Recently, longing to fill the long summer hiatus of The Walking Dead, I picked up the copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and began to read. About two pages in, I realized the parody was not going to make any sense if I didn’t read the original. Cursing the poor planning that had led me away from lighthearted summer reading into classics territory, I went to Barnes and Nobles to pick up Jane Austin’s famous tome.
To say that this book is all I have ever wanted in a romance novel and in literature and in my own real life would be a gross understatement of how much I enjoyed it. It was smart, witty, and devastating. Pride and Prejudice made me lament how far our society has strayed from mainstream romance to over sexualized sensationalism. Mr. Darcy (SPOILERS) goes to extraordinary lengths for Elizabeth because he treasures her mind and wit, not because she’s DTF. The current most celebrated romance novel is that 50 Shades of Grey business, which I haven’t read, but have heard plenty about since the Overly Friendly Fox has been kicked out of every laundry mat in Williamsburg for continually sneaking in and trying to read it while atop various washing machines on their spin cycle. I read about it on Wikipedia and felt that was plenty for me. The worst part about the hyper-sexualized culture that books like 50 Shades propagate is that the woman rarely ends on equal footing with her male counterpart. She submits, becomes the object and relinquishes all her power to please the man in her life. This issue runs the gambit in pop culture from Twilight to Rihanna. It doesn’t reflect the reality of all sexual politics, but it does send the message to young girls and grown women that we should take our place as the secondary sex and be grateful we are pretty instead of smart and powerful.
It’s not desirable to go back to a time when a marriage for love carried on after a long, chaste courtship is the exception to the marry for money and status rules of Jane Austin’s early 19th century England. There’s a happy medium between that extreme and the way we polarize sexual relationships now while condemning women for taking any control over their bodies in reference to said relationships. I don’t know if it exists in the modern tale Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I can’t wait to find out.