by Kayla Tanenbaum, Glamour
Jane Austen’s timeless classic Pride and Prejudice turned 200 yesterday! We’ve all read the novel, swooned over Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC version (hello, clingy white shirt!), rooted for Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation, and laughed with Bridget Jones. We turn to Pride and Prejudice when our mothers drive us crazy, when our best friends have another dating disaster, and when some rude person insults us at a bar.
Needless to say, Austen is still everywhere and for good reason: She is the master of relationships and wit. “She pokes fun at the way society and the marriage market work,” says Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, From Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder. “And I think we can use a lot of that levity today because it’s really easy to take all that stuff super seriously.”
So, in honor Pride and Prejudice’s bicentennial, we’ve listed some relationship lessons, courtesy of Ms. Austen. Learning from inspiring women? Always a DO.
1) DON’T judge too harshly. First impressions are misleading. Everyone’s favorite literary couple would have never gotten together if they couldn’t move past their initial impressions of each other: Lizzy finds Mr. Darcy rude and conceited; he finds her socially beneath him and plain.
2) DO let him know when you’re interested. Jane Bennet’s shyness almost ruins her courtship with Mr. Bingley. Don’t be passive-confidence is sexy.
3) DON’T settle for what you don’t want, or for less than you deserve. Lizzy Bennet turns down two marriage proposals before finally finding happiness with Mr. Darcy. Compare her to her BFF Charlotte, who settles for the cringe-worthy Mr. Collins, with unhappy results. So here it is: Be with someone you want to be around.
4) DO be loyal. Even when you’re furious. Elizabeth and her family stand by her sister Lydia, even after her elopement nearly ruins the family’s social standing. So when your friend spills a secret or your coworker forwards an inappropriate email, remember all the times they’ve had your back.
5) DON’T underestimate the power of a love letter: We’re looking at you, Darcy.
And most of all…
6) DO trust yourself. It’s the ultimate Austenian lesson, from Pride and Prejudice all the way to Persuasion: A sense of self is the most important thing you can have, even if you have to screw up a bit to get there.
What life lessons have you taken away from Pride and Prejudice?