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by teena.
Rated: 13+ · Critique · Educational · #866078
Evaluation of classics and their writers by some of the members.
This informative critique is collected from my forum "Invalid Item. the contributers are:




Mavis Moog


"Pride and Prejudice"

have no idea why Pride and Prejudice is considered a classic other than the fact it is old. Many books are well written. Many books capture an era and a time. That does not make them classics in my opinion.

Let's look at what the story is about:


The plight of the rich in a class system.

Boo-hoo on both counts.

It's not that stories have to be about the poor to be interesting, and it's not that love stories can't be interesting...but when the plight of the rich is a bi-product of their money, I'm less than compelled to invest emotionally with the characters. If, say, they were struggling with special moral issues that only the rich confront, then I'd be more interested.

The book is about a rich lady who has nothing better to worry about than who to marry. What a nice problem to have, when you think about it. How egocentric! The only thing she has to worry about is her own happiness. Personal happiness is important, no doubt, but I think it's foolish to believe that long term happiness comes only from selecting the "perfect" mate. For one, no such thing exists. Secondly, a successful marriage is based on cognitive devotion and trust, and isn't egocentric in nature.

A person that is otherwise mature and happy will find happiness in marriage...but a shallow person, like Elizabeth, would be left unhappy and unfulfilled in real life.

So, it's my opinion that Pride and Prejudice fails to achieve literary greatness on these levels:

Intellectual honesty.

Moral lessons to be learned.

Complexity and honesty in world-view the book is written from.


The best case scenario that I can see for anything of Jane Austin's is that it preserves what Victorian life was like. gruveb

i have studied it in more conventional pattern. considering Jane Austen's bio one can see her scope was limited. living in such remote and kind of lonely life all she could have the matrimonial issues.

her main theme lies on the plot of 'marrige'. three types are discuss.

1. marrige of covinence.
2. marrige with full understanding and love, {elizbeth and darcy}
3. infatuation.

apart from it masonry issue is also there. its also a fact anyways that, the whole book revolves around this issue. but what can you expect in such a small area. with typical people like Bennet's.

for one thing i think they were not rich, they dont have their own property, and therefore, Mrs. Bennet's concern for her daughters seems eligeble. and i think Elizbeth stood out to be sensible girl in her conventional surrounding but speaking of today i think it is not possible, i agree with you on this point.

apart from this i enjoyed this nove to its great potential. teena.

First, what you have to understand about Pride and Prejudice, and indeed all classic books is the context. If you read P&P from the standpoint of our 21st century mindset, you're bound to be disappointed. I know I was the first time I read it. In Austen's time, social class was everthing. Women were dependent on marrying well for their future. Women of the Bennet's standing did not work for their money. If desperate, they might have become governesses, but nothing lower than that. Even becoming a governess was a dedgredating (as you can see from the tumult caused by Jane Fairfax's announcement in Emma). Outside of their husband or father, women did not exist. A perfect example in P&Prejudice is the entailment of the Bennet estate to the male line. Today, any of Mr. Bennet's 5 daughters could have legally inherited it. Back then, that was not possible. The daughters were given a dowry, meant to induce favorable prospects like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley to win their hand. Elizabeth's problem is that she has 5 sisters and her father's fortune is stretched thin between them. If they do not marry reasonably well, at the death of their father, they are completely on their own. That's why there's nothing more for Elizabeth to worry about in this novel because it is in fact a very big thing to worry about!

Elizabeth's conflict is that she knows that she should marry for money, but she would very much like to marry for love if she can find it. The reader sees a very eligible and rich bachelor in Mr. Darcy but, at first, a dull personality. In my opinion, Elizabeth proves that she knows better than to marry for money because she rejects Darcy completely the first time he asks her. A young woman like Elizabeth could hardly expect to be asked twice in her lifetime (considering her social circle) by a man as rich as Darcy. She knew she was basically condemning herself when she rejected him.

What I admire most about Jane Austen is her complexity of characters. I have rarely found an author in the modern age whose psychological insight was so acute.

(One small factual error: Jane Austen wrote in Gregorian England, not Victorian. Gregorian is the era of the American Revolution and of Napoleon Bonaparte.) rose_shadow

You wrote," If you read P&P from the standpoint of our 21st century mindset, you're bound to be disappointed."

