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An Open Letter to Jane Austen

Alyssa Goodnight and Stiletto Storytime teamed up to host a Pride & Prejudice 200th Anniversary Party Hop. There are over 70 blogs participating and I encourage everyone to check out the participants since each post will be slightly different and a few are hosting giveaways as well! How do you plan to celebrate the occasion?


Dear Jane:

Congratulations! Today marks 200 years of Pride and Prejudice‘s publication. 200 years in which girls have fallen in love with Darcy and wishing we had our own. Generations of women have formed friendships because of their love for the book. Mothers and daughters bond over discussions and of course seeing the adaptations. One cannot forget the first time we read Pride and Prejudice nor can we forget our very first screen Darcy (mine is Laurence Olivier).

A lot has changed socially since your book’s publication. Women attend university and have the right to vote. Single women no longer have to rely on their male family members to provide for them since we now can earn our own living and depend solely on ourselves. Family members still pester a few regarding marriage, but it is acceptable to remain single should our own Mr. Darcy never arrive. Although some women still do marry for money, a majority of women in today’s society marry for love. It is also acceptable to set up our own household and live alone as well as travel alone.

Pride and Prejudice has sold over 20 million copies since its initial publication. It’s been adapted for stage, film, and even television. You’re probably wondering what film or television is and this is the best I can describe it: think of it as a play, but instead of a stationary stage, there are moving pieces. These pieces are recorded frame by frame to create a moving picture. Pride and Prejudice also has inspired authors to write their own version based on your plot.

My favorite Pride and Prejudice television / film adaptation is the Andrew Davies production of 1995. It stars Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. It also inspired the Lost in Austen adaptation to feature the famous lake scene from the 1995 version, where Amanda asks Mr. Darcy to emerge himself in the water as Colin Firth had done.

These adaptations also expand on Darcy’s proposal since you didn’t actually give us his entire speech. I really like the 1995 proposal:

In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. In declaring myself thus I’m fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgment. The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection. Indeed, as a rational man I cannot but regard it as such myself, but it cannot be helped. Almost from the earliest moments of our acquaintance I have come to feel for you a passionate admiration and regard, which despite my struggles has overcome every rational objection, and I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife.

We learned a lot from Pride and Prejudice. You taught us to stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. Family members may embarrass us on occasion, but they are still family. Things may look dire and we think we’ll never recover from a situation, but in the end we are stronger than we think we are and do recover. You also taught us to never settle for a Mr. Collins.
That there are always two sides to a story and even the most dashing man may have an ulterior motive. Through you we learned, that first impressions aren’t always what they seem and it is okay to change your mind. Most importantly you taught us, that he’s worth waiting for. When we finally meet our Darcy, he will do anything to make us happy even if involves facing his own past and knowing it is humiliating to him.

We owe a lot to you Jane. I do wish you could see the influence of not only Pride and Prejudice, but of all your books in our society. You should be proud of your accomplishment and how I wish I could turn back time and inform you not to sell your copyright, but alas that is not possible.

Thank you. Thank you for giving us a beautiful story; for the lessons learned and for the friendships formed.

Yours very affectionately,
Jessica

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4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Jane Austen

  1. So true! All of us learnt a lot from P&P. I so wish she could have at least seen what she accomplished. As always, she could have summed up the situation with one perfect sentence 😉

  2. Enjoyed your contribution to the hop..always love to see differnt points of view..on to the next stop

  3. That’s a great letter with such fun moments from different P&P adaptations. I giggled at the wet shirt video. Lost in Austen is such a fun mini-series.

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