Feminism, Literature

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Feminists

I am a sucker for romance.

According to some feminists, romantic fiction brainwashes women into submission. Gratefully I am a feminist in the year 2014. Also known as a postmodern feminist. I enjoy romantic fiction for exactly what they are. Fiction.

Disappointed by Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847) it was with low expectations that I opened my paperback edition of the classical Pride and Prejudice (P&P) by Jane Austen (1813).

The romantic plot in P&P is simple and classical. I am guessing you are like me, not reading romantic novels for ‘do they get each other in the end?’ part. *SPOILERALERT*

The story in P&P is okay. No surprises. No wow factor.

I always pictured Lizzy to be cheekier but Hollywood has perhaps misled me. I love Mr. Bennet. A patriarch and a feminist! I off course loath Mrs. Bennet and Lydia. Mr. Darcy does not rattle my bones. (Team Wickham, anyone?) To sway me in Darcy’s direction he should have been even more proud, more obnoxious, more hero. He should have simply been more.

We know Austen’s stories was (and still is) social commentaries highlighting the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Lizzy fights for her right to marry out of love and not out of politics. I get the biting social commentaries. Thank the Goddess, her true love is filthy rich and able to not only secure her socially and economically, but improving her standing altogether!

Alas we come to the matter that is important (almost lost focus there for a moment), namely Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) (Seth Grahame-Smith, 2009).

Is PPZ more feministic than the original, which now seems outdated? What has Grahame-Smith actually done with Austen’s story?

PPZ opens with the sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Preaching to the choir, as it were. Zombies always want more. Never satisfied.

The original P&P says: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” How easy it would be for me to turn with my sisters and point out the true meaning of the swap of ‘man’ with ‘zombie’, ‘fortune’ with ‘brains’ and ‘more brains’ with ‘wife’. However, I will not succumb!

Other changes in PPZ explains the difference in social status between Mr. Darcy and Lizzy. It is because of their combat training. His family train in Japan while Lizzy and her sisters train in China. Karate vs Kung Fu, anyone?

Conclusively, the Bennet sisters are the same in both stories. They just have one more problem to deal with. Zombies. Fortunately, they are a highly trained militia, kicking ass. Lizzy does not need a man to protect her. She fights her own battles. Feminists rejoice!

I am not saying PPZ is a feminist masterpiece. With the use of zombies, the story becomes science fiction as well as romance (perhaps even more so). Science fiction is a perfect fictional tool to pose questions about social issues such as gender issues.

Austen was undoubtedly a (modern) feminist writer but the romantic wrapping is not up to date with present feminism. So conclusively, Grahame-Smith has written a postmodern feminist work not because Lizzy does her own fighting but because he throws zombies at her!

Sisters unite! For there is always more zombies to slay!

Christine

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