Isn't a book that can transcend its era what makes it a classic?

How about Bartleby or Moby Dick? That's at least as era specific as P&P, yet they tackle issues of a deeper complexity and that is why they are true classics, in my opinion.

It doesn't matter if the book was written in the 12th century, classics defy their age, that's why they are classics. Pride and Prejudice, in my opinion, fails to address substantial issues. That's why I say it is not a classic; and it has nothing to do with Victorian setting.

I'm not trying to state that I am right, it's just my opinion. But I do want to make it clear that my opinion is not based on the era of the book, which is how I suspect my objections to the book have been classified.

If I'm wrong, I at least want to be wrong for the right reasons. gruveb

I think you and I might have misunderstood each other . You have to take the historical context into consideration when reading P&P, but the story itself does "transcend its era". Otherwise, 'Briget Jones' Diary' (a modern retelling of P&P) would have been a complete flop as a book and a movie, but it wasn't and remains popular.

Trying to compare Melville and Austen is like comparing F. Scott Fitzgerald to J.R.R Tolkien. They wrote in different eras and with different intentions. Austen poked fun at the social ettiqutte of her day; Dickens showed the plight of the poor; Flannery O'Connor shows the importance of grace. All authors write about different things; thank goodness. Otherwise I'd be bored to tears in literature class.

As for 'issues of deeper complexity', that means many Shakespearean plays aren't classic. In his day, plays were a dime a dozen. Playwrights were very common and most of Shakespeare's plays aren't even from original ideas. "Othello" is based off an old story; "A Midsummer Night's Dream" includes characters from folktale and Greek mythology; "Romeo and Juliet" was a story that had been circulating for years, as was "Hamlet". Many of these plays are very simple. There's not earth-shattering lesson to be learned or philosophical issue to be unraveled. It's simply life at its worst and best. Shakespeare had the advantage of crossing many social boundaries; he knew poverty but he had performed in front of royalty. Austen, a country clergyman's daughter and a spinster, had no such luxeries. She wrote about what she knew, which is why there aren't a wide variety of settings in her works.

It's interesting you use the word "complexity", because I find Austen very complex. Mostly in her characters' personalities, but the plots can be as well. I'm more of character-person than a plot person though; If a person is interesting enough, I'll probably stick with a book. Case in point, recently I was just about to give up on Terry Brooks' "The Sword of Shannara" when a fascinating character appeared... I forget his name at the moment but he had an iron pike for a hand. I just remember that out of the entire book, only he had captured my interest enough to make me finish it.rose_shadow

I'd say that Bridgette Jone's diary is popular for the same reason P&P is popular. That doesn't make it a classic, to me. And let me be clear that there are a lot of absolutely brilliant stories that are good for a long, long time, but are not classics. Let me explain.

When I say complexity, what I'm referring to isn't the quality of the writing, or the realistic nature of the characters. If that was what complexity was, Elmore Leonard's books would be classics. As it stands, they're just entertaining stories.

No matter how much I can see and hear and feel the characters in a Leonard book, or any other extremely strong character-based story, it doesn't cross into what I consider a great book if I'm not at least challenged to reflect on something of substance.

In order for this to happen, something, let's say love for sake of argument, must be approached in a way that is revealing, honest and complete. In P&P, the only subject really approached worthy of serious consideration is love, but the book fails to disclose anything other than milk-toast about the subject.

The story may be good, but to me, that's not what seperates classics from old good stories.

I think the disagreeance (sp) is hinged on symantics, the word classic.

Here's my definition, my criteria:

A classic is a story that challenges my opinions or beliefs on a subject. A classic should make me think and consider applying what I've thought about to my own life. gruveb

it seemed that we already had a hot debate over this book being a classic or not. but i want to add little comment of my own.

first of all i agree with Moira for i have studied this book in similar lines. Apart from it as Moira also pointed out that, there is ,in depth charachter potrayal. somehow universally speaking one can study Women's psychi through different charachters.

i still beleive that in remote areas, in such circumtances, one would behave like Bennets. if you are talking about 21 century, even then you can not rule out the backward and remote society still dealing with such issues.teena.

I am not a fan of Jane Austen. When I was teaching English in a private school in England I had long debates with the head of the department about the merits of Austin.

