By Alex Doria
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of her wits and a sword must be in want of a zombie to slay. However little known the feelings or views of such a woman may be on her first entering the ballroom, this truth is so little known in the minds of the surrounding gentlemen, that she is considered as the rightful property of their gaze … Until she kicks their ass.
Elizabeth Bennet has been a feminist champion for a little over two centuries now. Before she was slaying zombies at the Meryton Assembly and taking names in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Lizzie Bennet was already a heroine ahead of her time.
When Lady Catherine Debourgh turns up her nose at the idea of Lizzie being a proper wife for her very rich nephew, Mr. Darcy, Lizzie tells like it is: “He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.” Pause: this book was published in 1813, ladies and gents.
For Jane Austen to publish a novel at all, (she published anonymously under “A Lady” to avoid notoriety for being a female writer) let alone a novel written about modern women of the day, took serious guts.
And speaking of guts, Lizzie now has a sword to match her sharp words in her latest incarnation in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The film, adapted from Seth Grahame-Green’s parody novel of the same name published in 2009, stars Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet and Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy.
With the zombie apocalypse upon them, the ladies of Longbourne are trained and ready for a fight. There is not a more glorious sight than seeing Lizzie and her band of sisters take down a room of zombies in full ball-gown attire in a slow motion sequence that is worthy of any action film.
It’s fantastic to see how the physical empowerment of being able to fight for themselves highlights the strength and integrity of the characters as the they were originally written in Jane Austen’s novel. Elizabeth Bennet is just as vibrant, witty, and intelligent as she was over two centuries ago, and her character is not compromised by brandishing a sword.
The women of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies do not have to sacrifice their true characters or their femininity to engage in hand-to-hand combat. They push their skirts aside to deliver high kicks and hide knives in their corsets, all while flirting and dancing at the ball.
And perhaps the most wonderful gift of the zombie apocalypse is that Elizabeth has the luxury of responding to Mr. Darcy’s cocky marriage proposal the way every Jane Austen fan has always wanted her to: with a kick to the stomach and all out fight. Spoiler alert: Lizzie kicks Darcy’s ass. And he loves it.
What is ultimately the most important take away from both the original novel and the latest zombie infested interpretation, is that the story is about a man and a woman who both make mistakes, blunders, judgments, and errors as they navigate the world that they live in. Darcy realizes that he loves a woman because she is his match, his equal, and a woman that he respects.
Elizabeth, while on her own journey of self-discovery, finds the love in her life that every woman deserves: a love that does not require her to sacrifice who she is, but is in fact loved for that very reason.
(Image via theatlantic.com/Lionsgate Films)