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Pride, prejudice and zombies essay

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Pride, prejudice and zombies essay

  1. 1. Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies Analysis Introduction In the year 1813, a novel that would quickly become a classic was published. This novel was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s novel is one directed towards a young adult audience; the love story is an eloquently written novel with a relatively broad vocabulary and an overall large audience. It is true, however, that the average young adult growing up in the 21st century may not have the same appreciation for a novel written in the 19th century; one might find it difficult to relate to such a novel. Perhaps for this reason, a more recent novel has come out: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith, a novel that is meant to be a “mash-up” between the original, romantic classic, and a zombie sub-story line. It is also true that the author of this “quirk classic,” as it is often called, was using a popular name such as Pride and Prejudice in order to attract an audience that was already initially interested in Jane Austen, allowing him to begin his writing career with an already larger, more informed audience. With the intent to draw in a youthful, more interested audience, and perhaps even introduce a younger audience to the original classic, along with gaining fame, popularity, and an “author” status, does the author of this mash-up (and the other few that he has written) successfully create a new genre by creating his adaptations?
  2. 2. Throughout this analysis, I will discuss and answer a variety of questions and facts. I will discuss the comparison of Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen as rhetors, the previous and current audience of the two books, and the situation which Smith decided to write the book that he did. Artifact In terms of why a new genre such as this one has been recently created,Smith, himself, has explained in a few interviews that he has created his mash-up to appeal to a younger audience, and to make classical literature more interesting. Smith has produced a lot of work, including some mash-up books and movies related to Abraham Lincoln. In one interview, he was asked if he believes historians want to “run him out of town.” In response to this question, he speaks in regards to his most recent Lincoln mash-up book. He quotes, “As a matter of fact, one of the first events I'm doing for the book is at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield on March 6. They realize we're bringing new people into the tent. Hopefully, they will be motivated.” It is clear here that Smith’s main intention is to broaden the audience that is interested in history and classic literature. He wants to make the topics more known, even if it means needing to add non-realistic elements to history in order to entertain. Many audience members of his work may not have even heard of the historical events or classic books he references until they have heard of him. Therefore, Smith could potentially be teaching his audience something new. As stated earlier in the introduction, Smith is lucky to have so much attention (positive
  3. 3. and negative) towards his books, because he is writing on a topic that is already very broadly known. Austen has written classics that people have known about for so many years. Smith has seemingly jumped on the opportunity to produce a different version of an already popular story, probably hoping to have a set audience in the beginning regardless of the outcome of his story. Rhetorical Analysis The audience of both novels differs slightly, but relevantly. Jane Austen’s original novel is directed towards a young audience. The original novel, was also written in the 19th century. It is unfortunate that now, in the 21st century, not as many young people take the time to pick up a classic novel, as they are often distracted by social media, social networking, internet, and technology. A young adult in the 21st century may not feel as though they could relate to a character in a book that Austen had written in the 19th century. “Zombies” have been a trend since the late 60’s and early 70’s. In the past 10-15 years, zombies seem to be more popular than ever: movies are frightening people with the possibility of a zombie outbreak, video games that involve a main character fighting off zombies to survive are very common, and books such as How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, by Michael Thomas and Nick S. Thomas have come out. With this huge zombie “outbreak,” it is obvious that Smith chose to turn Austen’s book into something a little bit more recent—something that a young adult growing up in the 21st century would already feel slightly knowledgeable about. By adding a more modern element to a classic novel, a younger audience may be more inclined to pick up a mash-up classic.
  4. 4. It is also important to note, again, that Smith more than likely hoped to attract Jane Austen’s initial audience with his mash-up classic. Smith had the ability to begin his writing career with a larger audience that is familiar with Austen’s work. There have been many terms used to describe Grahame-Smith’s new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. A term that is typically used when the book is researched is the term, “mash-up.” The question as to whether or not Grahame-Smith has created a new genre has a complex answer; one might argue that he has created a new genre. However, the author himself claims that the books he has written a collection of books that can be considered to have their own subgenre, rather than a complete, new genre. Grahame-Smith has not written a sequel, prequel, or anything along those lines, to Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice. Smith has simply taken Austen’s original book and added a slight zombie story-line to the original book. All character’s names and settings remain the same as the original; in fact, Smith even has Jane Austen’s name as one of the writers on the front of his book; this is how similar his novel is meant to be. A “mash-up,” in this case, is simply a slight addition or “tweak” to an original classic meant to broaden the audience of an original classic and perhaps even intrigue a younger (or different) audience. In terms of whether or not Smith creates a new genre, it can be said that yes, he does create a new genre (even though it is more often considered a “subgenre”).
