Pride and Prejudice: Lasting Impressions


It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has maintained social relevance for over 200 years. 

Pride and Prejudice, originally titled “First Impressions”, was published January 28th, 1813, and had its 210th anniversary a few weeks ago. The novel is a testament to Austen’s ability to characterize elements of popular society, classism, and hierarchies within social circles, all while encompassing a story about growth and, as the title suggests, overcoming pride and prejudice. 

In light of Valentine’s day, I will be revisiting some of the elements of Jane Austen’s work that have been so influential in popular culture, including its many adaptations, its creation of a new sector of sarcasm and irony within literature, and its lesser-known but equally important contribution to satirical literature.

Firstly, it’s essential to consider the extent to which Pride and Prejudice has been a crucial part of western popular culture. The novel has been adapted various times, each with a different take on elements from film scores to settings, to characterization. The 1995 and 2005 adaptations of Pride and Prejudice remain especially popular as depictions of the novel, and audiences remain divided over their opinion of the better film. Modern adaptations of the novel such as Bridget Jones’ diary and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries have also led to popular tropes within the genre of romantic comedies. 

However, the true influence of the novel goes far beyond these adaptations and flowery language. Austen had characterized a genre of literature as being innately humorous, satirical, and witty in an element that was far ahead of her time. From the singularly famous first line to Elizabeth Bennet’s characterization as an outspoken woman of the time, the novel had a profound impact on literature and English literature through its sarcastic remarks and wit. 

When it comes to the novel itself, the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy is characteristic of a story of growth, understanding, and overcoming social hierarchies, albeit in a subdued manner in all respects. The misjudgment of each character on their own part and the gradual understanding that comes to change their view on each other is what allows Austen to create a romance that does not take away from each character’s individuality or own dispositions. 

Ultimately, this combination of creating complex characters while commenting on social hierarchies through relationships demonstrates growth and understanding and creates socially relevant pieces of literature that have lasted the test of time, past over 200 Valentine’s days.