Pride & Prejudice and Twilight

Illustration by Kate Harpel.

Can you picture Elizabeth Bennet and Bella Swan exchanging laughter and giving each other relationship advice over tea and cookies? No, I think not.

The characters of Elizabeth and Bella are far apart as width can allow yet they share a unique bond and if each of their stronger traits intermingled, the universe would implode from the awesomeness. Okay, may be not implode but it would be pretty darn cool.

“From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.”

These are the words of the incredibly outspoken and witty Elizabeth Bennet from the famous Jane Austen novel, “Pride and Prejudice.” Elizabeth Bennet, also known as Lizzy, is one of the most vastly adored female characters ever portrayed in literature, and all this recognition is rightly due. “Pride and Prejudice” was written in an era when women were preferred to be genteel and quiet rather than outspoken and intelligent. Lizzy is anything but genteel and quiet in the novel and speaks her mind whenever she finds necessary.

“You…you don’t want me?”

These are the words of the always heartbroken Bella Swan from “New Moon,” the second installment of “The Twilight Saga.” The character of Bella Swan is known to be extremely awkward in social interactions and completely infatuated with the teenage-faced vampire Edward Cullen. Fans obsess over her and her love affair with Edward Cullen but some readers are not so fascinated with her lack of confidence and dependence on a man for ultimate happiness.

As polar opposites as Lizzy and Bella are, they both could learn some things from one another.

In “Pride and Prejudice,” Lizzy is of middle-class standing, yet many times she has the opportunity to mingle with the upper-class. A young woman of her standing would immediately feel inferior and embarrassed when conversing with the upper-class, yet she never seems to falter or show any signs of inferiority. Bella can barely talk to her dad and not feel inferior. But I guess we could cut her some slack since she does converse with blood-sucking vampires. Now that would make me a little nervous, too.

Bella is completely obsessed with Edward Cullen and cannot seem to live happily without his constant presence. She deems him as some sort of demi-god who “sparkles,” and he is extremely “beautiful” in her eyes, as quoted from “Twilight,” “There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.” Her complete disregard for dignity is apparent in her desperation for the approval of a man, whereas Lizzy completely dejects the man who seems to be “bewitched” by her.

Bella is so lost in Edward’s love that she forgets who she is and yearns to be a vampire, feeling she does not belong in a humanly state. Lizzy needs to sit her down, over tea of course,  and tell her that no man can change who she is, especially into an entirely different species.

As unsure Bella may be, she has a sense of trust and faith in her love which does not seem to falter through turbulent times. She has no sense of unjustly pride and prejudice against others that Lizzy so ardently bestowed upon poor Mr. Darcy. Lizzy’s judgment of Mr. Darcy was instigated by her confidence in her knowledge of his character yet she failed to truly recognize his nature.

Although Bella is a little too passive, she can advise Lizzy to loosen up a little and become more trusting and less judgmental of others even before she has received an opportunity to meet them.

Now is it a little easier to picture Elizabeth and Bella discussing men and relationships over tea and cookies? No. What about Mr. Darcy and Edward Cullen discussing women? Well, that is an entirely different story. Maybe next time.

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