PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A CLASSIC MESSAGE I am writing this note to admit to the world that when it comes to reading

for pleasure I am a very eccentric reader. When I say eccentric I mean that as a black educated male I prefer to read books about women, in particular white women, written by women. This may appear to be strange to many people. However, being a male who is fascinated by the opposite sex it only seems natural for me to want to learn more about them. For me reading is one of the most intellectual and informative means of learning about female desires, hopes dreams, there similarities, differences and what the think about in largely masculine dominated world. I have read many books about females written by females for reasons I mentioned above. But I have always avoided Jane Austen books because I felt that, although I enjoyed reading about women, her books could never really interest me, since they were written two centuries ago about subjects that appear to be repetitive in other novels or boring such as romance and marriage. I recently had the opportunity to finally purchased Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice since it was the only book I could afford at the last time I was in Barnes and Noble. I was looking for Kristen Gore’s (daughter of Al Gore) debut book Sammy’s Hill on my reading list but I could not find it so I settled for a cheap bargain book which happened to be Pride and Prejudice. I was reluctant to buy it and read it at first, but my interest in literature by women and about women was able to overcome this reluctant attitude. Pride and Prejudice turned out to be a surprise for me while reading through it. It is a well crafted book about Marriage, Love and Manners but most of all I could really relate to its powerful message of reminding us all, as men and women, that you should never put away your love for someone who love you in return despite family members having a disapproval of that person or fear of others disapproval of who you decide to date, love or marry. The most significant scene for me in the book occurred when Lady Catherine de Borough comes to the estate of Elizabeth Bennet and her family to protest against her wealthy nephew Fitzwilliam Darcy (the male protagonist in Pride and Prejudice) supposed engagement to Elizabeth Bennett (the Heroine of Pride and Prejudice) because she is not of a social class well enough to marry her nephew and she wanted her nephew to marry her daughter. Lady Catherine adamantly tries to tell Elizabeth not to accept an “engagement” from her nephew because it would disgrace her family and Darcy’s reputation. “It is well. You refuse then (Mr. Darcy‘s marriage proposal), to oblige me. You refuse to obey claims of duty honour, and gratitude. You a determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world.” (p.298) Although she has not accepted a formal proposal of marriage to Mr. Darcy, in response to Lady Catherine’s wishes, Elizabeth does not give into the social or societal pressures of

others. (At the point in the novel, Elizabeth is secretly in love with Darcy, but it is not publicly known.) She remains steadfast with her reply: “Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude,” have any possible claim on me in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited (upset) by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment’s concernand the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn. (p.299)” This is such a meaningful climatic scene for me in this literary masterpiece. As a black man, I have known personally too many female friends of a different race from my own, who have chosen to avoid dating or falling in love with someone who loves them also simply because society, cultural traditions or family members objects to the idea of these women dating someone of a different race. It is very sad to know more than 45 years after the America civil Rights movement men and women, black and white, are still dealing with the issues of social class conflict or interracial dating due to family objections or unwritten rules about these topics. Austen reminds us through her literary works (such as Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion) that we as individuals should not let family members, race, religion or social class, (a more polarizing issue in England) dictate who we should fall in love with or marry. Elizabeth reply to Lady Catherine reminds us that if someone likes another person of a different social class or race they are not violating any ethical principles or “doing something wrong” simply because society, cultural traditions disagree with it. Furthermore, Elizabeth’s statements point out another simple truth: which is people should not worry so much about the worlds opinions on who they fall in love with or who they are dating because the chances are those people or foolish in they waste they time thinking and getting upset about someone else’s business. Most people in the world with common sense know it a waste of time to do so as Elizabeth correctly points out in her reply. Overall, I found Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to be a delightful surprise in keeping my interest in the story and discovering its timeless message about love taking priority over issues that polarize all of us such as social class, race. Through Pride and prejudice, Jane Austen revealed an important personal message to all of us in the end all that matters is who you love not what every one else thinks about who you should love. As Jane Austen once said “The mere habit of learning to love is the thing.” In the end that’s all that really matters because everyone like to be in love and being loved in return so why should we deny ourselves that.