ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
1. Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film -- No suggested answers.
QUESTIONS RELATING TO MORE THAN ONE THEME
2. There are four young couples featured in this story. Describe how the experiences of three of these couples relate to the story's major themes. Suggested Response: Elizabeth/Darcy: themes: (i) their own pride and prejudices almost cost them their relationship (Darcy's pride being in his social position and his prejudice against those in an inferior social position; Elizabeth's pride in herself which Darcy hurt by discounting her the first time they met; and Elizabeth's prejudice against Darcy based on that slight, Wickham's false charges against him, and Darcy's actions in separating Bingley from Jane); (ii) first impressions may be misleading and people change so that first impressions are sometimes out of date; (iii) they had to overcome the meddling by Darcy's relatives (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) to keep them apart; (iv) marriage should be based on love; (v) a critique of the class system of England at the time; (vi) the dependence of women on men for financial security; (vii) the importance of reputation for women seeking a good marriage; Jane/Bingely: (i) marriage should be based on love; (ii) they had to overcome the meddling by Bingely's "friends" (including Darcy) and relatives (Bingley's sisters) to keep them apart; (iii) the dependence of women on men for financial security; (iv) the importance of reputation for women seeking a good marriage; Charlotte/Mr. Collins: (i) the dependence of women on men for financial security; (ii) the evils of not marrying for love (how some women will accept an obnoxious man just for financial security); (iii) a critique of the class system of England at the time. Note that the Lydia/Wickham couple doesn't really relate to the themes identified by TWM.
The following two questions are designed to be asked in sequence.
3. Describe the themes of this story which relate to the society in which the story is set. Suggested Response: Here are three: (1) a critique of the class systems in England at the time (the class and social structure of England in the early 1800s was based on birth and connections to the aristocracy; it had nothing to do with merit); (2) the dependence of women on men for financial security (the only way for upper class and middle class women to make their way in the world was through a good marriage; they were denied other avenues for advancement); (3) wealth and social position were all too often factors in choosing a mate; matrimonial decisions should be made based on love and respect.
4. Describe the themes of this story which relate to interpersonal relationships. (Some themes relate to both the broader society and personal relationships. Do not include any themes that you discussed in your answer to the preceding question.) Suggested Response: They include: (1) pride and prejudice must be overcome to have true and meaningful relationships with people; (2) first impressions may be misleading, and people change so that first impressions are sometimes out of date; (3) the Bennets made many mistakes in child rearing (child rearing should be even handed among children and not solely focused on getting daughters married to the first gentleman who comes along and asks); (4) meddling in the romantic affairs of friends and relatives often leads to trouble; and (5) the benefits of a strong relationship among sisters.
5. Assume that after Mr. Collins proposed to Charlotte, but before she had accepted, she had discussed her plans with Elizabeth. What points would Charlotte have made in support of marrying Mr. Collins and what points would Elizabeth have made opposing such a marriage? Suggested Response: The key point is that given the society she lived in and her condition in life, there was a lot of justification for Charlotte's decision to marry Mr. Collins. She was older than Elizabeth and very near spinsterhood. She did not stand to inherit much money from her family. As unpleasant as Mr. Collins may be, she had no prospects of finding anyone better. Elizabeth would respond that a life of spinsterhood would be better than one as the wife of a man she didn't love, particularly Mr. Collins. [One of the great strengths of this story is that very little is black and white. While Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins was disappointing to Elizabeth and something that she could not have handled, for Charlotte there were a lot to commend a marriage to Mr. Collins.]
6. Mr. Collins' letter to Mr. Bennet contains the following statement: "I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters and beg leave to apologize for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends ..." What did Mr. Collins have in mind? What was ironic about the statement? What relationship does this irony have to at least two themes of the story? Suggested Response: Mr. Collins has in mind to marry one of the Bennet girls. He believed that he would be doing them a favor because: (a) he had a steady income from his parish and the likely prospect of owning the Bennet estate when Mr. Bennet died and (b) because of his association with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he thought that he had a better social status than the Bennets. Since Mr. Collins sees marriage as an arrangement of property and social status in which young girls will jump at anything to marry someone with a secure income, good prospects, and better social status, he believes that he is doing the Bennets a favor. In fact, Mr. Collins is an unpleasant man who has nothing to offer but his income and whatever social status he has. He knows that there are others more handsome and witty, but he thinks that what he has to offer will overcome those deficiencies. Ironically, Elizabeth, the narrator, and the audience come to the opposite conclusion. The themes of the story that this irony refers to include: (1) the powerful role that money and social status played in the traditional view of marriage, while marriage should be pursued for love; (2) the financial dependence of women on men and the society's refusal to allow them other means to support themselves; (3) the ridiculous nature of the social status system in place in England at the time in which birth, wealth and marriage conferred social status.
