The Pride & Prejudice Show: A Parody & Commentary

Parody

* applause*

Introduction by host: Good morning everyone. Welcome to our show. I’m Jane Austen and you’re watching The Pride and Prejudice Show, the show where we bring guests together, albeit reluctantly, and attempt to resolve any issues involving…?

Audience: Pride and Prejudice!

Jane Austen: That’s right folks, and today we have a special show for you. It will be full of confessions and even a few surprises. We will be focusing on the relationships between families, friends, and lovers. Someone close to this family (who will remain anonymous) has asked that they come on the show to resolve their issues. With us today is the Bennet family. (to the Bennets) Thanks for being here. I know that not everyone is in high spirits, but our goal is to talk things out, release our emotions, and most of all, rid our relationships of…everyone together now…

Audience: (shouting) Pride and Prejudice!

Lydia Bennet: (snorts)

Lizzy Bennet: (loud whisper) Lydia!

Jane Austen: (laughing) Yes, that’s right. To better understand their situations, let’s get to know each guest and their troubles. We are going to start with Mr. Bennet. Hello and welcome! Thanks for bringing your family to the show. Tell us what the problem is.

Mr. Bennet: Right, well, let’s get this over with. This is…this is….that is to say, this is…

Mrs. Bennet: (in a high-pitched, shrilly voice) His wife!

Mr. Bennet: (chuckles) Yes, uh, that’s right, (mutters) unfortunately. And next to her are my daughters Jane, then Lizzy, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. You see, if my wife and three youngest daughters weren’t so silly and ignorant, we wouldn’t have a problem. Lizzy, on the other hand, has more wit than all of them put together. I’m sorry she even has to be here. It’s an insult to her intelligence.

Mrs. Bennet: Oh, Mr. Bennet, you don’t even care about my poor nerves! Why do you have to go and make fun of us in front of the whole country?

Jane Bennet: (looks distressed)

Lizzy: (seems highly amused by the whole situation)

Mary: (has her nose in a book, actually, the Bible)

Kitty: (starts coughing)

Lydia: (pops a bubble with her chewing gum)

Jane Austen: Oh, dear. Well, let’s move to…

Mrs. Bennet: (interrupting) I’ll tell you how it is. Mr. Bennet does not know what he’s talking about. You see, these five girls should all be married by now. Since

Mr. Bennet (glares at him) will have nothing to do with them, except for that brat Lizzy over there, it is up to me to find them rich husbands. Jane would be married right now to a very handsome man, Charles Bingley, but he suddenly moved out of the neighborhood for no reason at all. He broke her heart! I don’t care who Lizzy marries, but she deserves nobody better than herself. Mr. Darcy would do for her, in my opinion. . .a hateful man. All Mary does all day long is read that silly Bible. She’s never going to get a husband like that! And her ugliness doesn’t help, either. Kitty is so clueless. I would be happy to give her away to any man that notices her. And my dear Lydia, can marry anybody she chooses. And he will be very handsome, I’m sure. Right, Lydia?

Lydia: Yes, that’s right, mama.

Jane Austen: You mentioned Mr. Darcy. Do you mean, THE Mr. Darcy who is the richest, most handsome eligible bachelor in the world?

Mrs. Bennet: Yes, (audience gasps) he is Charles’s best friend.

Jane Austen: Well, that’s interesting. We’ll get back to him later. Let’s start with Jane. Jane, do you love Charles?

Jane: Yes, I love him very much.

Jane Austen: And do you know if he loves you as well?

Jane: Well, I thought he did, but he left moved away without saying goodbye, and…

Jane Austen: Did you tell him that you loved him?

Jane: Well, no…..not exactly. I never had the chance.

Jane Austen: Why’s that?

Lizzy: You see, his sister, Caroline, well she’s a !@$%# and doesn’t want Jane to marry him. Mr. Darcy probably had a hand in it, too. They think we’re too poor. Jane, here, is just too nice to admit it.

Jane Austen: I see. Well, Jane, how can we fix this? Maybe he left because he was never told of your feelings. Would it help to talk to him? (Jane nods) Well, we have a surprise for you. Everyone, meet Charles Bingley.

*gasps and applause*

Jane Austen: Charles, welcome. Jane, here, has something to tell you.

Charles: (shyly) Hi, Jane.

Jane: (blushing) I love you, Charles.

Charles: I love you too, Jane.

Audience: (collectively) Aww!

Jane Austen: Well, it looks like you two have a lot of catching up to do. There is a private limo outside waiting to take you on a vacation to Europe, compliments of the Pride and Prejudice show. Congratulations and I hope everything works out.

*applause*

*Jane and Charles exit*

Jane Austen: Ok, let’s go to Lizzy. Lizzy?

Lizzy: I’m so happy for my sister. She deserves happiness.

Jane Austen: And you don’t?

