Why read Pride and Prejudice?

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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My experience as a high school English teacher has been that students find certain texts “boring” because of the language they are written in. P & P was written long ago and is in quite formal language, which makes it more difficult to access than Teen Vogue or Sports Illustrated. I find that in classroom discussions, when students become clear on the themes inherent in the novels, they often become engaged in spite of themselves, especially when the subject matter is timeless and the events are humorous. P & P is one of those works. The battle of the sexes, the purpose and meaning of love and marriage, and the boy meets girl plot have entertained readers for hundreds of years.

What I recommend is that students read one chapter of a novel like P & P then read a summary from a resource like eNotes. This helps to clarify the plot so that the reader doesn’t get lost in the language.

Good luck with your reading! I hope you enjoy P & P.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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What makes Pride and Prejudice such a good book is the craftsmanship of the novel (conflict, emotional arc, etc.), the immaculate language, the clarity of thought, the wit, the elegance of the story and the look at human motives and psychology. If you take your time and really read Jane Austen, you will have a better understanding of your language; you will have a better ability to utilize your language to express complex thoughts (or at least a better idea of what can be achieved and is available to be attained); you will have a deeper knowledge of how to live life; and you will have a better understanding of the psychology of life and how a person's psychological predispositions--if left unexamined--can thwart happiness and success. That's why Pride and Prejudice is such a good book. Take your time with it. It's not a hurry-up 21st century rush-and-get-it-done book. Relax with it; find Austen's rhythm.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Pride and Prejudice is important to modern readers because of its genre as a social satire.  So many of my students do not understand satire or even grasp when an author is being satirical.  For them, satire is Saturday Night Live and The Colbert Report.  While there is nothing wrong with modern satire, any honors or AP English student must be able to analyze satire because it plays a major role on College Board exams (the AP tests and the SAT).

That being said, I think the novel is witty and clever, and if a reader just takes the time to read the insults thrown back and forth between and about characters, he/she should see how funny the novel is. Even 21st century students participate in constant jibes at one another.  Pride and Prejudice is no different--it is just set in a different time period.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Pride and Prejudice and some high school seniors of the 21st century are liken to oil and water. Perhaps because the meaning of the novel cannot be possessed as quickly as a text message. Pride and Prejudice takes time to understand for it to have internal meaning. I think the time required for this type of novel translates to a boring book for some students simply because it takes 'too much time to get the results'.  Having said that, I assure you the revelance of Pride and Prejudice is as constant as the sunrise and sunset and worth taking the 'time' to read. The relationship between a man and a woman are extremely complex, and although by todays' standards the novel might appear dated it is not. The complexities between these two people are steeped in not only their own feelings but the ties that bind then to their own families. This is an often difficult situation among two people who love one another. However, whether it be the social misgivings of a time long gone, or the vulgarity that finds its way into the pressured relationships that exist today.  Pride and Prejudice teaches us to walk in anothers' shoes.  It's a great life lesson, which is why it is on your reading list in 2009.... the value of some lessons never go out of style...

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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think that Pride and Prejudice is an important text to read because of its exploration of emotional atmospheres and the connections between individuals.  Perhaps, as the other posts indicate, this is a compelling reason to read literature such as Pride and Prejudice.  The analysis of how human beings interact with one another, how we deal with complex issues such as love and loyalty, and how we see both ourselves and our social settings are reasons enough to read Capital "L"iterature.  The fundamental questions of our state of being in terms of who we are and what shall we do become the crux of all Literature, and are present in Pride and Prejudice.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Why not?  We as a society have become non-readers.  We are not disciplined enough to "get into" a story of any length, regardless of the interest level. Is this true of you?  We read classic literature because it is challenging.  We read it do improve our vocabularies, to enrich our lives (by knowing the classic allusions to this and many other classic pieces of literature that are made daily in commercials, cartoons, sit-coms--which you are missing because you aren't well-versed in the classics), and to get into the heads of characters in these books.  These books make us think.  They make us consider the situations of the people.  They make us reorder our thinking about issues like pride, prejudice, right, wrong, love, hate, morals, social mores, etc.  They make us better people for having gone through the same experiences the characters have gone through.  They're great stories.  Why do you thing Oprah is having such success with her revival of the classics book clubs?  Oh, and by the way, when you read classic literature often, you become a better writer.  Why?  Because the sentence structure is grammatically correct--unlike the texting, Facebooking, MySpacing, TV-watching, blogging, twittering bunch of people we have become in society.  We are, by nature, much lazier than we should be.  These books take energy and time.  They make us have to reorganize our leisure time which most students resent.  However, if you plan to be a better thinker, writer, speaker, communicator...you NEED these classic books. 

Happy Reading!

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I remember when I studied my BA in English and one of my lecturers dismissed this novel as being a form of Victorian "chic-lit" that is only really for women. As you can imagine, he was not very popular with my fellow students - both male and female. I guess one of the key aspects of Austen´s literature is her sense of social comedy - her ability to satirise and mock conventions of her day in the form of characters gives us a real insight into life in these times. Thus in Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Bennet is a complete caricature of a woman whose only goal in life is to get her daughters married off well, and will achieve this at any cost. We see life as a battlefield fought between mothers and daughters in drawing rooms over games of whist and dancing, where any attractive and financially solvent male becomes fair game. As such her writing is very funny but also has a strand of realism that makes us sympathise with Lizzy Bennet as she holds out for a marriage of love in such an environment.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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While working as an editor at Doubleday Publishing, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once wrote a foreword for a book published by the National Council of Teachers of English, in which she stated that "If you read great language, you will develop, without your realizing it, an appreciation of excellence that can shape your life."  Jane Austen's work definitely falls into the category of "great language."  The sentence structures, the word choice, and the rhythm of her prose is almost poetic in places.  Additionally, her social commentaries and satire on the human condition are priceless, providing many amusing, even laugh-out-loud moments.  I didn't really read Pride and Prejudice until a few years ago--I pretended to read it in high school as assigned--but when I finally read it, I was amazed at what a treat I'd missed!

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lhfscarlet | Student | eNotes Newbie

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I LOVE Pride and Prejudice. Being the first romace novel I actually got into, I would say that if people gave it a chance, they would most likely love it. While tutoring last year, one of my pupils was reading Pride and Prejudice last year, and finding it incredibly boring. Being a football player, I told him that I would help him understand it in the meanings of today's society. The paper he presented his teacher at the end of the book (thanks to a little help from his tutor) was comparing and contrasting the lives of the characters in the book to the high school he was in. It was extremely well written. Once he realized what a good book it was (after having it explained, and having each of the characters have different voices) he began enjoying it!

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dinu333 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

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Because it is one of the best and the most famous English literary romantic classics. I am only 15 but i really appreciate the author's efforts and if you really wanna know and read a good classical romance this is the ideal book....

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