to promise not to marry my nephew if he asks.

Elizabeth – With all due respect, you can stuff your request up your aristocrat!

Lady de Bourgh – Well, I never had any peasant talk to me like that!  I have money, damn it!

Later:
Elizabeth – Yeah, I’m pretty sure I hate everyone now.

Darcy – Even me?

Elizabeth – Why should I not hate you?

Darcy – I told my bro Bingsley I was all wrong about Jane.  He was pretty mad at me, but they got it worked out, right?

Elizabeth – Yes.

Darcy – And I was the one that found Lydia and Wickham and paid Wickham to marry Lydia.

Elizabeth – That would be a totally awful thing to do if my sister didn’t totally deserve a guy like that, and it saved my family.  So, maybe you’re not such a bad guy.

Darcy – Great!  Will you marry me?

Elizabeth – Um, I think your aunt will have a fit.

Darcy – Oh, yeah, she will, but so what?  I think I love you, and she can stuff it up her aristocrat.

Elizabeth – Well, all things considered, I’m not sure if I can love a guy I don’t know very well, but hey, I’m willing to give it a try.

Darcy – So that’s a yes?

Elizabeth – That’s a yes, Fitzwilliam.

Essay Section:
I know Austen’s writing is probably too subtle for most people.  This story is as melodramatic as a soap opera but is written in a restrained manner so the melodrama is somewhat subdued.  The love story is much more believable than “Romeo and Juliet.”  However, I’ll grant that Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship is still fairly rushed.  They spend a couple of months bickering while her primary concern is her ill sister, so that’s not exactly quality time.  They don’t see each other for months and suddenly he’s confessing his love and desire to marry her.  That’s not very believable.  It’s important to note the story takes place more or less from Elizabeth’s point of view, so the narration isn’t entirely reliable.  So she tells Darcy off, and he gets introspective and decides that good looks and wealth aren’t enough to make up for being a stuck-up jerk.  Darcy’s transformation into someone tolerable was genuine, and Elizabeth learned that people can occasionally change for the better.  Yes, everything does tie up perhaps too neatly, and perhaps Elizabeth rushed into marriage at the end, but she did have the lesson of her friend Charlotte as a warning.  I think the template of “hate at first sight” is overdone based on the actual story, and I think too many romances make the male lead too much of a jerk to be forgiven.

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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

4 thoughts on “Stuff I Read in High School (in Fifteen Minutes) – Pride and Prejudice”

  1. I think I just don’t get Jane Austen. I tried reading “Pride and Prejudice”, I really did, but it just wasn’t able to hold my interest. Mr. Darcy also annoyed me as well, as he reminded me too much of the “jerk with a heart of gold” stereotype that has little no basis in reality.

    That being said, I really do want to watch the British miniseries “Lost in Austen”, about a fan of the book who ends up swapping places with Elizabeth Bennet and begins wreaking havoc with the narrative because of her knowledge of events and the histories and personalities of the characters in it.

    And then, there’s this, which never fails to make me chuckle. 🙂

    http://theragingfanboy.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/death-before-dishonor/

    1. I know a lot of people find her style to be difficult to read. I think too the “jerk with a heart of gold” is so overused in pop culture that by the time most people get around to reading the actual story, if they do, it seems cliched and a rip-off, even though it’s older (although probably not the original use of the stereotype). I find the “jerk with a heart of gold” to have some basis in Austen’s reality. In a world where society is only allowed to interact in certain ways, people can’t really express themselves and everyone has certain expectations of everyone else’s motivations despite what they say. For example, Darcy assumed the women at Bingsley’s party were out for his money. That’s not kind, but it also wasn’t entirely untrue. Mrs. Bennet was a shameless gold-digger. Jane happened to actually be nice, but Darcy didn’t see it because he didn’t expect it from Jane’s social class or in how Jane was behaving because she wasn’t really allowed to express herself.

      I think “jerk with a heart of gold” works better in a context like Austen’s world and not so much a modern setting where people are more allowed to say what they mean.

  2. I think “jerk with a heart of gold” works better in a context like Austen’s world and not so much a modern setting where people are more allowed to say what they mean.

    My problem is more that many women I’ve run into seem to think a lot of guys like Mr. Darcy exist, that jerks can be changed into decent people, or that peeling away enough layers of jerk will gain you access to the sweet golden center when it’s usually just douche all the way to the core. And shallow creatures like Mrs. Bennet and Lydia drive me nuts.

    Yes, I’ve managed to filter my personal life through Austen, and it’s made her unreadable. 😛

    1. I understand. I also note that the part where Elizabeth tells Darcy to leave her the hell alone is often overlooked and it isn’t until he’s proven he’s changed that she accepts him. This is not an example of a woman being attracted to a jerk and trying to change him into a decent person; he changed for her on his own accord.

      I think in modern times the satire of Austen’s story is completely lost and the romance is taken far too seriously. To borrow from “Shrek,” onions do have layers. But you know what you get when you peel away the outer layers? More onion! Likewise with jerks. Sure, there are layers, but why would the inside be so different from the outside? Or, as you said, “douche all the way to the core” 🙂 Still, I’m sorry that’s made P&P unreadable.

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