Mrs. Bennet: Of course she doesn’t. She’s an ungrateful child. She flat out refused to marry Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet’s cousin. I would have two daughters married off by now if it weren’t for her…

Jane Austen: (interrupts) You want her to marry Mr. Bennet’s cousin?

Audience: Booooo! Boooo!

Mrs. Bennet: (to audience) Ah, shut-up. You don’t know what I suffer.

Lizzy: I would never marry Mr. Collins, even if he wasn’t a relation. I don’t love him. And he’s a toad. If I ever marry, I marry for love.

Jane Austen: Well, that’s understandable. It’s not your fault. We have all encountered toads, haven’t we ladies?

Audience: (all the women nod their heads and laugh)

Jane Austen: Well, Lizzy, do you have anyone else in mind? It sounds like there might be a link between you and Mr. Darcy.

Lizzy: Nope. I do not wish to be connected with that man. He is the rudest and most selfish man on the face of this planet. He was very disrespectful to me the first time I met him, and he thinks he is superior to me.

Jane Austen: I’m sorry Mr. Darcy, wherever you are, but there is evidence here of your…

Audience: Pride!!!

Jane Austen: Bingo. Everyone, I’m sorry to say it, but Lizzy has also judged Mr. Darcy and is full of . . .?

Audience: Prejudice!!!

Lizzy: But it’s all true! And he has ruined the life of a very nice man, George Wickham.

Jane Austen: Who told you that?

Lizzy: Well, Mr. Wickham…

Jane Austen: It seems like you don’t know the other side of the story. Audience, please welcome Fitzwilliam Darcy!

*Darcy makes a grand entrance*

Audience: (all the women start screaming)

Jane Austen: Well, here he is. Darcy, Lizzy seems to have a very wrong impression of you. She thinks you are proud and disagreeable. Is this true?

Darcy: I hope not.

Lizzy: (blushing from embarrassment) You ruined Mr. Wickham’s life. He told me so.

Darcy: You don’t know the whole story. Wickham is a bad man. He seduced my little sister. He lies. He has a lot of debts. He is trying to get back at me for not allowing him to deceive me. He wanted you to think ill of me, because he knew it would hit where it really hurts: my heart.

*collective gasp*

Darcy: I can’t take it anymore. I have to tell you how passionately I respect and love you. Lizzy, will you marry me?

Lizzy: (in a daze) This is all a huge shock. I thought you were the bad guy. I thought you hated me. I thought that you thought that I was beneath you. I don’t know what to say.

Audience: (chanting) Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Lizzy: (looks at Darcy’s puppy dog smile) Yes!

*applause and tears*

Lydia: I have a confession to make.

*silence*

Lydia: I ran away with Mr. Wickham. We are married.

Mrs. Bennet: What? A daughter already married, and she’s just sixteen years old! How delightful! So handsome, too!

*Wickham enters the set*

Audience: (boos and hisses)

*Darcy angrily gets up from his seat with the intention of punching Wickham in the face*

*security guards intervene*

Wickham: I’ve had enough of this already. I’m outta here. Come on, Lydia.

Lydia: (waves giddily) Buh-bye!

*they exit*

Jane Austen: Well, let’s go to the family to see what their response is.

Mary: I have never seen such shocking behavior. I would never act like that myself.

Mrs. Bennet: Three daughters married! Gosh, only two more to go. Psst! Mary! We can’t keep you looking so nerdy on national television! Someone as ugly as you is bound to notice you. I always say you can never be too optimistic!

*Mary looks up from her Bible as Mrs. Bennet fiddles with her hair and glasses*

Mr. Bennet: (chuckling to himself)

Lizzy: (oblivious to everything except Mr. Darcy)

Darcy: (oblivious to everything except Lizzy)

Kitty: (looks bored)

Concluding statement by host: Well, that’s all the time we have today. I daresay everyone got what they came for. Mr. Bennet got his amusement for the week, Mrs. Bennet got three daughters married off, Jane got Charles, and Lizzy is marrying, for love I might add, the richest man in the world. Mary got ahead in her reading of the Bible, Kitty wins the prize for the only person to not say anything at all on a talk show, and Lydia got herself a handsome husband. What an eventful episode. I’m glad that this family has worked out SOME of its glitches. So, there is some good that came out of all that miscommunication, after all. There is an important lesson to be learned here, folks. That is, don’t be quick to make judgments of other people. A happy world is a world without…?

Everyone: (shouting) Pride and Prejudice!

