So I don’t know if I've ever mentioned this on the blog before, but I was an English major in college. Because I read a book and I was like, “This is better than people.” Now, I’ve warmed up to people since then, but my first love has always been books. I chose English as my major because I wanted to be “well-read,” but after getting a Master’s degree in English, I learned that: A. I haven’t read anything, and B. By the time of graduating, I can barely just read something and be able to talk about it legitimately.
So I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite moments in all of college.
Let me set you the scene. When you're an English major at a mid-sized commuter university, there’s about 30 students in your class. No, wait, let me change that. There’s 29 girls. One boy. (Maybe 2. I think I even had one class with 3 boys. It was a miracle.)
If there’s one thing that all female English majors have in common, it’s that they have read the book Pride and Prejudice. It's pretty much the first thing you do when you discover that maybe you don’t just like books, you REALLY like books. It's the gateway drug to a degree in liberal arts. Even if you end up preferring other genres or authors, you have read P&P and you can adequately discuss it. But I'm going to guess at least 50% of girls who are English majors -- and not just English majors because they don’t know what else to be, girls who are English majors because they are actually obsessed with books -- would say P&P is their favorite book, or in the top 3.
Ok, I've set the stage. Now, this tale happens in a Romantics class. There are about 25 students, all women. The first book we get to read for this class is...P&P. Not sure why that is the case, because it is a truth universally acknowledged that every girl English major has read Pride and Prejudice to the point where we can recite it by heart, but whatever, that basically makes it a free week in this class.
Can we just all take a minute to appreciate how many good Darcy gifs there are.
Our prof has to waste all of our time doing a quick recap of the book just in case this is someone’s first day as an English major or something, so he is doing a quick relationship diagram of the book on the board. He's narrating what he’s doing, he isn't turning around, just furiously writing, and he says something about the "4 Bennet sisters."
We all brush it off, maybe a little giggle. Everyone makes mistakes.
And again, he repeats, the 4 Bennet sisters. And again, the 4 Bennet sisters.......
Anyone who has read this book knows there are 5 Bennet sisters. It's like, a major plot point of the book.
So we all start looking around at each other, like, are we gonna say something? Who has the guts to say something? And this is the thing, He Keeps Saying It. And every single time, we all wince. Are we just gonna, like, let this happen??
All the meantime he just keeps talking about the 4 Bennet sisters.
And I can tell Wendy -- this sweet little quiet girl in the back row who never spoke the whole semester -- starts to almost shake with anger. She can’t take it anymore. Finally, with her head down, she says -- almost yells --
"FIVE! There were FIVE Bennet sisters!"
The prof looks up from his board like a mole coming above ground. He adjusts his glasses by pushing them with his finger on the bridge.
Then he suddenly remembers. "Oh! Yes. Five Bennet sisters. So, as I was saying...." And just goes back to scribbling on the board.
But y’all, every time I think of that story, of our shared and silent class dilemma, the white in Wendy’s knuckles, how she literally never said another word after that moment the entire semester, I die laughing to myself. That’s all the story I got for today. Maybe next week we will be back to seriousness. Maybe.
Bonus Content! Alicia’s Definitive Ranking of Pride and Prejudice Adaptations:
1995 BBC Miniseries - It’s just…the best. If you disagree, you’re wrong. Colin Firth is Darcy FOREVER.
YouTube’s Lizzie Bennet Diaries - There are just so many things to love about this adaptation. They got so many things right, all told vlog-style (and, free! Forever!). You don’t even meet Darcy until like episode 60, and the suspense actually caused me pain. It’s the first adaptation to make Mr. Collins adorable and not despicable.
2005 Keira Knightly/Matthew McFayden movie - If you’ve never seen or read P&P, start with this adaptation. It’s swallowable - only about 2 hours - so you know if you’ll hate or love yourself by diving into the better (longer) versions.
Bride and Prejudice - The Bollywood P&P - I never realized that what was missing from P&P were musical numbers and the main family being Indian, but man, the Bollywood P&P is a FUN ride. The Indian culture brings a family dynamic that was true to Austen at the time, but the West has since lost (so modern-day adaptations aren’t as believable.) I don’t love the Darcy as much, but their characterization of Wickham is perfect. You also get to witness India’s biggest actress, Aishwarya Rai, in action as Lalita (Lizzie.)
1940 Lawerence Oliver P&P Movie - As a P&P adaptation, it’s bad y’all. It’s too silly. The costumes and hair are entirely the wrong period. They made one too many changes to the script (Lady Catherine approves of Elizabeth and helps Darcy to marry her? Have the screenwriters READ the same book I did?) But hey, I still will watch it occasionally because even though the costumes are 100% wrong, I still like them. And Oliver is dreamy.
1980 David Rintoul BBC Mini-series - I can’t with this adaptation. It’s just TOO restrained. When I was watching Darcy profess his love to Elizabeth, I just kept thinking “I order pizza with more passion than this guy right now.”
Pride and Prejudice: a Latter-Day Comedy (AKA the crappy Mormon version) - I know you’ve asked yourself, “What would it be like if modern-day Elizabeth went to college at Brigham Young University?!” No. You didn’t ask for this. Nobody asked for this. This is the version nobody wanted. You can tell on the actor’s faces, not even THEY wanted this. I couldn’t even get all the way through this version, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
You may be thinking, Alicia, Jesus Christ, Is there any version of this story you haven’t seen? Why, yes. Yes there is. There is a 1967 BBC miniseries of P&P that I have NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND A COPY OF. Please if you work for the BBC Archives, email me. (There is also the 1958 BBC version, but that has been lost. RIP.)
*Disclaimer: This list did not include off-shoots like Bridget Jones’s Diary, Death Comes to Pemberley, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the like. If that would be cool, I could do a ranking of them. Because you know I have seen them all.