Pride and Prejudice cover

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

A timeless romance that isn't based on first encounters.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Perhaps the quintessential romance novel, Pride and Prejudice has been a symbol of romantic literature for centuries, beloved around the world. Its challenge of perceptions has made it a timeless classic, still resonating with audiences today. Charting Elizabeth Bennet’s encounters with love, the novel opens with the Bennet family in problematic circumstances. A household consisting of Mr and Mrs Bennet along with their five unmarried daughters, the issue is that there is no male heir and English Property Law at that time insists that any property be left to a male relative, which upon Mr Bennet’s death, means the family will be homeless and destitute.

Mrs Bennet sets about trying to marry off her children, hoping to settle them with respectable husbands of means. The timely news of the arrival of a wealthy bachelor in the local area, a Mr Bingley, sees Mrs Bennet hoping to pay him a visit and spark a romance between him and one of her daughters. This proves to be an uneasy feat as Mr Bingley is largely influenced by his overbearing sister and a close friend, a Mr Darcy. At a local ball, Elizabeth first becomes acquainted with Mr Darcy, a man who she finds snobbish and impudent. But as Elizabeth finds herself crossing paths with Mr Darcy on several occasions, they both find that there is more to one another than they first assumed.

Pride and Prejudice is a true classic of English literature, a novel that was written by a female in a time when novels by female authors weren’t widely accepted. The beauty of Pride and Prejudice is that it’s a novel that transcends its time, Elizabeth is strong-minded and not willing to settle for a marriage that she herself isn’t committed too. More so, the faults in the courtship between Elizabeth and Darcy are shown to be due to both their flaws, not placed singularly on one person. Although not of the same wealth or class, it becomes a relationship of equals.

How does Austen portray the demands of marriage placed on women at this time?

Compare and contrast the engagements throughout the novel. What do the characters value in marriage?

What are the main factors that contribute to a change in Elizabeth’s perceptions of Mr Darcy?

What do you interpret the overall message of Pride and Prejudice to be?

Wealth and social standing are significant in the book, how does Austen portray the spectrum of these themes?

What does Austen show through Elizabeth’s confrontation with Lady Catherine?

Why do you think Mr Bennet is so disinterested in the marital concerns that are rife amongst the females of his household?

Mrs Bennet is described as a neurotic housewife, Elizabeth and Mr Bennet seem to find her tedious at times. Why do you think Mrs Bennet is so focused on marrying off her daughters, is it for their stability and wellbeing or is it for her own satisfaction and social reputation?

What does Mr Darcy’s relationship with his sister, Georgiana, reveal about his nature?

Do you think that the character of Mr Wickham acts as a warning to young women around that time?

Pride-and-Prejudice-Discussion-Questions.pdf

Upon marrying Mr Wickham, Lydia and her new spouse return home to Longbourn where she gloats about her marriage and reveals the presence of Mr Darcy at the ceremony. The revelation about Darcy’s attendance, leads Elizabeth to write to Mrs Gardiner regarding the affair. Mrs Gardiner responds to her enquiry, informing Elizabeth that Mr Darcy was instrumental in finding the couple and arranging the marriage, consequently paying Mr Wickham. Shortly after, the two depart, heading up north where Wickham is newly assigned.

Not long after, Mr Bingley returns to town along with Mr Darcy. Bingley finally proposes to Jane, to everyone’s delight except his sister. While the Bennet family are in high spirits, Lady Catherine de Bourgh visits the Bennet residence and calls upon Elizabeth, interrogating her about her relationship with Mr Darcy. She has heard that her nephew is intending to propose and expresses her opinion on the unsuitable match.  Lady Catherine wants Mr Darcy to marry her own daughter and demands that Elizabeth refuse any offer from him. Elizabeth stands firm, not allowing Lady Catherine to control her decisions.

Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley attend the Bennet residence, calling upon Jane and Elizabeth for a stroll. During the walk, Elizabeth and Darcy are left alone and Darcy expresses his affections for Elizabeth, declaring that they haven’t changed. Elizabeth confesses that she now feels love towards him and accepts his proposal.

  • Austen completed the original manuscript for Pride and Prejudice (then known as ‘First Impressions’) at the age of twenty-one.
  • Austen wasn’t publicly known as the author of her titles until after her death. Her writings were published as ‘by a lady’, later with references to her previous works e.g. ‘by the author of Sense and Sensibility’.
  • Pride and Prejudice has had numerous adaptations from play, to film, to TV.

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