I am so excited about SparkNotes. I bought a couple SparkNotes books for myself at Barnes & Noble. This makes me sound both really old and stupidly young. Old, because SparkNotes started online and everyone uses the online version to not read books for high school English, so why the heck buy a print book? Young, because Cliff Notes was the SparkNotes of my parents’ generation. Cliff Notes were (are?) printed, shorter versions of books. SparkNotes is smart because they brand themselves as study guides. Honestly, they’re really good study guides. They have some great analysis of plot, themes, motifs, symbols, characters, major quotations, etc. Love it.
During high school, I only spark noted one book: “As I Lay Dying.” Trust me, as I was trying to read this book, I was dying. The whole beginning is this family with no emotions moving from one pioneer village to the other and burying their dead mother, which no one seems to have any reaction to. Terrible. I hate when I hear that teachers make quizzes where the answers CANNOT be found in spark notes. You know why? Because when I read the chapter, NOT spark notes, I got screwed. They do a REALLY good job of summarizing -it’s VERY detailed. So anything that’s not on spark notes is probably not something I remember after reading the chapter. I’m very bad at “who said this quote” or “on page 15, what color were the walls of the cottage?” I hate that.
I’m on a SparkNotes kick right now. As per the title of this post, I read the whole Spark Notes Pride and Prejudice.
I believe it’s extremely important to know about classic literature. I feel it’s important to know what they’re about, how they’re important, and how they can be applied to society during the time it was written and today. However, I am NOT ABOUT reading any 400+ page books just to understand the basics. Spark notes is perfect. I want to know the basics. Enough to hold a brief, intellectual discussion about the book, or at the very least, when someone says “You know how [event] happens in [classic novel]?” I want to say, “Yes.” Not “I think so” or “no, but I’m sure I’ll understand the rest of the conversation anyway.” I hate that. I feel ignorant and dumb. Yeah, I’m a little pretentious, so I want to have intellectual discussion on classics, but no, I’m not so pretentious that I look down on SparkNotes.
Now, Pride and Prejudice. Aimee is watching a TV show highly influenced by Pride and Prejudice and I couldn’t hold a conversation with her because I don’t know the story.
Pride and Prejudice is actually a fun and kinda riveting romance. The main theme is classism, specifically how the upper class treats the middle class (like dirt). Jane Austen was middle class and she had issues with the way the upper class treated her. Spark notes says that Austen’s been criticized for completely ignoring the lower class, which is strange because Austen’s father devoted much of his life to the lower class as a clergyman. The story itself is the romance. Charles and Jane are sweet and predictable, while Elizabeth and Darcy are the couple in question. He was Pride over his upper class and disgust with Elizabeth’s middle class, and she was Prejudiced by his first impressions where he seemed like a jerk. Over time (SPOILER ALERT), he wins her over and they live happily ever after. It was a really fun story that I actually really enjoyed reading for the story. To keep from ruining the end, I read spark notes books in the wrong order, but I eventually read everything but the multiple choice study questions and the same copy of the literary guide included in the end of the book.
It was really good! Now I can talk about Jane Austen’s classist views and the characters’ challenging love story. Only took 60 pages. Not bad!