Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Strength & Skill

By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Strength & Skill

"Do not mistake my indulgence for a relaxation in discipline," said Mr. Bennet. "The girls shall continue their training as ever—Bingley or no Bingley." 

"Of course, of course!" cried Mrs. Bennet. "They shall be as deadly as they are fetching!" (2.13-14)

Boys or no boys, the important thing is to stay alive, right? Keep those skills sharp. On the other hand, we get the feeling Mrs. Bennet doesn't 100% agree with this sentiment.

He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty and fighting skill he had heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining from an upper window that he wore a blue coat, rode a black horse, and carried a French carbine rifle upon his back—quite an exotic weapon for an Englishman. However, from his clumsy wielding of it, Elizabeth was quite certain that he had little training in musketry or any of the deadly arts. (3.4)

So Mr. Bingley is a young, handsome rich guy who doesn't know how to defend himself against a zombie. What has he been doing with his time? Maybe he needs to be looking for a wife with some skills?

His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion, but little in the way of combat training. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien—and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having slaughtered more than a thousand unmentionables since the fall of Cambridge. (3.6)

Mr. Darcy is the total package: tall, handsome, and a killer—of zombies, that is. Too bad he's such a stone-cold jerk. But hey, no man's perfect.

"In my experience, a woman is either highly trained or highly refined. One cannot afford the luxury of both in such times. As for my sisters and I, our dear father thought it best that we give less of our time to books and music, and more to protecting ourselves from the sorry stricken." (8.45)

Elizabeth has a point here. After Mr. Darcy goes down his list of all the qualities a woman needs to be "accomplished," Elizabeth tells him that's nonsense. She only had time to get good at one thing: mowing down the undead. Does he really think knowing how to play the pianoforte is gonna help when a horde of zombies is busting down your door?

"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done." 

"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not possess the strength your aunt's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same deadly results. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not take the trouble of practising." (31.24-25)

Burn. Elizabeth basically tells Mr. Darcy something he must already know: no one gets good at anything without practicing. She didn't learn to be a warrior without honing her skills, and he's not gonna be any good at chatting people up without working on it first. Gauntlet thrown.

Elizabeth had frequently united with Jane in punishing the imprudence of Catherine and Lydia with wet bamboo; but while they were supported by their mother's indulgence, what chance could there be of improvement? Catherine, undisciplined, irritable, and completely under Lydia's guidance, had been always affronted by their attempts at correcting her; and Lydia, self-willed and dimwitted, would scarcely give them a hearing. They were ignorant, idle, and vain. While Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there forever, killing zombies only when it interfered with their chances of flirting with an officer. (37.17)

Sure, all the Bennet sisters have been trained in the deadly arts, but some of them are more serious about it than others. Kitty and Lydia can kill a zombie, but they don't have the discipline and dedication that Elizabeth and Jane do. No wonder Lydia winds up in such trouble.

"Your daughter's fortune is indeed splendid. But pray tell, what other qualities does she possess? Is she fetching? Is she trained in the deadly arts? Has she even strength enough to lift a Katana?" (56.49)

Elizabeth trash talks Lady Catherine here. Anne de Bourgh may have some good qualities (like money), but she doesn't have the strength or skill that Elizabeth does. Does Lady Catherine really think that's gonna catch Mr. Darcy's eye?

"It would take skills far exceeding your own to draw but a single bead of exercise moisture from my skin. Weak, silly girl! So long as there is life in this old body, you shall never again be in the company of my nephew!" (56.69)

This is big talk coming from a woman with twenty-five ninjas to guard her. Basically, Lady Catherine doesn't think Elizabeth has the skills to beat her. Is it because Elizabeth trained in China? In any case, her ladyship will soon find out how wrong she is.

Elizabeth and Darcy laughed at the sight, and for a moment, resolved to keep walking—as the zombies had failed to take notice of them. But, sharing a glance and a smile, the pair realised they had stumbled onto their first opportunity to fight side by side. And so they did. (58.32)

Oh, how sweet: their first zombie slaying adventure. The couple who slays together stays together.

Jane and Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other. Determined that they should keep their skills sharp, though His Majesty no longer required them to do so, their husbands built them a sparring cottage precisely between the two estates, in which the sisters met joyously and often. (61.4)

It doesn't make sense that two of the best zombie slayers in England would just put down their swords because they got married. We're glad the Bennet sisters have kept their skills sharp. Zombies better watch out.