Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

In the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the popular Jane Austen literary work is remade by Seth Grahame-Smith to incorporate the undead. As the novel begins, an entire English village has fallen victim to the rise of zombies. The dead arise from their graves and attack the living. As the dominance of the undead begins to spread and infect, the entire Bennet family prepares to combat and protect their family. The Bennet sisters, under the encouragement of their father, are all well trained in martial arts and sword-fighting, and have become skilled- killers. Still, in spite of their possible infection and fate as one of the ‘undead’ much of their priorities are placed heavily on focusing much of their energy on their own social standings. Similar to the Jane Austen original, Mrs. Bennet is still very much consumed with ensuring her daughters are married off well suited men, badgering her husband to pursue certain acquaintances. The civilized interactions dominant in the original, are replaces with blood thirsty physical alterations, while meaningless social jabbers are replaced with intense zombie concerns. Verbal scoffs geared towards distaste for certain social obligations, or situations are replaced with vomit. While Elizabeth, renamed Lizzie, becomes an elite zombie-killer, and her verbal sparring with the overly confident and slightly condescending, Mr. Darcy is replaced with heavy and very intense physical zombie-slaying.

A psychoanalytic critic emphasizes the author’s repressed wishes and fantasies. By applying the Freudian concepts of id, ego, and superego, into the characters and into the descriptions of the characters, hidden neuroses are revealed. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, though filled with blood-hungry zombies and zombie killers, and seemingly silly in content, reveals a clear distaste for the culture of the upper middle class. Using the growing presence of the zombies as a metaphor for the infectious and illogical nature of social obligations, Grahame-Smith, points to the unrealistic expectations presented by the upper class. The metaphor reveals not only the neuroses of the author but the audience as well. As a culture, our society is so helplessly consumed with meaningless social obligations and pop culture, that more significant issues are put on the back burner.

The zombie themselves serves as a metaphor for a conventional paradigm, that to Grahame-Smith is just as life draining as the undead, marriage. Just as marriage is “an endless curse that sucks the life out of you and just won’t die” (Grahame-Smith pg 319), so are the curse of the zombies. Though the infectious curse of the undead have drudged on for several decades, the characters represent our willingness to stand ground in spite of the life draining and grueling nature of their present situation. Much like the Grahame-Smith’s view on marriage, the zombies become not something to finally destroy and be rid of, but rather something one must ‘deal with’ or ‘learn to live with’. The character of Mr. Collins furthers Grahame-Smith’s views. Mr. Collins is far too self absorbed and stupid to notice that his wife is clearly transforming into a zombie, a common trait of most spouses. Rather than acknowledging his wife’s demise, Mr. Collins enjoys the oblivious nature of being a spouse and continues to ignore the obvious.

1 comment:

  1. A lovely idea, using this book to work with. Don't see any references to the theory in here, however, and that leaves this largely a description of the book, rather than an analysis of what a freudian critic might point out