Like any true devotee of Jane Austen, I snarled when I saw “Pride + Prejudice + Zombies” prominently displayed at a local bookstore. As a lifetime member of “The Jane Austen Society of North America”, I love all things authentically Austen. And I do not count “zombies” among those.
I have watched every obtainable version of Austen films, read every book, and more than my fair share of loathsome spin-offs. But ZOMBIES?! I feel sure dear Jane would highly disapprove.
And now – a movie coming out around Valentine’s Day. Finally, an Austen film men will cheerfully accompany their ladies to. Crafty, Lionsgate. Crafty.
I explained it to my husband like this – “Imagine “Star Wars” had a spin off. All of the same characters – similar story line, but it takes place in Regency England and there are lots of balls, teas, and marriage proposals.” My husband visibly shuddered.
But the last time I watched a respectable “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation – I discovered something dreadful (hold on to your teacups, people) –
There were zombies in the original.
Mainly one zombie: Caroline Bingley.
Briefly for my non-Austen aficionados – Miss Bingley is the younger sister of amiable and wealthy Mr. Bingley. She is determined to marry her brother’s aloof, prosperous best friend – Mr. Darcy. Newly moved to Hertfordshire, all encounter the beautiful, witty Elizabeth Bennet at a country dance. Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy scorn the small town until Mr. Darcy begins noticing Elizabeth’s vivacity, humor, and “fine eyes.” Suddenly, Caroline makes a career out of degrading Elizabeth to her desired boyfriend, Mr. Darcy.
She is petty, critical, haughty, and conniving.
She is a zombie.
Zombies are defined as “a person or reanimated corpse that has been turned into a creature capable of movement but not of rational thought, which feeds on human flesh.”
Caroline Bingley was capable of movement (“let us take a turn about the room…”) but not of rational thought. Her crush, Mr. Darcy told her of his admiration of Elizabeth, and instead of wisely befriending Elizabeth to become more like her to also win affection – she feeds on her flesh.
Caroline says, of Elizabeth:
Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character—there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I could never see anything extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable.
This is the high school halls of 1813, people. Difficult to transcribe all of that on a bathroom wall – but still. High school.
After she delivers this crushing blow, she reminds Mr. Darcy about how when they all first met Elizabeth, they couldn’t believe she was a reputed beauty.
Continuing to gnaw on Elizabeth’s flesh, Caroline grunts, “But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time.”
‘Yes,’ replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, ‘but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.’”
And finally – Caroline ceases her masticating.
But here comes one of my favorite lines in the whole book –
“He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced him to say what gave no one any pain but herself.”
By Caroline doggedly devouring Elizabeth – she demonstrated to Darcy a hideous contrast between herself and Elizabeth. Every time he was in Caroline’s company, he was treated to a disgusting demonstration of the undead. Whereas, Elizabeth was alive – confident, kind, witty, loyal and loving – and capable of rational thought.
So, in short, it is Caroline herself who pushes Darcy to pursue and propose to Elizabeth. She brings about a union that gave no one any pain but herself. (and Aunt Catherine… but that’s another blog)
Seriously, Elizabeth Bennet’s first post-wedding “Thank You” card should be addressed to Miss Caroline Bingley.
Here’s my point:
Have you been cursing a person or a situation that has been trying to devour you?
Is it possible that zombie is causing others to see you in a better light?
If we respond to flesh-eaters like other flesh-eaters, then we abandon the opportunity to showcase our differences. We lose credibility. We lose distinction as followers of Christ.
Jesus says it this way, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
We get all up in our feelings when zombies come after us. But God is using the very things that are trying to devour you – to promote you.
There are always going to be zombies. Your job is not to become them, but to overcome them.
But what will be our weapon of choice?
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21
My all-time favorite quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
I think one of the reasons King succeeded where others failed was that he promoted change through peaceful means. When others responded with violence, he promoted peace. When others screamed hatefully, he loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him.
I believe it was that difference that finally brought about the transformation America so desperately needed.
Don’t hate the circumstances or people trying to destroy you. God is using them to display you.