1. For many people, P&P is their favorite Austen novel. Why do you think that’s true? Is that true for you? Why after 200 years, is this novel still so popular?
I like Pride very much (although my love for Persuasion slightly outweighs it). I think it’s because (especially in a Latter-day Saint culture) we see shadows of our society in theirs and the circumstances and characters in the novel are easy to relate to (or maybe even aspire to) it. Add the romance of a period setting and it is a recipe for popularity.
2. Jane is the eldest and is supposed to be the most beautiful of the Bennet daughters. Could Jane be the main heroine of P&P? Besides Jane Bennet, Jane Fairfax in Emma is also named Jane. Both of them are beautiful, lovely and everything desirable. What do you think of that, considering the author’s first name? J
Jane Bennet (in her circumstances) could definitely be set up as the formulaic main heroine in P&P but Austen smartly makes Elizabeth the focus.
I think it’s very cheeky that the Janes are lovely and desirable. I love it.
3. Compare and contrast male and female attitudes towards marriage in the novel. Think about Wickham, Charlotte Lucas and Lizzie. What kind of relationship between a man and a woman did Jane Austen idealize?
I think there is a similarity between the sexes regarding some views on marriage. Some people in the novel (on both sides of the gender line) view marriage as a business or social contract; devoid of love. (Think of how Caroline Bingley or Mr. Collins view marriage.)
I think Austen idealized a marriage full of love; however it seems that she was obviously torn with the money issue, as it appears in all of her novels. How does the necessary evil of money fit in with love? Does money beget love? How does the lack of money dissolve relationships? If money is necessary, is there such thing as a balance between the two? What if there were a balance between the two?...
4. In what ways was Lydia’s outcome predictable? What hints did you see? Lydia and Wickham pose a danger to the Bennet family as long as they are unmarried and unchecked. But as a married couple, with little improvement in their behavior, this danger vanishes. What do you think of that?
Lydia’s immature ideals and behavior regarding men is the indicator. I think the shift in Mrs. Bennet’s attitude toward them from when they are not married to when they are is interesting. She also shifts her attitude toward Mr. Darcy and it is not because Lizzie loves him, it is only because of the thought of her daughter marrying him and getting his money. As married people I think Lydia and Wickham seem to become each other’s problem, whereas as single people they are the problem of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Of course when they are unchecked and unmarried, there was the potential of social discipline and consequences that the whole Bennet family would feel.
5. What are Wickham’s motivations for engaging himself to Georgiana? For seducing Lydia? Compare him to Mr. Willoughby of Sense & Sensibility.
Wickham’s motives for doing anything involve lust, revenge or money. With Georgiana he was making a grab for a piece of the Darcy fortune. With Lydia he was thinking of revenge… and of his libido. It’s ironic that it is only when he marries Lydia that he gets [some] of the Darcy fortune. Mr. Willoughby has similar qualities and motives (think of how they are both at first, set up to be dashing, good catches), but I think Willoughby is much more of a scoundrel than Wickham is.
6. For you, who is the most interesting character in the novel?
For me, Charlotte Lucas is the most interesting character in the novel. (See #8)
7. Not everyone in P&P marries. Jane Austen suggests that in order to marry well a woman must be pretty, respectable, and have money. In the world of Pride and Prejudice, which of these is most important? Who else in that society is likely to make a good match? Think of Caroline Bingley, Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Mary Bennet, Miss DeBourgh, etc.
Hmm, being pretty, respectable and loaded seem to carry equal amounts of weight. I would think Caroline Bingley and possibly Miss DeBourgh would make “good” matches in the sense of marrying a man of fortune. Whether or not they would intentionally seek out a man for the purpose of having a happy marriage is something else all together. Kitty Bennet may have an attractive personality and good looks, but she is (at this age anyway) not very respectable and has no fortune; she may marry, but my guess is, like Lydia she will probably marry an officer. Mary has no fortune and has not the beauty or social graces that her older sisters have; I’m wondering that if Mary did not change, would she find anyone to marry. Mary missed a huge opportunity with Mr. Collins! (LOL) Georgiana Darcy has all three attributes, so I am confident in saying that in that society she alone (out of the girls on the above list) has the best chance for having a “good” match (marrying for both money and love).
8. Was Charlotte Lucas right to marry Mr. Collins? Why and why not? With Charlotte Lucas, was Jane Austen making a social criticism of her era’s view of marriage?
With the Lucas-Collins match I most definitely think Austen was making a social criticism on the then-current view of marriage. However, she used a sympathetic character to do it, which is very interesting.
Charlotte of course was right to marry Mr. Collins because he was her one and only shot at unburdening her family financially and socially, having children of her own and to gain social status and acceptance. Charlotte was wrong to marry Mr. Collins because he’s… you know… Mr. Collins. LOL
9. Would Mary have married Mr. Collins had he thought to ask her? Would they make a better match?
I think it is a shame Mr. Collins did not think of poor Mary when he came to Longbourn. By marrying Mary he would have fulfilled his desire to marry a Bennet daughter and keep the estate in the immediate family. I believe they may have been a better match than he and Charlotte, but then who would Charlotte marry? J
10. Is Mr. Bennet a positive or negative figure? Is he a good father and husband?
He seems very middle-of-the-road with a slight lean toward being a negative figure. I don’t think he is a particularly terrible father; yes he could have been more involved and attentive, but there are worse fathers and husbands.
11. P&P was originally titled First Impressions. Discuss both titles. What role do first impressions play in P&P? Do any of the characters change during the course of the novel, or is it our perspective that changes? To you, which characters remained the same?
I love First Impressions as a title but I think the title Pride & Prejudice encompasses and includes so many more characters in the book. That being said, first impressions are so important in this novel! Our first impression of Lady Catherine is exactly what she is. Our first impression of Wickham is deceiving. In some ways Mr. Darcy is the same throughout the novel, (his servants have always loved him and his character) in other ways he grows and sheds some of his pride (and prejudices). J