By: Noelle Kozak
“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that Pride and Prejudice, the brainchild of nineteenth century novelist Jane Austen, has more than stood the test of time. It tells the story of the Bennet family and their five daughters, as they navigate through a world defined by marriage and social status. The main plot of the novel revolves around the relationship between main protagonists Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they overcome their ‘pride’ and ‘prejudices’ to ultimately understand each other and find love and happiness. It is a work that has been adapted many times to fit a modern audience. In this paper I examine how Pride and Prejudice translates into its latest adaptation, web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
In this fresh re-telling, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet is characterized to fit a modern audience, in a story focused less on marriage and more on life goals. Here, she is a grad student who lives with her parents and two sisters as she makes a video about her life with her best friend Charlotte. Along with Lizzie, all the original characters from the novel are re-imagined for this adaptation which initially focuses solely on Lizzie’s point of view. However, in this version, Lizzie’s opinions are only part of the story as minor characters like her sister, Lydia Bennet, come center stage.
Austen’s original depiction of Lydia Bennet had been a character that most fans of the novel explicitly disliked for both her naiveté and choices that nearly ruined the lives of those around her. Within the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this is not the case, as the series gives Lydia her own web series as well as an evolved characterization which not only fits a modern audience, but allows for another form of perspective.
This idea of a web series that develops through new media is a most interesting and original take on Pride and Prejudice. This study argues that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries does a excellent job of keeping the spirit of Jane Austen alive while expanding and building on her novel in creative and compelling ways.