Writers have been able to translate Pride and Prejudice to multiple settings and time periods. Here are four recent retellings of note:
“Pride,” Ibi Zoboi
In this young-adult update of “Pride and Prejudice,” Zuri Benitez, a proud teenager from a working-class Afro-Latino family in Brooklyn, takes an immediate dislike to Darius, son of the bougie Darcys who fix up the mansion across the street. The book explores gentrification and classicism in a diverse neighborhood and cleverly updates elements of the original novel. Much of Zuri’s innermost thoughts are expressed through poetry.
“Ayesha at Last,” Uzma Jalaluddin
This enjoyable retelling is set in a Muslim community in modern-day Toronto. Ayesha is a poet and teacher who is always helping out her flaky cousin Hafsa. Khalid is a conservative Muslim who dresses in robes and believes his mother will arrange a wise match for him. When Hafsa ditches on a project to help their mosque, Ayesha and Khalid are thrown together, and fireworks fly. This book, which isn’t available in the states yet, is a great adaptation of P&P into another culture.
“First and Then,” Emma Mills
What happens if “Pride and Prejudice” meet “Friday Night Lights”? You get this YA book. Devon is a Jane Austen-loving teenager who butts heads with football hero Ezra during gym class. When her cousin joins the football team and befriends Ezra, Devon’s and Ezra’s paths can’t help but cross. Is Ezra as arrogant as Devon thinks? While not a straight retelling of “Pride and Prejudice,” this book contains a few Austen shout-outs, and the chemistry between Devon and Ezra make for a fun, and often touching, read.
“Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe,” Melissa de la Cruz
This retelling gender=swaps the main characters: Darcy, a high-powered female executive, returns to her family home for the holidays and has a one-night stand with hometown carpenter Luke Bennet, whose siblings are unambitious. This is a good read during the holidays.
Love it or hate it, the Seth Grahame-Smith book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” — which sets Pride and Prejudice in a world where zombies are rampant — put a whole new spin on Jane Austen’s novel. And just as with Austen’s works, PPZ had a film adaptation of its own. We take a look at a few highlights. WARNING: Spoilers if you haven’t seen the film or read the book.
Sisters who fight together …
The Bennet sisters in PPZ are no damsels in distress. They trained to fight zombies in China (which of course isn’t as good as being trained in Japan), and they can often be found sparring against one another. And they wouldn’t be caught dead without any weapons — even at a ball. The training scenes are some of the most fun in the film.
Mr. Collins yuks it up
Matt Smith — whom you may recognize as Prince Philip in “The Crown” or the Eleventh Doctor in “Doctor Who” — steals every scene he’s in as the inane Mr. Collins. His take on the clergyman is one of the best parts of the movie. If you want to skip the movie, check out the outtakes from his scenes here.
Lady Catherine — a good guy?
Lena Heady brings a steely-ness to Lady Catherine in the film as an accomplished and well-respected warrior in the fight to rid the world of zombies.
Fight scene or proposal scene — or both?
PPZ turns Darcy’s failed proposal into a literal fight as Lizzy and Darcy trade blows — and barbs.
Where have I heard that line?
The PPZ film keeps Jane Austen fans on their toes: If you listen carefully, you’ll hear lines inspired by Austen’s other novels, including “Northanger Abbey,” “Emma” and “Persuasion.”
Is Wickham the worst in Jane Austen’s rogue gallery? Let’s compare him with the Austen’s other cads….
6. Frank Churchill, “Emma”
The outgoing, charming son of Mr. Weston keeps his engagement to Jane Fairfax a secret all while misleading Emma. But although she was a little hurt by his actions, they don’t cause any real harm in the end.
5. John Thorpe, “Northanger Abbey”
This braggart loves carriages, horses, himself and … well, not much else. He stirs up trouble with General Tilney by planting the rumor that Catherine Morland is an heiress. But Thorpe is all talk and no action — and therefore not disastrous in the long run.
4. Mr. Elliot, “Persuasion”
He schemes to get Anne to marry him and aims to keep Sir Walter Elliot from marrying Mrs. Clay so she won’t produce an heir to take away his fortune (such as it is, anyway). Ultimately his machinations come to nothing, and we never learn what became of him.
3. Henry Crawford, “Mansfield Park”
Now we get to the heavy-hitters. In his first scene in the book, he is described as “ the most horrible flirt that can be imagined.” Although he seems to genuinely care for Fanny, after setting out deliberately to make her fall in love with him, he runs off with the married Maria Rushworth. Fanny made a wise decision not to fall for Henry’s antics.
2. Wickham, “Pride & Prejudice”
Wickham, like most of the other bad dudes in Austen’s canon, can seemingly charm anyone — even Lizzy. But he tried to seduce Darcy’s teenage sister to get at Darcy’s money. And then ends up tarnishing the Bennet family name after running away with Lydia — and marrying her only after Darcy pays him off.
1. Willoughby, “Sense & Sensibility”
He beats out Wickham for a few reasons. First, his liaison with Col. Brandon’s ward results in a baby out of wedlock. Then Willoughby openly flirts with Marianne and quickly gets out of Dodge when his aunt lays down the law. Then he ends up marrying Miss Grey and her 50,000 pounds. Sure, he may actually love Marianne — but not enough to give up his wealth.
How would you rank Austen’s cads? Let us know!