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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continues to be a well-loved classic in any readers’ bookcase. The anxieties of marriage, distinctions in social status, significances of reputation, unreasonable expectations of women and inconveniences of too much pride and prejudice are some of the themes presented in the novel.
Among the various characters introduced, Elizabeth Bennet is predominantly the heroine of the story. It is her thoughts, decisions and feelings that drive the plot. But, the novel is also considered as a romance about Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s complicated relationship. In several editions of the novel, either a sole image of Elizabeth or both of her and Mr. Darcy is illustrated at the foreground.
The book covers of Pride and Prejudice depict the novel either as a story focused on the views and realities of a heroine or on the romantic relationship between the two characters to attract various female readers. The covers that only portray Elizabeth Bennet emphasize on her characteristics and her perspectives about the society. Bantam Classic provides an oil painting of a young lady that is placed at the center and is facing directly. A pale, velvety or vintage-style color palette is used against the dark background making the figure appear better. The lady is also clothed in a white ballgown with adornments that are similar to the styles of the classical eras. Rockport Publishers choose vibrant colors like blue, pink and green with a combination of wavy and circular patterns. It features a cartoon-like drawing of Elizabeth’s head with a focus on her eyes, hair and forehead. Additionally, its back cover shows a part of Elizabeth’s refusal to Mr. Collins.
By merely looking at these covers, one would think that it is a story centered on the outlook or experiences of a woman. The covers suggest that the novel is like a form of a diary, biography or adventures of this particular heroine. The placement and depiction of Elizabeth Bennet asserts her distinction and uniqueness against the other characters and also symbolizes her self-reliance or independence as portrayed in the story.
The Bantam Classic’s vintage style portrait captures the atmosphere of sophistication and elegance of the Regency era. It also represents the women in that time like Elizabeth who were expected to behave as such and to prioritize particular issues like marriage or family life. Rockport Publishers’ whimsical cover embodies Elizabeth’s quick-witted personality while the focus on Elizabeth’s head symbolizes her creative mind and unconventional ideas. Elizabeth’s remark at the back cover further demonstrates her strong-willed beliefs regarding relationships. Its graphics does not just make the story appear modern but they also portray the novel as a light-hearted comedy. Female readers are often the target market of the novel due to its female protagonist. Bantam Classic attracts the female audience who are more interested in academic or traditional style readings and its cover lets them imagine the type of society and expectations for women during Elizabeth’s time.
Rockport Publishers appeal to the younger readers who appreciate illustrations to guide them throughout the story and its modern take of the cover allows readers to consider the satirical or humorous side of the narrative. Their decision to focus on Elizabeth Bennet is to make her as an icon for every female reader. The female readers could really relate and become inspired by Elizabeth’s cleverness and steadfast personality. The covers emphasize that this a story told through the eyes and mind of a woman for the women readers. So, these particular covers help female readers to understand that the novel is about the standpoints of a woman regarding the culture or situation she is living in.
Illustrations of both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy on the covers represent the romantic aspect of the novel. Collins Classics’ has a simple blue cover which portrays a classic silhouette of Darcy and Lizzie. It features Darcy with a dark outline while Lizzie has a white one. Its back cover further discusses the connections of these two characters in the story. Alma Classics also prefer a minimalistic layout of a Regency era Darcy and Elizabeth standing on a bridge. The two characters face in opposite directions from each other. The back cover continuously mentions the characters’ affections for one another. Visually, these covers indicate that this is mainly a story following these two characters’ romantic lives. They emphasize not just Elizabeth’s viewpoint but also of Darcy’s making him a central figure too. They show the contrasting traits of these two characters through their color variance from Collins Classics and their opposing stance from Alma Classics. Darcy and Elizabeth’s clashing personalities signify the novel’s title and become a driving force in their relationship. Both of the back covers reiterate on their relationship which strengthens the romantic component of the novel. The publishers of these editions entice female readers who desire amusement for their romantic hearts. Usually, these readers would greatly fantasize about Mr. Darcy making him even more popular than Elizabeth. These readers also like to refer to the novel as a guide or a standard for falling in love. Therefore, these covers illustrate to female readers that the novel highlights the complexities of love and relationship. Although there is a variety of cover designs for the novel, representations of Elizabeth alone or of her with Mr. Darcy are the most prevalent ones.
Through these covers, a female reader may grasp the social or cultural issues observed by Elizabeth or admire the delightful accounts of love and misjudgment between Darcy and Elizabeth. The different covers are certainly important and influential as they serve as a reflection or a preview of the contents, themes and objectives of the novel.
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