I just saw a photo of an exhibit of an exhibit of paintings which Jane Austen might have seen. It spurred me to check if I had reviewed this monumental novel. I hadn't. I've read this novel at least 20 times and taught it to high school seniors at least four times. I just perused others' reviews. One reader, who gave it one star wrote , that it was a novel, "about nothing."
Isn't that what they said about Seinfeld ? As I sit here chuckling, I think of the wonderful similarities. Pride and Prejudice follows several middle class families. The Bennet's have five unmarried daughters . Mrs. Bennet's only occupation seems to be to try to broker marriages for Jane and Elizabeth. Mrs. Bennet is a comic and unsuccessful character. Her elder daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, captivate and ensnare two out of town gentry by their beauty and well drawn exceptional character. Yet, Mrs. Bennet's plotting and manipulations almost destroy her daughters chances of happiness and wealth.
Seinfeld is about a few middle class friends of marriageable age. Elaine, Jerry, George, Kramer and even Neuman are all dating,looking for dates and gossiping. I was not much of a fan, I only saw maybe 40 or so episodes, but certainly the Seinfeld's and Costanza's were meddling comic figures. Elaine, Jerry and George had more bad dates and dinners in the diner which were more about nothing than the food which was rarely served and never eaten. They plotted for themselves, but seemed to be even shallower and more foolish than Mrs. Bennet.
Most of our favorite sit coms are about nothing, if nothing means dating, financial hardships, family meddling, run aways, pride, black mail, vacations, gossip, and sometimes love. I'm sure I left out a few themes here. I have't read Pride and Prejudice in the last 5 years. Pride and Prejudice is iconic because Austen let her readers, millions and million and millions , in the last 200 years, see, and hear this typically, atypical family. We eat at the Bennet's table, dance at their parties, worry about their unmarried daughters, are privy to the hardship of primogeniture, feel the pain of condescension and family shame. I can only think that the reviewer I quoted is too myopic to see that this is truly what life is about. The beautiful paintings on the wall, like Austen's book are slices of life, nothing, people all dressed up, undressed, game, food, a house, a home, a garden, a bunch of flowers , nothing.