There is no doubt that she tells a good tale and draws attention to some issues, such as; snobbery, class-structure, virtue and honour. These issues, while interesting, are not ground-breaking. Other authors covered similar issues and in a less predictable way.

George Eliot, I know came later, but in her novel Adam Bede, she investigates many of Austen's pet themes with a far brighter light. Gustave Flaubert, a contemporary of Eliot's, in Madame Bovary also wrote more shockingly about honour, class and virtue.

It could be argued that these writers stood on the shoulders of Austen but, in truth, her themes were already well represented in Chaucer and Shakespeare, not to mention Walter Scott.

A classic novel for me, is one that opens up new areas of morality or experience. This needs to be done with skill and in a memorable way. Austen's work is very good at portraying the society of her age. It was a time when women had no property of their own and romance and marriage was an essential part of their lives. No surprises here then for her subject matter.

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover are all good examples of classic novels. They examine important issues in innovative ways.

I feel that Jane Austin was too much the product of her age. Her stories are read today, by those who like to escape to an era of chivalry, romance and gentility, not by those who want to explore the more urgent aspect of life. These greater issues are timeless.

My head of Department would say she was a brave woman to write about the woman's lot. The Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice were a dramatic illustration of the social inequalities of the time. Exactly; of the time.

Alfred Lord Tennyson ranked Austen alongside Shakespeare. I have often despaired of the quality of some of our poet laureates; but I do like Tennyson's poem, "The Eagle".

I hope my point of view is of some interest in this debate.Mavis Moog

"For Whome The Bell Tolls"

I didn't enjoy the book, and I didn't HAVE to read it for a class. I read it on my own. Hemingway's style is excellent, but often his content leaves me thirsty. It's a political book, which can be alright, but I never felt any kinship with the main character. The most interesting characters was the wife of the leader of the outfit the maincharacter stays with (can't remember her name now).

There are some great scenes in the book, but much of it isn't all that wonderful. I DID finish it though, and I have no problem with NOT finishing a book or story. gruveb

I agree with you, GruveB. For me, this book was a struggle to get through. There were several suspenseful scenes, but once the moment passed I felt as though I plodded along through too many long passages of exposition and political "insight" to get to the next intriguing part.

I thought the interaction and tension among the characters at their camp site was the best part about this novel. The final climactic scene, when it did finally come, started out with a bang (no pun intended), but then was dragged out a bit much for my tastes. And though I liked how Hemingway ended the book with the same scene he began with, I found the overall conclusion unsatisfying.

"A Tale of Two Cities"


one of my favourite novel. it is the vivid presentation of french revolution. i find it engrossing, as well as depresive at times. it also posses dark humour which clouds the mood till end. i simply loved it.

will add to it more.teena.

Written by Charles Dickens, one of my favorite authors, A Tale of Two Cities is an outstanding novel set in France and England in the late 18th century. Folks worry nowadays about the problems in American society (and most other societies and cultures, I assume), but you haven't seen anything until you've attended one of the many daily public beheadings that took place during the French Revolution. Shocking stuff.

As with all Dickens' novels, he paints an incredible picture of the times and draws you into the story with his characters. It's been several years since I read it, and I can still see Doctor Manette and his obsessive shoe-making routine, and Madame Defarge and her secretive knitting habits (if you haven't read it, I know that sounds strange, but just wait and see )

Playing on themes like sacrifice, escape and resurrection, and oppression and poverty, Dickens' immerses his reader in a bygone time that serves to entertain as well as educate. The ending, in my opinion, was nearly perfect, although as with most of Dickens' writings, a little heavy on the melodrama...but that's okay, if you've read anything of his, you come to expect it and embrace it.

By the way, Tale of Two Cities is my second favorite Dickens novel. David Copperfield is at the top of my list - if you haven't read that one, check it out

I think CD is a much maligned writer. His work was so important in the detailing of 19th century London life.

Most of his books are set in the underworld of 1820s London and there was a campaigning aspect to his work. If it was not for Dickens, much of the poverty and deprivation, colourful and vibrant as it was, would not have been acknowledged.

The Tale of Two Cities is especially interesting because it tells the story, from the street, of the French Revolution. It is a different subject for Dickens. He starts the book with the famous lines: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.." This sums up his attitude to revolution. It seems he would not have been averse to a little English revolution, in theory. He then goes on to scare the living day-lights out of anyone who happened to be considering it.

