"And to this purpose"

"If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it." (In other words: rambling analyses, opinions, ideas, views, and comments from an English major, Essay/paper-writing enthusiastic, Austen-loving Master Librarian on, well, Jane Austen...and a whole lot of other things, too.)

"Celebrated Passages are Quoted"

Heidi's favorite quotes

"What is it really like to be engaged?" asked Anne curiously. "Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," answered Diana, with that maddening air of superior wisdom always assumed by those who are engaged over those who are not."— L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meredith's P&P Book Club Answers

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?

Okay, I'm not sure if it's my fav. Austen, but it is one of my
favorite books. Persuasion is probably my favorite Austen, but not
one of my (very small in number) favorite books. That doesn't really
make sense, but there you go. I think so many people like it because
the characters are relatable and it really it super hilarious, even

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?

I've wondered about that. It could be just that Jane was a super
common name back then. Because if I was putting a Meredith in a book,
she was be way more awesome than Jane Fairfax. But maybe it just
amused her to put in characters with her name.

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?

Wickham is scum! I think really the most telling attitude is
Charlotte Lucas's. It seems crazy to us now, but really, women back
in the day did not have the kind of opportunities we have. So her
"practical" view of marriage would probably never come from a man, who
can go out and get a job. Lizzie's just special.

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?

It's been such a long time since I read the book the first time, but
I remember being really surprised that Lydia ended up with Wickham.
Not that she ended doing something totally dumb, though. As for the
danger to the family, I think that's a lot of the difference from then
to now. Now we would want them to never see or speak to each other
again, because once they're married, you're stuck with a c?!p in-law. [Heidi-censored ;) ]

5. What are Wickham’s motivations for engaging himself to Georgiana?
For seducing Lydia? Compare him to Mr. Willoughby of Sense &

Wickham just wants money and/or the ladies. With Georgiana, he was
really planning ahead, in that he wanted to be provided for. With
Lydia, he was just trying to satisfy immediate wants. I think he and
Willoughby are a lot alike, except that Willoughby actually did love
Marianne, while I'm not sure Wickham ever loved anyone but himself.
But Willoughby still sucks.

6. For you, who is the most interesting character in the novel?

Ooh, good question. I'm not sure I can pick just one. How about the
Bennet family as a whole. It's so interesting the way they all relate
to each other, and the differences between the sisters, or the
differences between Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner. It makes you wonder
about how they were raised.

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,

I'll say respectable. At least for the good matches. The reason I
say that is because of Jane and Lizzie, who for sure make the best
matches, mostly because they're awesome. They're also pretty, but
their awesomeness is what really snags them the good fellas. I'm sure
that Georgiana Darcy will make a great match. Caroline Bingley will
probably make a "good" match, but I'll bet she's not very happy.
Kitty will make a middling match, Mary will marry someone weird, and
Miss DeBourgh will remain single.

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?

For Charlotte, I think it was the right thing to do. But it's not a
fun or cool thing for her to have to do. I definitely think it's a
criticism of the time. The fact that awesome Charlotte gets trapped
in this kind of relationship isn't fair.

9. Would Mary have married Mr. Collins had he thought to ask her?
Would they make a better match?

Probably. Poor Mary. I think if Mr. Collins could get past his thing
with people's looks, they probably would have made a good match. But
their kids would have been totally screwed.

10. Is Mr. Bennet a positive or negative figure? Is he a good father
and husband?

I love Mr. Bennet. He's hilarious. But I don't think he's a good
father at all. I think he really loves his family, but he certainly
doesn't treat them very well, or take care of them very well. And he
was stupid enough to marry Mrs. Bennet, so he can't complain that his
wife if dumb. I think he would have been a great "cool bachelor
uncle" type.

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?

Some of the characters definitely change, esp. Elizabeth and Darcy.
But our perspective about them changes, too. I really hated Darcy for
the first part of P&P the first time I read it, but by the end I loved
him a lot. I thought that my perspective had just changed. But when
I read it again, I realized that he had changed too. He's really a
jerk in the beginning. Not as much as I originally thought, but
still, he wasn't super nice in the beginning. Other people, like
Wickham, don't change. We just grow to understand them better. First
impressions are very important with Elizabeth and Darcy, but I'm still
glad Austen changed the title. Pride and Prejudice is more catchy.


Heidi said...

I also wonder how Mrs. Bennet & Mr. Gardiner were raised. As well as the Bennet girls. How did the 2 oldest turn out so well and the 3 youngest...not? With all of those (mostly horrible) spin-offs and sequels, why have we never thought to do a prequel?

Meredith said...

Excellent question, Heidi. Although a prequel probably wouldn't be very good either. But I have definitely wondered about their families a whole bunch.