Discussion Post: How Pride & Prejudice Does Enemies-to-Lovers Different Than Modern Day YA Books

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride & Prejudice is THE enemies to lovers book— in the sense that it was published much before all the 21st century novels with this evergreen trope.

But then the question arises, is enemies to lovers really evergreen?? Personal and probably unpopular opinion alert: I feel, especially in the last few weeks when I’ve been on a YA contemporary binge (owing to the summer-y weather, obviously), that this trope is slowly being diluted in newer releases and/or being forced upon the story without any apparent reason.

No hate on the trope obviously, quite the opposite. It is, in theory, one of my favourite tropes, my one true weakness, the cause of something going into my eye and causing it to water (i’m not crying you’re crying) while reading and the reason for my poor half bitten nails.

And there have been plenty of books which have executed it in ALL of it’s glory if not more (*side eyes These Violent Delights, Six of Crows, We Hunt The Flame etc*), Pride & Prejudice included, so please note that I’m definitely NOT referring to these books when I roast certain aspects of the 21st century adaptation of enemies to lovers.

Lately I keep finding new releases (thankfully, the number is still much lower than the books who have brought it honour) with character relationships that almost bring shame to the grandeur of our beloved trope. And after having spent 11 hours of my life listening to P&P and rooting for Elizabeth and Darcy all those hours more than I’ve probably ever rooted for someone, I feel more than *ahem* accomplished to compare the execution of enemies to lovers in this majestic classic to the one in recent YA novels.

In true loving-anything-with-bullet-points fashion, a list of some of the merits of enemies to lovers in Pride & Prejudice!

Note: This does not contain any major spoilers so even if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you’re all good! In fact, I might just convince you to read it by the end of the post ;))

There’s a compelling and realistic build-up to the tension. There are actual, legitimate reasons why our main couple dislike each other. They get off on the wrong foot because Darcy is seen as unpleasant and arrogant and Elizabeth as a lowly girl having poor connections by the other. Circumstances further heighten Elizabeth’s dislike— gossip about him having been cruel, his interfering in her sister’s marriage etc.
Certainly not like some books where random people look at each other the first time and declare the other to be their sworn enemy after NO conversation at all and like zero reason except for the fact that the author thought “oh the people like enemies to lovers?? let me force squeeze it into my book somehow”. I kid you not, this ACTUALLY happened in a book I read *cough* tokyo ever after *cough*

There’s a long period of time for feelings to evolve, and it’s actions that cause them to reconsider their initial hatred. The entire shebang of Lizzy and Darcy meeting and finally getting together spans about a year I think. Also, they were frequently miles away and not staring each other in the face ALL THE TIME. And it was after Darcy’s sudden change in behaviour, the clearing of the bad name that had been put on him that Elizabeth began to doubt whether he deserved her disregard. So just like there were reasons for them to hate each other, there were also valid reasons for them to overcome the hate.
The eternal conundrum in YA, I find, is how to make them fall in love? The answer apparently has not yet been discovered. Usually it’s a few days of forced proximity, one sudden kiss and BOOM they’re in love. Like girl he’s exactly the way he was before so why do you suddenly like him?? (*cough* not here to be liked *cough*)I now almost believe proximity will make anyone fall in love with anyone. (Well considering the situations authors put their characters into where they have to be near each other the entire time, I guess it’s not really the characters’ fault. I mean, I’d “fall in love” with my sworn enemy if it meant I could go atleast an hour without having to see their stupid face soo)

The absence of physical intimacy further brought out the chemistry between them. (a huge thanks to kaya @afictionalbookworm for suggesting this point!) It wasn’t like they could even touch each other because propriety and all BUT. Instead of lessening their chemistry, this “fallback” enhanced it because we could actually see their bond in their words without it having to be obvious with them getting physical. I’d call it a win for Miss Austen.

