Why Guys Should Read Pride & Prejudice

I can’t promise that this will be my last post on this subject, but it’ll at least be the last for awhile!

Fellas, here’s a true story. The boys in my 9th grade class complained incessantly about having to read P&P. It’s girly! It’s a love story! Is this a kissing book? But you know what? We kept at it, I kept pointing them to the male characters, some funny, some pathetic, some admirable, and they started seeing it as a book for men — a book that almost reads as a guide to manliness and a caution against its distortions. After we finished it, we started Gulliver’s Travels, a much more traditionally “boyish” book, and the first day of our discussion on it, one boy piped up and said, “Miss Roberts, I wish we could spend another week on Pride and Prejudice,” to which the rest of the boys added their agreement, recollecting their favorite characters and moments in the book.

So without further ado, ten reasons (from my students) that men should read Pride and Prejudice.

1. It’s funny.

2. It gives you a “how to” AND a “how not to” on proposing marriage.

3. Mr. Bingley is awesome.

4. It’s a great story.

5. It’s a psychological cross-section of people.

6. It teaches you how not to be a man (Mr. Collins, Darcy at first, Wickham).

7. It teaches you how to be a man (Darcy as the story develops, Bingley, Mr. Gardiner).

8. You can’t be really well-read without having read it.

9. It’s full of witty insults you can imitate.

10. It gives examples of women you should go after and women you should leave alone.

Straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth! šŸ˜‰

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5 thoughts on “Why Guys Should Read Pride & Prejudice

  1. I think their enjoyment of it is not a function of their maleness or their (potential) manliness, but rather of their having been well-educated and capable of recognizing and enjoying irony, subtlety and precision in verbal expression. I lay all those qualities at the feet of their teachers, one in particular.

  2. I have yet to read this book, although if I was given this book to read when I was 14ish I probably would have had the same initial reaction as the boys in your class. I have a copy of this book and I’ll probably read it eventually, but I’ve already got quite a few books on TBR list. Although I suppose that is just me making another excuse as to why I haven’t read the book.

  3. Pingback: 2011: The Blog In Review | A Wilderness Life

  4. Looks like I’m commenting on a very old post, but I have several questions for you regarding this. šŸ™‚
    I’m a 20 year old female English Education major, and I’ll be graduating this December with the hopes of teaching high school literature.
    I absolutely love Jane Austen and have been discussing the difficulties of making her work appealing to boys (particularly teenage boys) with some of my classmates (other future English teachers).
    How did you make this text so relevant to the young men in your class?
    What did you talk about?
    What did your lessons plans look like?
    Was it an on-level, honors, or AP class?
    How much language/history did you have to de-code for them (male and female students) to understand the text?

    Thanks!

    • Sorry it’s taken so long to reply to this!

      1. Before we read it, we talked a LOT about Austen as a satirical novelist, and about satire in general, and I read aloud several satirical passages for us to discuss and analyze. I did a mini-lecture on how books by men are considered “universal” but books by women, especially those that deal with domestic life, love, or marriage, are instead perceived as “niche” or “chick-lit,” despite the fact that we all live together in the same world — and how that’s incredibly misogynistic and not ok. I wanted to prepare them to take it seriously and analyze it deeply, not just read it as a story about marriage.
      2. We focused a good amount of attention and class time on the men in the book. I think the men of Austen’s novels get short shrift, and are sometimes seen as purely romantic heroes rather than the complex, finely-drawn characters they are. There’s a lot of meat there, and spending an equal amount of time on the male and female characters helped keep my boys and girls engaged.
      3. On day one, they always read an introduction in their textbook about the author, the historical context, the characters and the plot and then take a comprehension quiz. The rest of the lessons are spent just analyzing the work. We made a chart of the characters by social class to show how Austen gives us good and bad examples of people from each level of society she depicts, and talked about how that set her work apart from other novelists who tended to idealize the poor or the rich — again, we focused a lot on the men there.
      4. On-level, but I teach at a small private school, and the curriculum is very demanding.
      5. Not much, but again, these are kids who have already read Aristotle and Sophocles and Augustine and Chaucer and Shakespeare. Also, a good annotated text is a huge help — we require the Penguin Classics edition which has a ton of end notes to explain dances, card games, and the like.

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