The focus this month in the Classics Challenge is on Setting.
I’ve just finished re-reading (for the umpteenth time) Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Each time I read it I still enjoy it immensely. I think knowing what happens next adds to the pleasure. I read it this time looking out for information about the settings – something I haven’t done before, although Pemberley always stands out!
There are many locations, but for this post I’ve chosen Longbourn.
Pride and Prejudice is a novel based on character, plot and is a study of society in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, but above all it is a love story. The settings provide an essential backdrop but in most cases leave a lot to the reader’s imagination; dialogue takes precedence over description – place is really unimportant.
The book begins with no indication of its setting, or time of day, with a conversation between two characters – Mr and Mrs Bennet. And it is only in the third chapter that the location is revealed and then all we learn is that that the family lives in the village of Longbourn, where they are the principal inhabitants. More information about Longbourn is scattered throughout the book. It’s one mile from the village of Meryton, in Hertfordshire, where the militia are quartered for a while, and twenty four miles from London.
Longbourn House is the family home of the Bennets. There is little description of the house. It must be quite large, it has land – an estate, including a farm. The family have the use of a carriage and horses, when they are not needed for farm work. There are servants – a butler, housekeeper, cook and maids, a drawing room, dining-parlour, and dressing rooms as well as bedrooms. There are gardens, with gravel walks, a shrubbery, a hermitage, and what Lady Catherine de Burgh called ‘a prettyish kind of little wilderness on one side of your lawn.’
Reading the book I haven’t formed a definite picture in my mind what Longbourn House looks like, although I like this one from the 1995 TV series.