At last! I'm posting my P&P book club discussion answers. So much going on that it took a while to get to. That and I've been sick. So forgive whatever does not quite make sense.
1. Pride and Prejudice is probably Austen's most famous, most beloved book. One element, the initial mutual dislike of two people destined to love each other, has become a cliché of the Hollywood romance. I'm sure you can think of numerous examples.
Oh my word. Yes. And in literature, too. I was just talking to my co-worker that so many of Chris Heimerdinger’s couples are predictable: if they fight a lot when they meet, they will eventually fall in love. It’s kind of annoying.
In movies: the main couple in “27 Dresses.” Tons of Christmas romance movies. “Ever After,” at least on Danielle’s side at the beginning. “Geek Charming” (my guilty pleasure). And more than I care to think up right now.
2. In 1814 Mary Russell Mitford wrote: "It is impossible not to feel in every line of Pride and Prejudice...the entire want of taste which could produce so pert, so worldly a heroine as the beloved of such a man as Darcy.... Darcy should have married Jane." Would you have liked the book as well if Jane were its heroine?
Absolutely not. I LOVE Lizzie’s character! I have always longed for so much of my personality to be like her. I don’t mind Jane, but I don’t love her like Lizzie. Would not want to see her disappointed in hopes. That’s already my life. Let me at least join a spunky girl who is fine with being single and loves life.
And let me also say: Darcy marrying Jane? That would have been awful. How bored he would have been and how unloved she might have felt.
3. Have you ever seen a movie version in which the woman playing Jane was, as Austen imagined her, truly more beautiful than the woman playing Elizabeth?
Twice. I thought the Jane in the 1980s version was much prettier than Lizzie. Jane in the 90s version had potential if they didn’t put her in ugly dresses and unflattering hairstyles. I think Jane in the ’05 movie is scads prettier than Kiera Knightley. Then again, I don’t really like Kiera Knightley….
4. 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?
Depends on which character you ask. Wickham needs a wife with money. The one he got wasn’t very respectable. Darcy wanted a respectable wife, preferably one with money (=status). Bingley wanted respectable and didn’t mind that she was pretty. Mr. Bennett went for pretty and lost out on the other two. Mr. Gardiner went for respectable, and bonus, got the others in the bargain.
5. Spare a thought for some of the unmarried women in the book—Mary and Kitty Bennett, Miss de Bourgh, Miss Georgiana Darcy, poor, disappointed Caroline Bingley. Which of them do you picture marrying some day? Which of them do you picture marrying well?
I know Kitty marries—because Austen said so years after publication! (And Bebris incorporated that into her Mr. & Mrs. Darcy series, which I was very happy about.) Miss Darcy will probably have the best marriage because she has the two best people looking out for her best interests, as well as having a good fortune to open up her choices.
6. Was Charlotte Lucas right to marry Reverend Collins?
I have answered this before, and I still stick to that answer: 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.
7. What are your feelings about Mr. Bennet? Is he a good father? A good husband? A good man?
I get so mixed up in my opinion of him having now seen numerous film adaptations of him. I can’t quite remember how he is in the book! Memory niggles at my brain to suggest that he was more absent than he should be as a father—hence so many problems that occur before and during the novel. Still, he at least was present and he made sure his children were provided for. That’s more than can be said for other fathers of that time or at the present.
And the same would go as a husband. He may not be the ideal, supportive, loving, kind man so many of us would wish for. Or, at least, that I wish for. But he stayed put. He could have left the whole family. He could have decided to cheat on his silly wife, but I don’t get that impression. He puts up with her whims and follies and the only way he knows that does not include abandonment or refusal to support her financially. You have to give him something even if it isn’t the ideal.
A good man? Better than others we see in literature or real-life. Compare him to Wickham and I’d say he is a very good man.
8. Darcy says that one of Wickham's motivations in his attempted elopement with Georgiana was revenge. What motivations might he have had for running off with Lydia? (Besides the obvious...)
Again, I’ve answered a similar question and here was my former response: 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.
9. Elizabeth Bennett says,".... people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever." Do any of the characters in the book change substantially? Or do they, as Elizabeth says of Darcy, "in essentials" remain much as they ever were?
Their opinions and choices change substantially. Never was quite sure what she meant by “in essentials.” And I’ve had sick brain all week, so I don’t have the ability to fathom that out right now. Sorry!
10. Elizabeth is furious with Darcy for breaking up the match between Jane and Mr. Bingley. Although he initially defends himself, she changes his mind. Later when Lady Catherine attempts to interfere in his own courtship, he describes this as unjustifiable. Should you tell a friend if you think they're about to make a big mistake romantically? Have you ever done so? How did that work out for you?
If I feel that it will bring a lot of unhappiness to them, yes. I mention my opinion but do not expect it to be conceded. I did speak up once. She did not agree, but it brought us closer after I voiced concerns and she allayed them. Over the years, they have made their marriage work, but it was very rough to start with. It was hard as a friend to see it, but I still stuck by her side as she went through it.
11. Is Elizabeth consistent in her actions? Is she a fully developed character? How? Why?
Elizabeth is not consistent in her actions because she learns lessons and changes/fixes what needs changing. She is not a fully developed character because how boring would that be! I don’t want to read about people who are done and have no need for growth. I have a lifetime of growth ahead of me and I don’t want to literarily feel alone that others have figured it all out already and have no need of trial, learning, growth, and change.