We still have our aristocracy and royal family, here in England. I am not sorry about that, because we do not have the level of poverty and deprivation that we had in 1820s (although for some, it could be argued, it is not much better). I like the aristocracy, they add a certain layer of interest to our society. It was very funny and depressing to hear Princess Michael of Kent telling us that she was not a racist because she had once dressed up as an African and that she had a great fondness for "those" people. As people who do not seem to have any understanding of the modern world, I think the aristocracy should be cherished in the great British tradition of eccentricity. Just don't let them vote, much less, have seats in the House of Lords.

Back to Dickens: He wrote with a poet's eye and a journalists accuracy. His wonderful characters live in our imaginations for ever. Once met; never forgotten.

Pickwick Papers is one of my special favourites. It was written as a series of newspaper articles and has a rambling, richness due to this. Pickwick Papers is a book one can dip into, read cover to cover or keep by the loo for episodic fun.

Yes, Dickens was a classic novellist. Mavis Moog


i have read it and loved it. the cruel obsession of madam defarge is striking feature. i specially liked the allusion technique. the sacrifice and resurrection at the end of the tale by hero gives out great and hopeful message. all the bloodshed is gruesome but also darkly shadows the novel.

my favorite seen is of "wine splilled, in the street"
it hold the essence of the novel.

i had already seen its movie too.teena.


thanks for adding your insight. this novel reall intrigued me till the end. it got class and spontanity to grasp its reader. it was published in series as i have studied. recently saw a program on charles dickens life on bbc prime. the confession of love by hero to Lucy. it infact mirrors charles love for his admirer. it was inteesting to know such bit.

however its more on a revolution then a love story. what i think of it is the "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

will try to read his other novels too.teena.

"Return of the Native"


This book i read by skipping the descriptive parts occasionally, yet i liked it. The charachter of Eustacia is enchanting one, the desciption of her majestic beauty is interesting and alluring.

the tragedy of this strong minded bewitching beauty, took my sympathy at the end.

the romantic dialouges are quatoble as tradational the are. Theme of fate and destiny rulling the life of man is a conventional theme of Hardy. Heath playing the role of destiny really gives the depth to this novel. Infact it also invokes the predictable end of the charachters as such pople against heath were destined to destruction i.e Eustacia and Wildeve.

I had also seen its movie and it was wonderful.

"Heart of Darkness"


this book really caught my interest, beacause of abundance of symbolic and dark imagery used in it. the theme is truly classic for it can be recognized in every era. "Darkness in the heart of man," this theme has wide scope, however, it is very successfully composed in this book.

Apart from main theme, several other themes are also explored in it. Like, "Mechanization of man", "Darkness in the land". "journey of man," "Dehumanization"

the message that the manipulators, became the victim of their own torture and dehuman state, in the end is really thought provoking. This warning is applicable in every era.

i liked this book for its undisputable theme and the work of symbols in it.teena.

"To The Lighthouse"

I had to read this book my sophomore year for a literature class. My feelings are mostly ambivelent. I liked Mrs. Ramsey and so was sad to see her disappear in the second part of the book. But the characters were vivid; even now, they are what I remember most about the book.

I read To the Lighthouse in college in a course called "Modern Genres."

I remember loving the book, and I really identified with Lily. I think it was partly because of her role as the "creative-type," as she was a painter. She was worried about her work being remembered or even valued, which I think we all, as writers, sometimes worry about. Also, I liked that she questioned the "traditional" role of a woman, a role that was accepted and embraced by Mrs. Ramsey.

I know I wrote a paper for that class about Lily and Mrs. Ramsey.spidey

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I have studied this novel in modern literature. The charachter of Mrs. Ramsay left lasting impression on readers mind. She was like a prism through which we study diverse charachterstics of the other charachters connected to her. Her death mentioned like an ordinary death, nothing dramatic, also lends the twist much intensity rather if it would be dramatized.

The first and last part of the novel is connected techniquelly by closing the first part with night and starting the end part with day, {which makes it look the next day after the night}. Through this the free threads of connections, relations and issues are knotted down smoothly in third part.

{Anyone interested in having an essay on this issue "How first and third parts are connected" can ask for it.}teena.

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