|Pride and Prejudice
introduction to the album
by Bernard J. Taylor
JANE AUSTEN'S story of the Bennet family, centred on
the relationship between the proud aristocrat Fitzwilliam Darcy and the
high-spirited Elizabeth Bennet, is one of the most enduringly popular novels
of all time and has had a far-reaching influence on all romantic fiction
right up to the present day.
As the story opens, the Bennet family of Meryton receives
news that a rich and single young man, a certain Mr Bingley, has bought
the grand estate of Netherfield. Mrs Bennet, who is anxious to see her
five daughters well married, urges her husband (with added encouragement
from some of the daughters) to make the acquaintance of the new tenant
of Netherfield as soon as possible (SEE HIM TODAY!).
Jane, the eldest and prettiest of the daughters, is
encouraged to make more of an effort to win a husband for herself, but
Jane is convinced that stratagems have no place in true romance (NO DESIGNS
Mrs Bennet is becoming increasingly anxious about getting
her daughters married (FIVE DAUGHTERS) because, having no male heir, the
family will lose the estate on the death of Mr Bennet to his young cousin,
Mr Collins. Shortly after the news of the arrival of the new tenant of
Netherfield, the daughters prepare excitedly for a bell at which they are
to meet Mr Bingley and his friends (AT THE BALL TONIGHT).
At the ball, the exhilaration of the dance (ASSEMBLY
WALTZ) sets the scene for a romantic encounter and Bingley is quickly smitten
by Jane, who delights in his attentions (BEING HERE WITH YOU). Mr Bingley's
friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, makes a less favourable impression on all concerned
with his aloof manner and disparaging remarks about others at the ball
- particularly about Elizabeth, who overhears some of his disdainful comments
At a subsequent social evening, where the girls take
turns in playing piano (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE THEME - REGENCY PIANO VERSION),
Elizabeth gets her revenge by spurning Darcy's attentions and indirectly
condemning him in song as she performs for the guests (A MAN WHO'S PROUD
Darcy suddenly finds himself smitten by Elizabeth (ISN'T
IT STRANGE), but keeps his innermost feelings to himself. Elizabeth's antipathy
towards Darcy is increased when she meets a dashing young officer, Wickham,
who tells her how he has been defrauded and ill-treated by Darcy.
Mr Collins, the heir to the Bennet estate, arrives
at the Bennet home looking for a wife (A WOMAN WHO KNOWS HER PLACE).
Meanwhile, Bingley is becoming increasingly ardent
about Jane (THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD), but is persuaded by his sister
and by Darcy that his feelings for Jane are not requited.
Mr Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth (AN OFFER
I MUST REFUSE), but is rejected - and proceeds immediately to propose to
Elizabeth's friend Charlotte instead. Mrs Bennet is furiously distraught
over Elizabeth's rejection of Mr Collins - and even more so when she hears
that Bingley has apparently abandoned Jane and gone to London.
Elizabeth later visits her friend Charlotte and her
new husband Mr Collins at their vicarage home, and is introduced to Lady
Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy's aunt - a formidable woman who enjoys lecturing
everyone on each and every topic that arises, particularly on matters of
social propriety (GOOD BREEDING).
Elizabeth meets up with Darcy again at Lady de Bourgh's
home and soon afterwards Darcy surprises her with declarations of love
and a proposal of marriage (DON'T ASK ME WHY).
However, Elizabeth is not impressed by this proposal
(SHOULD I BE FLATTERED?) and castigates him for helping to engineer the
split between Bingley and her sister Jane, and for his apparent ill-treatment
But Darcy's account of his actions and his treatment
of Wickham - which differs widely from Wickham's account - makes Elizabeth
think again (HAVE I BEEN WRONG?) and her feelings towards Darcy begin to
The truth of Darcy's account of Wickham's fecklessness
is soon proved when Wickham elopes with Elizabeth's sister Lydia - with
no intention of marrying her, and thus threatening the Bennet family with
ruin and disgrace. But Darcy, unknown to Elizabeth, uses his money and
influence to ensure that Wickham does marry Lydia, much to the relief of
the Bennet family (THANK GOD THEY'RE MARRIED!).
Darcy also helps to reunite Bingley and Jane Bennet
(SINCE WE SAID GOODBYE) and soon there are plans for another wedding.
Lady de Bourgh learns that Darcy is planning to propose
to Elizabeth and she demands that Elizabeth promise she will not marry
Darcy (MY DEAR MISS BENNET..) but Elizabeth refuses to g~e her this promise.
When Darcy hears of this, he is emboldened to propose once more to Elizabeth
(I NEED TO KNOW) and this time he is accepted.
They vow to put aside all past pride and prejudice
and start afresh (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE). The story closes with three of
the five daughters now accounted for and everyone, apart from Lady de Bourgh,
feeling much more positive about the future (FINALE).
Since the album was recorded, a number of new songs
- mainly chorus numbers, as well as songs for Mr Bennet, Wickham and Caroline
Bingham - have been added to the score of the show.