The Cost Of Love

Jan 26 2013 @ 5:35pm

John Walsh finds the intersection of romance and class distinctions part of Pride and Prejudice‘s appeal:

It’s hard for [Lizzie Bennet] to accept that Darcy is right about her family’s low status, and the social unsuitability of their union. But in the book’s climactic scene, when Lady Catherine De Bourgh explains to Lizzie why she should not presume to marry Darcy (her nephew), pride flashes a sudden fin in Lizzie’s heart and she does just that.

Readers everywhere have cheered at this happy outcome. Successive generations have closed the book regretfully, sorry to leave the chattering, fretful, quarrelsome, scheming, romancing community of the novel behind. And some have pondered the paradox that such a legendarily romantic work should be centrally concerned with money, wills, land and great estates.

Cynthia Haven notes the real-life romance behind Austen’s writing:

Walsh explores Jane Austen’s brief Christmas romance with the charming Tom Lefroy in 1795. “I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together,” she teased her sister in a letter. The gentleman’s family was alarmed, and whisked him back to the bar (no, not that kind of a bar – the legal profession). He was expected to become a barrister and pull the family’s economic sled, otherwise others might have to get off their duffs and work.