Problems With Pride and Prejudice?

Like Mary Poppins, Jane Austen novels are practically perfect in every way.

PD_JamesAnd so is one of my favorite authors, P. D. James, creator of the Adam Dalgleish mysteries. Though, she sees problems.

From the Huffington Post: Apart from describing the life at Pemberley and the process of the investigation, I have dealt with what I feel are two problems in Pride and Prejudice.

Firstly, the extraordinarily ungallant and unacceptable words in which Darcy first proposed to Elizabeth, and secondly, why he took from school Georgiana, his fifteen year old sister, nervous and recently bereaved of her mother, and placed her in the sole care of the abominable Mrs Younge.

Jane Austen may have made all this plain in the original draft of the novel, but it was sixteen years before the revised version was published in 1813.

What do you think? Serious problems or just little threads not tied?

Take care–Susan Kaye

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12 thoughts on “Problems With Pride and Prejudice?

  1. Sophia Rose

    I haven’t read PD James’ book on this, but I have to say that I always wondered why Jane had Darcy pull his sister out of school too. The botched proposal made sense to me knowing how things were for people back then since Darcy is of good family and breeding while Lizzy’s family is a mess and connected to trade. I look forward to seeing what the Ms. James has to say about it though.

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      All of us who write Austen fiction depend on the white space and on these instances where Jane slurred over the plot for her own reasons.

  2. Gayle Mills

    I’ve never seen either of these things as a problem. Maybe Georgiana wanted to leave school. Maybe she didn’t like the girls she was around. Maybe George Wickham was already in full-seducer mode and was encouraging her to leave. Maybe Darcy and Fitzwilliam were trying to shelter her in her time of grief over the loss of her father. Who knows? Doesn’t really matter.

    I have P.D. James’s book. Now I need time to read it.

  3. Laura Hile

    … secondly, why he took from school Georgiana, his fifteen year old sister, nervous and recently bereaved of her mother, and placed her in the sole care of the abominable Mrs Younge.

    Jane did it to further the plot, of course!

    Although, thinking back to being 15, that was, what, 9th grade? The high school social scene, even at an all-girls seminary, has its seamy side, All those girls, catty and coy and competitive, with emotions in overdrive, living together?

    A quiet tutor at home for sensitive Georgiana, an unremarkable trip to the seashore…and even Elizabeth Bennet was taken in by Mr Wickham’s charms!

  4. Susan Kaye Post author

    I don’t have much trouble with Darcy’s ham-fisted proposal. Wentworth does some mighty fine word manglin’ his own self.

  5. Robin Helm

    The only “problem” I have had with the P & P plot is the unlikely coincidence that Darcy turned up at just the right moment in Ramsgate. One day later would have been too late.

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Most Romances rely on a coincidence or two. And they do happen in life. Austen, I think, relies on coincidence because in small towns and villages they do happen with a great deal of frequency. Persuasion is riddled with them.

  6. davepear

    First, a disclaimer: the only PD James book I’ve read has been “Death Comes to Pemberley”, which I didn’t like at all. That may make me less likely to value her opinion. ;) Having said that, I don’t agree with her on either point. If Darcy had behaved “in a more gentleman-like manner” Lizzy never would have done more than politely refuse and he would have politely left. If she hadn’t been so offended he never would have known exactly why she disliked him, he never would have taken a good look at himself and found himself wanting, he never would have written the letter explaining himself, and there would not have been a happy ending. I prefer him temporarily self-centered and thoughtless than permanently separated from Lizzy. :)

    As regards Georgiana, we don’t know that she was recently bereaved of her mother (in fact, we have no reason to believe Lady Anne didn’t predecease her husband, and he died at least four years before Ramsgate), nor do we know that she was nervous before the debacle with Wickham, though she clearly was naive and probably was a very gentle girl. It is apparent that Darcy is a careful brother, so he must have had a good reason for removing her from school. This is only a flaw in the book if one assumes he removed her with no thought for her well-being.

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      You bring up a great point, davepear. I’ll stand up for James in that a mystery writer HAS to have all the chains linked. Her point about the proposal is not enough for me to be interested in, but I can say that there being no explanation for G. being in Ramsgate probably comes from the fact that a mystery with clattery plot leaves the author unread in the future.

      As for their being problems with P&P, I’ve read it twice, I like and watch the ’95 version occasionally so my conveying Ms James’s thoughts on the plot were for conversation’s sake. Shame on me and my indifference. o.O


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