English 4310 – Study Questions – Pride and Prejudice 1 . Titles of literary works are always significant; in Austen’s novel, the title is highly significant to the central conflict in the narrative. Discuss the title and its significance. The title of Pride and Prejudice is significant because the central conflict between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, as well as several other characters, is fueled by their intense possession of pride and prejudice. Elizabeth holds several prejudices toward Darcy based a lot on commentary from other people and only her brief interactions with him.
She doesn’t take the time to et to know him personally before forming her own inaccurate Judgments about him. It is only after she hears his side of things through his letter that she begins to change her ideas about him, as evident in her explanation to Darcy, “ she explained what its effect on her had been and how gradually all her former prejudice had been removed” g). Darcy, on the other hand, possesses a lot of pride. He was raised to believe his money and status placed him above other people and that he was better than them because of it.
So, he initially believes that Elizabeth is beneath him also, but after being round her he grew to like her despite that, but still against his will. His pride is also evident in the fact that, in regard to his first proposal, he had no doubts that Elizabeth would accept. Their warring pride and prejudice is something the characters must overcome in order to see each other as they truly are, accept one another, and realize that the other is their perfect match because they are in fact very much alike. . Choose three specific examples of humor in the novel and explain how Austen creates this humor and the purpose it serves (development of character, irony, satire, tc. ). 1 . The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is humorous” to an extent. Mr. Bennet likes to tease and agitate Mrs. Bennet’s nerves a bit. He likes to play with her already sensitive nature toward the overdramatic. For example, when Mrs. B is urging him to visit Mr. Bingley after he first arrives in town, Mr.
B flat out refuses, even though he does in fact plan on paying Bingley a visit. This partly serves to characterize Mr. B as the more rational, laid back side of the couple, and Mrs. B as the overdramatic one who is always in a fit over something. However, it also haracterizes their relationship because Mr. B enjoys agitating his wife, in a way finding some sort of release in a mmarriage that we find out later he is not happy in having married for looks only. The interactions between Darcy and Miss Bingley are also comedic because ot the way he flat out ignores her advances and obvious interest in him, and the ridiculous nature of her behavior when he is present. It is also ironic that Darcy wants nothing to do with her who matches his level of status and clearly desires him, but instead he finds interest in Elizabeth who is exactly the opposite and who he feels in beneath im. 3. Mrs. Bennet also serves comedic purpose on her own.
She is very dramatic in her emotions and reactions, specifically regarding her daughters and the men they are involved with. For example, when it is evident that Mr. Bingley has interest in Jane, she absolutely loves him and has only nice things to say about him, praising him constantly, but when he leaves and she finally accepts that he isn’t going to return and marry her daughter, she flips her attitude and instead regards him with dislike and forgets all of the things she used to love about him. Also, with Lydia and
Wickham, she is completely distraught when they run off together, lying for weeks in her bed, complaining that Lydia has broken her heart, but the moment she is informed that they will be properly married she immediately Jumps up and celebrates and begins showering them with affection and gifts. This serves to characterize her, really making the impression that all she really cares about is getting her daughters married, no matter what it takes, and it really establishes her as a one-dimensional character. . Compare/contrast how women and men view the institution of mmarriage in the novel. Men, at least those who are financially stable, want to be married simply as a desire to have a wife, to complete his life and status. However, for women, mmarriage is very important, especially when their age is “ prime. ” Men have more leisure, they can afford to delay mmarriage until they are older, but women don’t have that luxury because, in Austen’s time, a woman’s beauty is an important part of the package.
Women, especially those without a lot of money to their name, need a husband for financial support. Also, some men who lack money, such as Mr. Wickham, also look for financial support in mmarriage through a wife’s dowry. . What commentary does Austen make on the institution of mmarriage? Austen seems to be expressing that a person should enter into a mmarriage that will give them happiness, whether it be through love or through stability, and not through materialistic or shallow reasons, or to settle for what others think will make you happy. . Find two examples of social criticism in the novel and explain Austen’s stance on these issues. One matter ot social criticism that Austen addresses is the idea ot the tamer’s estate being entailed to his closest male relative if he has no sons, instead of it being assed to his daughters. I think she is expressing her disagreement with this practice based on nearly every character’s criticism on the situation, not one seems to agree with it or be happy about it, not even the person who stands to receive it.
Another is that she seems to express that a person’s position in social class shouldn’t be the most important thing, and people should look past it to know the real person. One example is through the pride of Darcy, initially believing that Elizabeth was beneath him and not important, but he comes to realize that he is wrong, and the pposite with Lady Catherine, that even though she is greatly important, she is not exactly a good or kind person. 6. What do you consider to be the central conflict in the novel?
Who is the protagonist? Who/what is the antagonist? Explain. The central conflict could be, as a general idea, the pursuit of mmarriage and the obstacles that so many different people must overcome to gain and be satisfied with it. Austen examines this closely through Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship, using Elizabeth as the protagonist to provide a closer perspective on what they experience vercoming not only society, but their own personal obstacles of pride and prejudice, and faulty assumptions.
The antagonist could be the expectations of society and other people who get in the way of their pursuit and fuel their pride and prejudice with their own opinions, creating conflict for various couples tthroughout. 7. Read the biographical information provided in our text (257-269). How is Austen’s background significant in her writing (using Pride and Prejudice as representing “ her writing”)? 8. Pride and Prejudice is considered by some scholars to be a “ comedy of manners. ” Define this term and explain how this novel could be considered to be such a work.
It can be considered a comedy of manners because it focuses very closely on how people were expected to behave in relation to their gender, status/class, and societal norms. There are many preconceived ways people are expected to behave for a vvariety of situations, but some of the characters in this novel rebel against these expectations, even against their own Judgment and expectations in the case of Darcy, creating tension tthroughout. 9. What might be the central idea/theme of this novel? (Think in terms of the central onflict. Explain how this idea is “ central” to the narrative. I think the central idea expressed in this novel is to find happiness in mmarriage, but happiness based on one’s individual idea ot what will provide it This is expressed in different ways through different characters. For Elizabeth, she does not want to settle and wants to find someone who will truly make her happy, and she refuses to marry based on other’s ideas and pressure. Alternatively, Charlotte decides to marry not for love, but for the stability that a mmarriage to Mr.
Collins will provide, stability which he maintains will bring her happiness, despite Elizabeth’s opposing opinion, which Charlotte might usually would take into consideration as her best friend. 10. Find two or more quotes from the novel that indicate this central idea. Elizabeth: “ l am not one of those young ladies who are so daring to risk their happiness… ‘ am perfectly serious in my refusal. You [Mr. Collins] could not make me happy” (100). Charlotte: “ l ask only a comfortable home… ‘ am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people” (114). 1 1 . What would you list as the strengths of this novel?
The diversity of character personalities, and the character’s real ability to change and grow without losing believability. They are very realistic in their manners, reactions, and dialogue and so are very relatable. 12. What would you list as the weaknesses of this novel? The perspective is limited to a narrow view of social classes. We only see that of the high class and the high-middle class, but no lower classes are represented by any characters. If there had been a greater distinction between the classes of two people in love, it would have created sthronger tension and conflict.