of the Rom-Com
I first read Pride and Prejudice in middle school. I was the type of person that read classics like Animal Farm or Catcher in the Rye all before high school simply to judge them for myself. Admittedly, I didn’t understand the plot the first time, but one thing was for sure: I identified with a lot of it. It remains to this day, one of my favorite books. I was entranced. I watched the movie, I listened to the soundtrack, and I dreamed about meeting my own Mr. Darcy. Something about it made me re-read it again and again, continuing to be enamored with it.
For readers out there who don’t know, Pride and Prejudice is the favorite novel, or at least a well-known novel, of many a romantic. It follows the life of the Bennet family living in Regency England, specifically the second eldest of five sisters, Elizabeth Bennet, and the trials and tribulations she faces in finding unexpected love.
Perhaps this sounds boring to you, reader. Perhaps you’re expecting all the mundane details that come with the English countryside or the insignificance of a middle-class family. Besides, who wants to read about the life of a young woman from the 17th century who gets married? While a valid point, many Janeites, followers of the work of Jane Austen, might vehemently disagree as well as the countless writers who have recreated the plot in movies (though not including the 17 movie adaptations).
The structure goes like this: a young woman is introduced, our single independent but missing-love-in-her-life protagonist. Then along comes a handsome young man, a misunderstanding, and perhaps a passionate display of affection in the rain. Sound familiar? It should. These are the basic necessities for building a rom-com.
Rom-coms are loved or hated. The cheesy dialogue, the cringe-acting, and the undeniably predictable plot. Of course, the two main characters fall in love and get together in the end. Of course, there is a happily ever after. Sure, they might not be realistic or particularly philosophical, but one thing’s for sure: they are popular. Why do they keep getting made? you might cry after watching yet another trailer with a sappy soundtrack in the background. Blame it on Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austen’s novel can be cited as one of the origins of the rom-com you see today, reader. She basks in the everyday events of life, the small things like a glance across the room, a touch of a hand.
And what’s so wrong with that? In life, we’re surrounded by ordinary things. Especially in my college experience when life seems to drag on, assignments abound, stress runs rampant, and every day might seem tedious, the rom-com demands that these little details be romanticized. The walk to classes becomes an adventure (a possible meet-cute), or the look you exchange with your classmate is filled with tension and anticipation. Suddenly, you become that main character you used to roll your eyes at on the screen, reader. Because the starry-eyed romantic sees love in everything, they notice the small, insignificant details of life and make them exceptional.
So go on then–make Jane Austen proud.