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 think it’s a favorite for some because of the ’95 film version! :-) But honestly, I think it’s because it is her work with the most relatable characters. I think readers enjoy the banter between Darcy and Elizabeth. Both proposal scenes are hilarious. Who doesn’t enjoy agreeing with Mr. Bennet that he has 3 very silly daughters indeed? The awkwardness of the first meeting at Pemberly is one we could all relate to in some way. And then the joy that two people who are very suited for each other eventually do come together. It is a favorite as far as it being the first Austen I read. But of her stories, style, and characters put together, it is not my favorite.
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 don’t think Jane is the main heroine. I think she’s the supporting heroine that helps you see some of Lizzie’s flaws (as well as good sense and playful nature) and how she improves upon them. A true heroine in a novel should be one who experiences some sort of growth. You don’t see that in Jane Bennet.
As for the name, I don’t think she’s saying something. I could be wrong. But it seemed that Jane Fairfax was meant to be portrayed as annoying because she was so “perfect” and that though she is everything desirable, she was not desirable. But then, maybe Austen was making a statement on that—trying to be everything considered desirable and was still not so, particularly because of her social status.
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 needed to marry money to help him in the way he used to living, but didn’t mind anything extramarital. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was fine with those after marriage, too. Charlotte needed marriage for security—to get her out of her parents’ home and giving her the opportunity to run her own home. Love didn’t matter, nor did intense wealth. As long as she could have a comfortable home and lifestyle, she would be willing to put up with anything else. Which she did…. Lizzie wants to marry for love. I think that was Austen’s ideal. Wealth did not matter, nor did station. Love could conquer all—though many might make the journey a little smoother.
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?
Actually, the first time I ever read the book I was surprised at the exact outcome. I never thought she would go that far. But predictable behavior patterns that I could see would be her constant flirtation. Lead a man on with some tempting and eventually he will follow with the intention to take. Couples may be silly, poor, snobbish, rude, or mean, but as long as they are married they are committing no huge crime against society. A shame that the world doesn’t even think that way anymore.
5. What are Wickham’s motivations for engaging himself to Georgiana? For seducing Lydia? Compare him to Mr. Willoughby of Sense & Sensibility.
Wickham wants revenge on Darcy and Georgiana’s fortune. Lydia? He just wanted some action. Maybe even he was taking a little revenge on Lizzie because she no longer had interest in him after the Miss King incident—though that may be stretching it a bit. Willougby first sought our Marianne for fun and pleasure (seeing as she had no fortune). Maybe even a bit of revenge toward Colonel Brandon (because I assume he knew who Eliza was and I could see awful Willoughby doing something like that). That he genuinely fell for Marianne was not too bad at first because he had a promising inheritance. But once the inheritance was taken away, he had no money and his mercenariness took over. The two are very similar. Right down to the beginning letters. It’s so “wicked,” “wily,” and “womanizing” can flow well with their names.
6. For you, who is the most interesting character in the novel?
Lizzie. She’s the one I get to know more of, the one I see change a lot, and the one whose thoughts I’m more privileged to be a part of. Because I relate to her and in many ways would like to be like her, I probably put more interest to her than exists in the book. But that’s why we are readers—to read in some things that others may not read.
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.
I think of those 3 choices, the part of the P&P world Austen wants to be more important is respectable. Caroline has money and will probably make some wealthy match that will not have happiness. How could there be with her snotty, conniving personality traits? The book indicates that Kitty has better influence and society once Lizzie is married, which makes me think she will be more respectable in the long run. And though not having wealth herself, being related to it may improve her chances and I think she could be decently happy. For Mary, it is said that she stays home with her mother. I don’t think she has much desire for marriage unless “another Mr. Collins” comes by. Miss de Bourgh I doubt will ever find marriage, but to no fault of her own. Money she has. Respectability of course. But if she had beauty it probably was twisted away (unintentionally) by her over-bearing mother. And said mother would be so particular over any suitor that now cannot be Darcy that she’d probably drive them all away before Anne even knew of their existence! Georgiana will make the best match, having all 3 assets as well as a brother and sister-in-law who will make sure all else is in place, too.
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?
Considering how life was for females, I can see why she was right for security purposes. But I cannot bring myself to that much unhappiness for the rest of my life. I definitely think Austen was giving her opinion on society’s view of marriage.
9. Would Mary have married Mr. Collins had he thought to ask her? Would they make a better match?
Every movie version I’ve ever seen puts that twist into it. But I honestly never got that when I read the book. I can’t remember, but does it say that Mary is ugly? Or just plain? I mean, I know Lizzie’s beauty outshone her, but I never thought Mary was ugly. (And I hate that movies like to portray her as such—except in the LDS version). My guess is Mr. Collins went for Lizzie because of her beauty and her happier countenance. Obviously Mary’s brain and philosophizing never came to his notice before, during, or after the Lizzie “courtship.” My guess is it never would have. Had Mary been a little more forthcoming in society and tried to dress herself even a little (for Charlotte was plain, and yet still made an effort to look her best), then maybe she stood a chance. But my guess is he wouldn’t have ever come to ask her. And if somehow he had, would Mary have answered yes? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps she’d never thought of marrying. Who is to say? But I think Lady Catherine was definitely happier with Charlotte than she ever would have been with Mary.
10. Is Mr. Bennet a positive or negative figure? Is he a good father and husband?
Some movies portray him as very positive. The book doesn’t show him as negative, just that he did have some brusque things about him, or at times could be too careless and not present for his family. Just because you made the mistake in your choice of marriage partner, that does not give you the excuse to hide away in your library and do as you want when you want. And just because somehow you have an income that supports your family does not mean you don’t have to help in any other ways to raise your family. He has weaknesses, but he could be a lot worse than he is. So, umm….neutral?
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?
Both titles still work. In fact, some editions have “first impressions” as the subtitle. First impressions are the main reason that the pride & prejudice become instigated in this novel. Both Darcy and Elizabeth form impressions of each other at the first meeting and hold to those opinions—Lizzie particularly. It is only as they later get to know more of each other that they realize how much in common they have and how suitable they are for each other. It is scary how much of an impact first impressions have on others and we would wish people would learn lessons to get to know others better before having personal opinions that affect your relations with them. However, that is not the case. Thus, we must be careful of our first impressions!