Life lessons for students from Elizabeth Bennett

 

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is celebrating its 200-year anniversary this year, and is still regarded as one of the country's favourite novels, coming second place in the BBC’s Big Read mission to find the nation’s best-loved book.

To mark this occasion, students at Durham University have dramatized the text, clearly implying that the story of Elizabeth Bennett is just as relevant for the modern day student as it was for the Georgians. Perhaps if we allow Austen’s novel to be didactic, we might learn much from her heroine.

Leo Mylonadis, the director of the new play, believes that we should aspire to be like Elizabeth because of her keenness to learn: "Education more often in our society comes from taking the initiative to learn more or go beyond, instead of being taught the whole of the material, which is mirrored in how Lizzie grew more knowledgeable than her contemporaries due to her thirst for knowledge." Lizzie inspires students to look beyond the boundaries of what must be learnt, and to explore the realms of the unknown.

As well as this, students can take a leaf out of Lizzie’s book when it comes to social occasions; she is always polite, respectably dressed and incredibly diplomatic, despite having to contend with embarrassing friends and family members. In this way, she is able to master the art of social climbing, and is accepted into social circles beyond her status.

Frugal

It is no secret that students are used to a little scrimping and saving, and Elizabeth Bennett proves that the challenge of a frugal lifestyle needn’t hold you back. Despite her shortage of funds in comparison to the likes of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she adapts to her surroundings by choosing charm over chequebook, allowing her wit and vivacity to serve as payment for the hospitality of others.

Miss Bennett should be the student’s first liaison for relationship advice. Emily Beech, who plays Lizzie’s Aunt Gardiner in the student adaptation, states that ‘although the modern student may be thinking of careers rather than cake tiers, Elizabeth’s character remains translatable to our lives’. Not only is she able to escape the creepy clutches of Mr. Collins, but also her measured feelings towards Mr. Wycombe mean that she does not become imprudently attached to the wrong man. Lizzie might tell the lovesick that it is worth persevering if at first your advances are spurned: even Mr. Darcy was rejected initially!

However, Elizabeth is such a rounded and engaging character due to the way in which her virtuous qualities are inextricable from her flaws. Lizzie battles with her prejudice of Mr. Darcy throughout the novel. Her ultimate acceptance of him is a lesson to all that first impressions may not be accurate, particularly when there is huge pressure to meet new people in an alien environment, as is the case when beginning university.

As well as this, the cunning George Wycombe fools Lizzie into believing lies about Mr. Darcy. Although her trust can be seen as an endearing quality, this also acts as a warning against gossip and reminds us that we should wait for evidence before condemning the accused. As an intense social environment, university is the ideal breeding ground for gossip, but Lizzie’s experiences teach us to avoid such profitless pastimes.

Stunned as Elizabeth Bennett might be, were we to drop her into university in 2013, she would have the correct qualities to adapt to the environment, once she had recovered from the shock of discovering women in tertiary education. Austen’s character is so beloved because of her timelessness of heart and it seems only natural that her life lessons are applicable to students today.

If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, do so immediately. Rush out to the bookshop, order it on Amazon, download it to your kindle, or all of the aforementioned. Elizabeth Bennett is a character who stays with you beyond the realms of the literary.

Durham students can see the play from 24 – 26 February 2013 performed in The Great Hall of the Castle, produced by Castle Theatre Company. To book, click here.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence