VII TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Reread the first two sentences of chapter 1. Does the novel demonstrate those sentences to be true? Why do families vigorously compete for single men such as Charles Bingley?
2. Discuss Bingley’s character. He is rich, friendly, and sociable, but he deserts Jane rather easily. How do you judge his treatment of her? Why doesn’t he more vigorously resist his sisters’ efforts to separate him from Jane?
3. Look back at the dance scenes in chapters 3 and 5. How do the towns-people change in their opinion of Darcy? What do these scenes show you about the way people make judgments?
4. Why do the Bingley sisters form lasting judgments of the Bennets based on the events following Jane’s visit to Netherfield? What scheme does Mrs. Bennet devise? What prevents Jane from returning home? How do the Bingleys interpret her stay at their home? How do they view Elizabeth’s walking from Longbourn to Netherfield?
5. What kind of person is Mary Bennet, the middle daughter? What makes her unique in the family? Can she be considered a satirical character? Why or why not?
6. What is Mr. Collins’s main motive for getting married? Why does he decide to propose to one of the Bennet daughters? Why does Elizabeth turn him down, and why does this rejection anger her mother? Is Mrs. Bennet wrong?
7. When Charlotte accepts Mr. Collins’s proposal, Elizabeth is shocked and angry. Why does Charlotte choose to marry the unimpressive clergyman? Is Elizabeth’s harsh judgment of Charlotte correct?
8. When he first proposes to Elizabeth, Darcy admits that he loves her. Why, then, is she offended? What attitudes does he reveal through his marriage offer?
9. Besides disliking Darcy’s general demeanor, Elizabeth resents him for two acts-wronging Wickham and influencing Bingley to reject her sister Jane. It turns out that Darcy actually treated Wickham better than he deserved. But what about his manipulation of Bingley? Why should Elizabeth forgive him for contributing to her sister’s pain?
10. Why does Elizabeth feel it is inappropriate for Lydia to spend two months in Brighton with Colonel Forster’s wife? Why does Lydia want to go? Mr. Bennet listens to Elizabeth’s objections but allows Lydia to go. Why? Why does the elopement bring disgrace to the family?
11. What kind of woman is Lady Catherine de Bourgh? How would you describe her relationships with others? Which of her traits surface in her nephew Darcy? In her daughter Anne? Clearly she seeks to control others’ lives, but she ends up inadvertently promoting the marriage she is trying to prevent. How? Why do you think Elizabeth urges Darcy to make peace with her, even though she has insulted Elizabeth greatly?
12. Jane and Elizabeth marry happily, but Lydia’s life seems dreary at best. Do you think the ending is cruel and vindictive? Does it appear that the narrator is almost gloating over Lydia’s misfortune?
13. Does the world of the novel appeal to you? Would you want to live there? Why does Jane Austen value country life?
14. Considering Elizabeth’s prodigious talents, what might she do with her life in the modern world?
VIII IDEAS FOR REPORTS AND PAPERS
1. A moralist attempts to educate readers about the principles of right and wrong that he or she feels should govern human life. What principles does Pride and Prejudice espouse? Which specific incidents and characters bring out these principles?
2. Analyze Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as parents. What seem to be their strengths and weaknesses? How do their personalities and habits appear in their five children? What do you think the novel shows about parenthood?
3. Analyze the novel’s title. Who else besides Darcy and Elizabeth displays prejudice and pride? In what incidents? What makes the hero and heroine different from these other characters? What does the novel show the reader about pride and prejudice?
4. What distinguishes characters who are portrayed favorably from characters who are portrayed unfavorably? Elizabeth from Lydia? Darcy from Wickham and Collins? Jane from Mrs. Bennet and the Bingley sisters?
5. Etiquette-the distinction between good and bad manners-plays a major role in the world of the novel. Which characters are rude or tacky? In what specific ways? How does the behavior of polite characters differ? Why do you think social form and appearance are so important in this culture? In what ways does the modern world view manners similarly? Differently?
6. After you have completed Pride and Prejudice, view the film version. Does the movie successfully capture the characters and the world of the novel? What are the film’s drawbacks? How does it differ from the book? Which did you enjoy more?
7. English history is more than a chronology of wars and rulers. Examine the condition of women in Jane Austen’s era. Did urban women live differently than those in the country? What factors led to the expansion of opportunities for women?