*applause*


Commentary

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s work, Pride and Prejudice, gives an accurate reflection of the time period in which she lived. Not only is it full of social commentary, but it also displays her wit in the portrayal of her realistic characters. This novel presents a depiction of misconceptions, miscommunication, and a study of manners set in a class-conscious society in nineteenth-century England. The dramatic and complex plot, attention to relationships and good manners, and the realistic nature of the characters can be easily parodied. The plot of the novel, if changed to be set in the twenty-first century, is a suitable scenario for a television talk show because of one of the main themes—relationships. This parody is an attempt to translate Ms. Austen’s carefully constructed, clever language into Modern English in order to make a straightforward likeness of her characters. Every society has its rules of social behavior, but good manners are much less important today than they were in Jane Austen’s time. Even though she approves of the correct forms of social behavior, Austen makes fun of them by portraying some of her characters as excessively rude or silly. In this talk show, the characters of Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, and Wickham are exaggerated even more than they are in the novel in order to emphasize their flawed natures. Mr. Bennet contributes comedy to the talk show in his own way, just as his character does in the novel. He treats his wife and younger daughters as objects of amusement here by constantly laughing at them. Mrs. Bennet is also very rude to some of her daughters. For example, she says that Mary’s “ugliness doesn’t help” in procuring a rich and handsome husband. The fact that this talk show is being aired across the entire nation increases not only the force of her candor, but also that of the actions of the other guests. Almost every line that I gave to Mrs. Bennet is evidence for her high-strung nature, superficiality, and lack of common sense. The indulgence she has for Lydia’s immature and wild nature is something I wanted to point out. At the end of the show, Mrs. Bennet takes pride in Lydia’s being the first to be married; she gives no thought at all to the character of Mr. Wickham or of Lydia’s future happiness in the match. This indulgence almost brings the Bennet family to ruin. Jane Austen is also known for her perceptive depiction of relationships. In her time, it was no secret that mothers wanted to marry off their daughters to rich husbands. Mrs. Bennet makes her aims clear in this respect, both here and in the novel. Indeed, it is one of the first things she says in the novel. In Chapter One, she describes Mr. Bingley as “A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls” (Austen 6). Mr. Darcy immediately recognizes Mrs. Bennet’s calculating behavior, and this prompts him to be impolite to Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly. Elizabeth mistakes his annoyance for pride. She forms her judgments by the first impression of him, Darcy’s involvement in the separation of her sister and Bingley, and Wickham’s account of Darcy’s dealings with him. She holds these grudges against him without even thinking of asking for his side of the story. As soon as she is corrected, Elizabeth absolves her prejudice against Darcy and falls in love with him. In the novel, this process of awareness and forgiveness takes place within about a year. In the talk show, the same progression happens within a matter of seconds. In this case, the novel is more realistic, but it shows how it was all a matter of miscommunication and misconception. The relationship between Jane and Charles is on a different level. The only thing holding back their marriage is Jane’s lack of forwardness and Charles’s easygoing nature, which allows him to be influenced by the disapproval of Caroline and Darcy’s reasoning. This is corrected as soon as Darcy realizes his error of abusing his friendship, which is pointed out to him by Elizabeth. These relationships are realistic because they are complicated by the dispositions of each individual. For example, in the talk show, Jane realizes that she didn’t voice her sentiments soon enough. Lizzy realizes that she was too quick to judge Mr. Darcy. It is through contemplation and self-awareness that these four characters are able to fully appreciate their second chances in their relationships. Jane Austen’s style of writing is graceful, witty, and efficient all at the same time. She does not use flowery or wordy language, as was the custom in her age. Just as she used straightforward language, I attempted to use colloquial, instead of formal, speech in the talk show. Her writing style is very clever and concise, yet she combines it well with the complex and dramatic structure of the novel. Austen uses dialogue, which interrupts her narrative quite often. In her narrative, she enters into the minds of her characters in order for the reader to recognize their true dispositions. Similarly, I convey what is going on in the minds of the guests on the talk show by putting in parentheses what they are feeling or how they act. The main plot of the novel is the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, which is complicated by the three subplots of Jane and Charles, Wickham and Darcy, and Lydia and Wickham. Jane Austen skillfully connects these plots and keeps the reader in suspense throughout the novel. It is true that all of the dramatic events that arise in the novel come to a happy conclusion. Most of the characters undergo some suffering, growth, and eventual joy. Others, including Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, and Wickham, do not mature at all. This is the reality of human nature. The drama of the plot and the personalities of the characters make Pride and Prejudice an ideal scenario for a television talk show. We see situations like those in the novel often in modern times. The talk show created here is obviously not realistic. It is not entirely faithful to the story. There is no mention of Charlotte Lucas, Lady Catherine, or even the Gardiners, who “had been the means of uniting” (Austen 367) Elizabeth and Darcy. This was not done on purpose; there were just too many characters to mention. The aim of this talk show is to help us see how skilled Jane Austen really is in making this outrageous, soap opera plot into a very respectable and enjoyable novel. Even though it condenses the story dramatically and gives a straightforward rendering of the characters, this talk show script should never take away from the merit that the novel itself deserves!

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Penguin Books: London, 1996.

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