A lot of people are fans of Shakespeare. Understandable, he was a genius. However, how does R&J stack-up against P&P as a romance? Romeo and Juliet IS, after all, frequently heralded as The Greatest Love Story. So. do we prefer Juliet or Elizabeth. And is Romeo as swoon-worthy as Juliet? I’ve seen many-a mashup and some great fanfiction including both the stories, so it’s obvious that a lot of the fans cross-over into Austen and vice-versa. Here is a comparison of the notable features, and some of the not-so notable ones. Feel free to post with your own For/Against points at the end.
Juliet is thirteen. THIRTEEN! I don’t know about the rest of you but when I was thirteen I was still playing pokemon cards and bursting into tears over the thought that I will some day bleed out of my genitals (actually, still crying over that one). Sure, the times were different and everything but imagine staging the play (or even just imagine the storyline) with a thirteen year old. Romeo on the other hand, well, his age is much more difficult to grasp. While some people have optimistically said he may have been fourteen, logical guesstimates (from over at Shakespeare Geek) place him at a much more pervy 16-18, and some have even put him at his mid-late twenties. Of course, that much is up for debate and even if he were a bit younger they would both seem incredibly immature.
Darcy however is 28, a far more mature age for falling in love. But what is the age difference with Elizabeth? By mid-book she is 20 turning 21. So, wait, the age difference is far bigger between this pair… but I can’t help accepting the story more than that about a pre-adolescent. In this vein I will be giving it:
1 Pride and Prejudice | 0 Romeo and Juliet
I love those mushy sentences that you can read over and over again, rolling off your tongue and springing to mind to cheer you up. Pride and Prejudice has some truly fantastic descriptive, albeit flowery, dialogue that I adore.
“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” And, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” You cannot deny that these lines are completely romantic.
But what about Pride and Prejudice? I believe it is a more subtle sort of flirtatious romance. Each line, although not dripping with mushy love hearts, is intensely charged.
“By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” “I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
I think that both are a very different type of love, and therefore the language of their love differs. Personally, Pride and Prejudice wins out in this regard for me, because it feels far more REAL. It isn’t just some sort of infatuation/obsession that is taken too far. This is raw emotion, that isn’t cliched. There was no “moment” where Lizzy knew she loved Darcy all of a sudden, like there is in R&J.
Pride and Prejudice is also fairly simple to read. Whereas some people can go their entire lives without ever getting to the bottom of certain lines in Romeo and Juliet. Yes, we can analyse and disagree over P&P- but it’s straightforward enough that people without tertiary education can understand and love it.
2 Pride and Prejudice | 0.5 Romeo and Juliet
One name sticks out. COLIN FIRTH. But then I remember back to many-a night of girly chick flicks involving, at one stage, Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet. With Leonardo Di Caprio. I don’t know what it is about Leo, but his girlish charm at that age is just so strangely attractive (he will also, always, be “Jack” in my mind).
Unfortunately for R&J, the casting wasn’t always as fantastic in the other remakes. While us P&P fans get Lawrence Olivier and Matthew Macfadyen to add to the pile of men we can drool over, Romeo and Juliet-ers are stuck with Leonard Whiting (ugh) and awkward Highschool Musical allusions.
3 Pride and Prejudice | 1 Romeo and Juliet
There are awkward other loves in both. Unfortunately for Romeo, he does himself no favours by mentioning his love for another at the very beginning of the play. A love which is a deep as that for Juliet, and which he quickly overturns when he sees Another Girl to love. Ridiculous. If anything, Shakespeare, in my opinion, wrote this play as a warning to fickle love- that can be passed on from one to another. This is a teenage crush, and at its most awkward. On the other hand, Elizabeth irritates with Wickham (the very mention of which makes me see red). Who then, creepily, goes on to MARRY HER SISTER. That’s just yuck.
3 Pride and Prejudice | 1.5 Romeo and Juliet
Sorry, but this is the make/break for me. Romeo and Juliet is a TRAGEDY. A tragedy people! For this reason, it will NEVER be my favourite romance, nor even make the list. Because, um, it isn’t a romance! While it has elements of the romantic, it doesn’t fall into the romance category. Pride and Prejudice on the other hand ends well. More than well, in fact. It’s about as realistic a fairytale as it can get, and it puts me on a complete high.
I don’t think I need to add more to this category.
4 Pride and Prejudice | 1.5 Romeo and Juliet
If you can think of other categories you’d like me to, um, dissect… then let me know! I’m quite at my leisure.