It’s amazing how many hours of entertainment I’ve found in Jane Austen’s work. Pride and Prejudice and Emma, written over 200 years ago, still offer characters and situations so amusing and heartfelt that they made me giddy with excitement when I reached the pinnacles of each story.
But reading the original stories is not the only way to enjoy Jane Austen. Thankfully, the BBC has produced miniseries of each one (available on Amazon Prime), that made my reading experience far more satisfying.
Pride and Prejudice was my first introduction to Jane Austen. Admittedly, I had trouble visualizing the story at first, especially because of to the number of characters introduced in the first chapters (Elizabeth Bennett has four sisters, after all). But when I started the BBC version, my enjoyment improved dramatically; NOW I understood that all these characters are sisters; NOW I understood that Mrs. Bennett is, in fact, a very silly mother. The dialogue in the BBC version is almost completely preserved from the book, and the characters are perfectly cast. Mr. Darcy, portrayed by Colin Firth, is stolid and proud, and nothing short of dreamy. As a reader, I knew how it would all end. But the journey was still so, so fun.
By the end of the story Austen imparted to me a little truth, which is that Elizabeth Bennet, though headstrong and independent, is still by all measures, a lady. Considering the state of being female today, this is enough to make any woman stop and realize that being independent and empowered does not preclude one from being ladylike or, as Jane Austen would say, well-bred. In this way, Elizabeth Bennet should rank high with the likes of Wonder Woman and Princess Leia, as a strong female characters we ladies should all want to be like.