On Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth...On the Roof

By Jennifer Coburn

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice was during my freshman year of high school, right around the same time friends and I were auditioning for the school production of Roof. I tried out for the musical because that’s what I was into at the time. We were the musical-chick clique that performed in the school shows, the Madrigal group and the “beauty shop” octet. In our spare time, we taught ourselves the lyrics of every Broadway musical and took acting and dance lessons on the weekends.

I would have auditioned for any show the school was doing, but I felt a particular affinity for this production. Though the story took place in turn-of-the-century Russia, it was about my people–Jews. It was about an issue I could understand–grappling with one’s identity during a time of change. Not only were our teen lives changing, but the world around us was, too. I was the fourteen-year-old daughter of a divorced, new age secretary and hippie musician who came of age in Manhattan in a decade when greed was good and preppies aspired to become yuppies.

I was less than thrilled to read Pride and Prejudice, but did because it was assigned. I wondered how I would relate to the story of nineteenth-century Brits in a “comedy of manners.” Manners weren’t the sort of thing that interested any teen, much less me, whose father said they were “bullshit rules prescribed by an oppressive establishment.” My mother felt that as long as everyone’s  …

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