It’s a delight to reread Jane Austen’s stories at different stages of my life. I see different things in them each time, and I understand and appreciate them in new ways as I get older. Last week, B and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t a planned part of this year’s celebration, but both of us just finished listening to the audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice. So of course, with this “reread,” and with our anniversary in mind, I particularly enjoyed the view of the many different marriages in the story…
Mr. & Mrs. Bennet … They’ve been married a long time, but Mr. Bennet’s choice of Mrs. Bennet was “imprudent.” He was taken by her youth and beauty, which we all know are fleeting, and now with both youth and beauty gone, they have settled into their separate lives, together.
Charlotte Lucas & Mr. Collins … Charlotte Lucas was already considered an old maid at age 27, so when the opportunity arose for a respectable marriage to Mr. Collins, she didn’t hesitate even though she found him “irksome.” She was loyal to and supportive of him, but encouraged his separate interests and activities away from her. And she loved running her own household, which was one of the freedoms gained by marriage.
Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner … The Gardiners are a sensible and loving couple. They reminded me of Admiral and Mrs. Croft in Persuasion — still very much in love after many years of marriage, they obviously respect each other, communicate well, work in harmony, and share their lives.
Jane & Mr. Bingley … are so well suited for each other! She is beautiful and humble, always thinking the best of people and situations. He is generous and good. They love each other deeply, and Jane Austen tells us that their marriage is a happy one.
Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy … They are such a wonderful couple, but each had to grow up first before they could realize how much they really loved each other. They are alike, yet different, intelligent and independent, and they end up having a deep respect for each other. Their complex relationship is, of course, my favorite one in the book.