  5. 5. It is true that one probably could not read Smith’s mash-up version of Pride and Prejudice and claim that the original is completely the same with the addition of a zombie sub-story line. The mash-up takes place in almost a different universe completely, but with the same characters. The mash-up attempts to use the same story line as Austen’s original story, but instead uses zombies to create another story within the original, in a way. For example, Mr. Bennett (a character that Jane Austen herself came up with) trains his daughters to fight against zombies in case of an attack in the mash-up version. The daughters then fight off a bunch of zombies at a dinner party. In the original book, the daughters did go to a dinner party, but there were, of course, no zombies. It is clear in this example that the mash-up version uses Austen’s story entirely, but the story line is very generally similar. One could not necessarily say that Smith’s version is the same story as Austen’s, because only the basic storyline is the same. Smith adds many scenes, such as this one, to his mash-up, turning his book into almost an entirely different story, but using Austen’s story as a “ground” to begin. Austen’s original book is set entirely in the 19th century, and while Smith’s book is also to be set in the 19th century, the settings are slightly different. Yes, both books are set primarily in the Bennett’s family home and Mr. Darcy’s estate, but in Smith’s books, the setting is one that can allow zombies to be entered into the setting as well. When it comes to whether or not one must read the original book in order to understand Smith’s mash-up, it is important to keep in mind that Smith’s adaptation of Austen’s original
  6. 6. book is not a sequel by any means. The story is completely independent, and therefore, the original book does not necessarily need to be written. It is true, however, that one whom has read the original book may have a different (and perhaps stronger) appreciation for Smith’s adaptations. The original book is what Smith’s book is based upon. Conclusion There are, of course, two different sides of the story when it comes to whether or not Smith has done the right thing in terms of creating a mash-up version of Austen’s work. In this segment, I will describe Smith’s novels from the two main points of view that an audience member of his novel could come from. It is evident that these “zombie” books will appeal to a younger audience and push a younger adult to read Smith’s book(s) over Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice. If the intent of Smith’s books is just to push a younger audience to read in general, then of course a child reading Smith’s books would be a positive thing. In one review of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mother described her young son’s reaction to being introduced to Smith’s book. Her son seemed very interested. He showed great appreciation for the book, and even asked his mother if she thought he should read the original Austen classic first. This example is a perfect one of something positive that could come out of Smith’s novels; young children may be introduced to the original classics simply because they were introduced to his work first. If the idea of Smith’s books is to get younger people interested in reading, then mash-
  7. 7. ups have done their job of intriguing younger people. Of course, there is bound to be negative attention drawn towards a classic book being turned into something childish and silly. Some may portray Smith’s work as “cheapening” Austen’s work entirely. Austen is a humorous author herself, but some may say that Smith’s work goes too far. It is also true that the story lines may be so different throughout these two books to the point where they are not even comparable—some may even consider Smith’s work to be plagiarism. Those that are against Smith’s work could claim that since the only true similarities between his book and Austen’s original books are the characters. Some argue that even the characters are not very comparable, and Smith only used their general names. Throughout Smith’s books, he may add too much of a zombie sub-story line to the point where it is no longer even similar to Austen’s originals. It can also be said that if a young person reads Smith’s work and enjoys it, they may not ever decide to read Austen’s classic; in comparison, Austen’s classic may seem dull and boring. Young authors might even be led to believe that the books are very similar to the point where they may not even need to read the original if they have read Smith’s adaptation, which is incorrect, since they are both independent stories. Personally, coming from a lifestyle that involves many of the people around me rarely picking up a magazine, let alone a novel, I could never turn down or insult a book that was
  8. 8. drawing in a younger audience, even if the premise seems childish or negative. I believe that it is more important to see younger people reading books at all. The context of the book, while is important, is not the most important aspect that should be looked into. In terms of whether or not Austen would appreciate the books that Smith has come up with, I can understand why an author wouldn’t be completely okay with someone remixing their work, and why some people might consider it “plagiarism.” But the fact is that Smith made sure that Austen’s name was on the front of the book, making her a main writer. Smith gives Austen all the credit that she deserves. Therefore, I think it is important to understand the entertainment purposes of this book and accept them for what they are, rather than assuming that Smith was attempting to insult Austen. As a new genre, I think that Smith has been very successful in terms of providing his audience with entertaining novels, making his name known in the world of authors, and marketing this new genre well.

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