Society required that they be civil to each other. And boy was it entertaining to watch. Sure, we all love sassy banter and knife-to-throat scenes, but being forced to be polite and exchange pleasantries with someone you hate?? It was almost equally entertaining. Though I felt a little guilty sometimes for enjoying their immense discomfort, Elizabeth’s polite badassery and Darcy’s deadpan and brutally honest statements got me through it.
For once it was not like our “enemies” could actually kill each other (fantasy novels, looking at you) or even exchange outright insulting words and this was, surprise surprise, actually refreshing.

The couple did not always reciprocate each other’s sentiments. For some reason I haven’t seen a lot of one-sidedness in modern YA?? The couple are generally unanimous in their enemity and unanimous in their love declarations later. In P&P however, we have hate at first sight from one and a general dislike but of much less intensity from the other at the beginning. Then there’s a growing but unrequited affection that is only returned at the very end of the book. And yeah, this actually sounds more realistic than what we see in YA, because I don’t think when someone says “I’ve always loved you” the other ALWAYS replies “oh yes I have too”. Rejection exists dude. Even Mr. Collins knew that.

Have you read Pride & Prejudice?? What did you think of Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship? Do you also feel like some of the recent YA releases are not entirely doing justice to enemies to lovers?? Let’s have an open discussion in the comments!

24 thoughts on “Discussion Post: How Pride & Prejudice Does Enemies-to-Lovers Different Than Modern Day YA Books

  1. AHHHH, RACHEL!!! YOU COMBINED ONE OF MY FAVORITE CLASSICS WITH ONE OF MY MOST ADORED TROPES IN THIS POST!! 🤗🤩🤗 HOW COULD I NOT LOVE THIS?!

    But seriously, I loved this 🥰 And I agree with everything. Period. Jane Austen simply does enemies-to-lovers perfectly because, yes, the people should actually have reasons why they hate each other! And then they should have reasons why they end up loving each other, beyond “Oh my god, look at the other person’s hot body, I just can’t help myself” 🙈🙄 Seriously, that slow-burn discovery of the other person’s good qualities is probably my favorite thing about the enemies-to-lovers trope, which is why quite a few more recent supposed “enemies-to-lovers” releases had me wanting to fling the book across the room in frustration for not including it…

    And also, yes!! The fact that Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are forced to be polite to each other despite their hatred is awesome! 🤩 And it also makes for the most incredible, witty banter between them, so they can at least get a few barbs in at each other under society’s watchful eye… 😇

    But anyway, I’m thrilled to hear you loved Pride & Prejudice, and will now be eagerly awaiting your thoughts on Jane Austen’s other works 😁🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHA THEN YOU CERTAINLY HAVE GOOD TASTE BECAUSE SAME HERE!!
      i know right?? it annoys me to no end when “enemies” are suddenly attracted to each other without any apparent reason.
      ahhh the way i was rooting SO hard for elizabeth and darcy to get together through all my 11 hours of listening to the book!! THAT is how angst is done!
      haha then i’m afraid you’ll be kept waiting a little because i’m STILL afraid of classics lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed with all of these points.
    In one of the books with this trope that I read recently, the sworn enemies became lovers so quickly I was like dudee then what was the point in being enemies at all? It was so unsatisfying.
    Pride and Prejudice remains one of the bests and a lot of modern enemies to lovers could try learning some things from it.
    Great discussion post Rachel🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yay glad you do! same,, it was actually reading Tokyo Ever After and P&P in quick succession that inspired this post!
      thank you so much diya!!

      Like

  3. I really enjoyed your take on this. I don’t love the enemies to lovers trope as much as some do but it’s still a romance trope I enjoy. I hadn’t thought too much about P&P and the modern YA books with such tropes so it’s a very interesting discussion you’ve brought here

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Rejection exists dude. Even Mr. Collins knows that.” PLSSSS THE MR. COLIN SLANDER I’M CACKLING💀💀 Honestly though, this is one of my all-time favorite posts because you did such a fantastic job comparing the absolute unique brilliance of P and P’s take on enemies to lovers vs. so many modern YA books. I 100% agree on all of your points. Like, it unfolded SO realistically and the tension/romance just…naturally happened. Also, thank you for including my thoughts! Great post Rachel!💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. excuse you djdjdjdkdkfjfj p&p is NOT the best enemies to lovers 😂

    i love all the points you’ve listed, enemies to lovers is in my top three fav tropes !! I’ve never been too keen on the idea of reading p&p but after this post 👀 I’ll probably give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yesssssssss 1,000 times YES!

