By Megan Powell, Lucy Carr, and Hannah Spruce
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) follows Elizabeth Bennett and the romance with the infamous Fitzwilliam Darcy. The Bennett’s are a country family juxtaposed to Darcy’s aristocracy, which impedes any hope of an attachment. Elizabeth learns not all is as it seems and comes to realise one mustn’t make haste in judging based on appearance. Mainly, she learns the difference between artificial kindness and genuineness. This revelation allows for the romantic novel to come into play, providing an honest commentary on marriage, family, and society of the time.
This is a beloved classic and a groundbreaking piece of literature. If you are looking for an introductory novel to classics then this is a great choice. To make this more accessible to readers who may find classics difficult - or if you want to expand your love of Pride and Prejudice - here are some adaptations that we recommend.
BBC Pride and Prejudice TV Series (1995)
Passionate fans of Pride and Prejudice appear to be divided with the 1995 TV Series and 2005 motion picture. At the centre of this argument lies the portrayal of Mr Darcy and in this, Colin Firth appears to epitomise Austen’s character. This miniseries has been praised for being the most accurate representation of the classic novel, but of course this is owed to the nature of the adaptation. Within a miniseries there is more potential to cover all vital aspects and what appears to be neglected in other adaptations, especially that of Mr Wickham. The pace of the story steadily progresses, crucially developing the characters and their interactions. This is a pivotal aspect that must be captured to completely understand the dynamic between Elizabeth and Darcy. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth’s chemistry radiates in each scene, providing an accurate visual to what Austen may have intended. Needless to say, this adaptation is truly spectacular and the added extra of the lake scene is a welcomed bonus.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Joe Wright’s 2005 charming version of Pride and Prejudice still manages to convey the humour, romance and drama at the core of the novel. Matthew Macfadyen portrays a more awkward and vulnerable Mr Darcy, opposed to Keira Knightley’s youthful and feisty take on Elizabeth Bennett. The film is elevated by its stunning visuals and costuming, alongside the truly romantic scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth, which successfully portrays the intensity of their relationship. Similarly, the depictions of Elizabeth’s friendships with Charlotte and Jane, and Mr Darcy’s with Mr Bingley adds depth and realism to the characters. However, the Mr Wickham storyline is underdeveloped in comparison to the 1995 adaptation, which makes his betrayal appear less impactful. The true strength of this version therefore lies in the undeniable chemistry between the two leads and its focus on family dynamics. Overall, this version presents the story in a digestible and romantic way, which gives it an undeniable rewatchable quality.
Lost in Austen (2008)
Pride and Prejudice is truly the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to adaptations, and with the story’s iconic status and timeless popularity, numerous adaptations have opted to put a modern twist on this beloved classic. Lost in Austen is one such show; a completely binge-worthy, fun series for any Pride and Prejudice fan. The 2008 miniseries completely indulges in the fantasy almost all avid book readers contemplate once in a while - what would it be like if I suddenly existed in the world of my favourite book? Jemima Rooper stars as Amanda Price, a Jane Austen fan who finds a hidden door into the world of Pride and Prejudice and swaps places with its heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. With Amanda’s presence in the story, unforeseen events are set in motion and the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred. Lost in Austen doesn't take itself too seriously, it is extremely meta (which is great fun if you know the story well) and a creative take on Austen’s classic which is pure indulgence.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is perhaps one of the most interesting and unique takes on Austen’s story, which is saying something considering Pride and Prejudice and Zombies exists. The 100 episode YouTube series reimagines Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of Lizzie (Ashley Clements), a 24 year old graduate student who begins a vlog series to document her life as part of a thesis project. The series retains the essence of the story’s original characters whilst placing them in a refreshing contemporary context. In 2013, it became the first YouTube series to win a Primetime Emmy, a groundbreaking feat, and it’s still available on YouTube for you to rewatch again and again. This underrated gem is an absolute must see for any Pride and Prejudice fan - it is humorous, heartfelt and completely innovative. Who would have thought Austen could be adapted so well in blog form?