    I can’t stand when either the hate is random and unfounded, or when the hate is deserved and then just suddenly overlooked because “love makes everything better?!?! You said it well: “one sudden kiss and BOOM they’re in love. Like girl he’s exactly the way he was before so why do you suddenly like him??

    Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book and Enemies to Lovers is my favorite trope ❤ but I completely agree that so many new books just don't do it justice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAY glad you agree!
      haha yeah its like you put on a love lens that shows you a completely different person than the one you hated until a minute ago.
      wow that’s great, p&p definitely deserves all the love it gets!!

      Like

  7. no but RACHEL!! I love this, and i think you’ve somehow convinced me to re-read pride and prejudice?? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY. but anyway, i agree with everything!! PRIDE AND PREJUDICE IS 17261718198% THE BEST ENEMIES TO LOVERS OF EVER, and GOSH all the tension is JSGJYUGEHWAEHJQWDJW (also that jab to tokyo ever after?? SORRY BUT I AM TOO BUSY SCREAMING IN DELIGHT UPON HAVING FOUND A FELLOW DISLIKER) and omg YESSS! the ‘be-polite-to-each-other-despite-you-wanting-to-kill-them’ just adds so much to all the amusement, IT IS THE BEST.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. just my usual bLacK mAgIc 😌
      ahhh yess the angst was superior!! (OMG YOU TOO?? HERE I THOUGHT I WAS WALLOWING ALONE IN MY HATRED BUT SERIOUSLY THE WAY SHE JUST PROCLAIMED HER OWN BODYGUARD TO BE HER ENEMY UPON SIGHT WAS EW) thank you anoushka!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. These are all such good points! p&p is one of my fave novels and I completely agree that it’s so good at the enemies to lovers trope. There’s a reason to them being enemies, and their journey to lovers is a slow burn (which a lot of books like to speed through) with lots of development, which I love

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  9. AHHH OKAY RACHEL THIS POST HAS DEFINITELY DEFINITELY CONVINCED ME TO CONTINUE READING PRIDE AND PREJUDICE , also sorry I’m commenting so late ahh I had to do homework 😭
    AND ENEMIES TO LOVERS IS THE TROPE, and we all see you crying HAHAH (don’t worry I’m crying too) These violent delights pulls off the trope so so beautiful akkkkskdksks THANK YOU FOR CONVINCING ME TO READ IT, completely worth it!!
    ALSO GO WATCH THE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE MOVIE IT IS>>>> (idk how accurate it is SO DONT COME AT ME)
    I’M EVEN MORE EXCITED TO CONTINUE READING IT NOW AHHHH!!!! LOVED THIS POST💖💖💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HA SEE I KNEW IT WOULD ahhh yeah i know im swamped with homework too hence the late reply.
      HEY NO SOMETHING WENT INTO MY EYE OK. i knowww romajuliette is NEXT LEVEL.
      i will i will, one of these weekends will be dedicated to it haha!!

      Like

  10. Ha yes! what a great post!!! I LOVE P&P and it’s the most realistic enemies to lovers. And not here to be liked was… how do I put it? the enemies to lovers part was meh but I enjoyed the book due to kinda funny narration (I had just finished a serious book…). I completely agree with your post because I recently picked up a book with the trope but it was so poorly written. Like they HATED each other like just a day back and the MC’s dad said ‘that boy has loved you like forever’ and then she was like AHH OK I LOVE HIM TOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you I needed this post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you khyati! yasss it has become a favourite of mine too! hm i’m glad you enjoyed not here to be liked more than me,, who knows, maybe i could give the audiobook a try sometime! yeah that actually sounds like a lot of books i know and ew.

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