7. Elizabeth Bennet had many things to overcome before she found the man she wanted to marry. Some of these were internal and some external. Name four of them. Suggested Response: (1) her wounded pride; (2) her prejudice against Darcy based on her incorrect knowledge; (3) a tendency to jump to first impressions and hold onto them even when it appeared that Mr. Darcy had changed; (4) a hopeless mother; (5) an ineffective and distant father; (6) two badly behaved younger siblings in a world that held such actions against the entire family; (7) several snobbish and scheming females arrayed against her (Miss de Bourgh, Bingley's sisters). Also, Elizabeth didn't play the piano all that well, and she had no prospects to inherit money.
THE DANGERS OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
8. Many have said that the "pride" in the title of this work refers to Darcy and that the "prejudice" refers to Elizabeth. The truth is somewhat different. What is it? Suggested Response: Elizabeth and Darcy each suffer from both pride and prejudice. Darcy's pride in his social standing causes him to look down on Elizabeth. This false pride is based on his prejudice against those with lower social standing than he enjoys. He pre-judges Elizabeth before he knows her at all based on her social standing. As for Elizabeth, her pride was hurt when Darcy made disparaging remarks about her, and this led her to pre-judge him, i.e. to come to a conclusion about him without knowing enough facts to justify that conclusion.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS CAN BE MISLEADING AND PEOPLE CAN CHANGE MAKING FIRST IMPRESSIONS OBSOLETE
9. List four things that influence a person's first impression of another person. Which are valid and which are not? Suggested Response: There are many possibilities: clothing, physical appearance, manner of speech, accent, knowledge of slang, cleanliness, the way that the person moves, race, creed, national origin, sexual preference, etc.
10. What was Elizabeth's first impression of Darcy? Was it justified? Suggested Response: Her first impression was that he was a snob. It was justified. He was acting like a snob. However, he changed later on, rendering her first impressions incorrect.
11. What was Darcy's first impression of Elizabeth? Was it justified? Suggested Response: That she had a lower social standing than he and was not pretty enough to tempt him. This impression as to her social standing was correct, but Darcy suffered from the fact that it took him too long to realize that Elizabeth was pretty and smart and had "bewitched" him. In addition, she had become alienated from him because of his pride and prejudice, Wickham's false stories, and Darcy's meddling against the marriage of Jane/Bingley.
12. Like Darcy, Elizabeth made an error in her early evaluations. What was it? Suggested Response: Elizabeth's evaluation of Darcy as a snob at the very begriming of the story was accurate. However, her belief in Wickham's story about Darcy, based only on her instinctive like of Mr. Wickham and the fact that no one would tell her any actual facts contradicting it, turned out to be incorrect. Later, in the crucible of his love for Elizabeth, Darcy realizes the error of his snobbishness.
13. Have you ever had a first impression of someone that you later found out to be incorrect? What happened? Does it relate at all to the themes of this story? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question.
14. Do you agree that first impressions are not to be trusted, or do you rely upon your immediate, intuitive response to people? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response to this question. A good response should evaluate the role of prejudice in making first impressions.
MARRIAGE SHOULD BE FOR LOVE; NOT WEALTH OR SOCIAL STATUS
15. Mr. Collins thought that there were several reasons why Elizabeth should look favorably on his proposal of marriage. What were they? Suggested Response: Collins told her in his proposal: "It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy of your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life, my connections with the family of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favour, and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion [of the small inheritance from her mother] is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications." Vol. I, Chapter XIX
16. Charlotte Lucas says, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." What does
this statement reveal about her? Do you agree with her statement? Explain. Suggested Response: It shows that she does not believe that people should marry for love. She is at this point in her life getting near to spinsterhood and desperate for a husband. She has no independent fortune because her father's property will go to her brother.
17. There are three examples of marriages that are shown in this story to be problematic. What are they and what are their problems? Suggested Response: (1) The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet: There is apparently no expression of love and Mr. Bennet has no respect for his wife. Mrs. Bennet is too silly to make a real attachment to a man. The Bennets do not coordinate their positions in advance and they freely contradict each other, undercut each other, and criticize each other in front of the children. (2) the marriage of Lydia and Wickham: Loveless on his part and immature on hers. (3) The marriage of Collins to Charlotte Lucas: based on considerations of financial security and comfort; loveless on both sides (Mr. Collins clearly loves his wife in a way that he would love any woman who showed him the least amount of affection and respect, however, it is an imaginary connection that might not stand the test of crisis).
18. What is the role of the Gardiners in this story? (Mr. Gardiner, who lives in London, is the brother of Mrs. Bennet. He serves as the front for Mr. Darcy's efforts to help Lydia.) Suggested Response: They demonstrate a reasonably functional marriage, although this is not well developed. As a plot device, they are the means by which Darcy tries to help Lydia (and Elizabeth) by making Wickham marry Lydia.
A CRITIQUE OF THE CLASS SYSTEM IN ENGLAND
19. What is the role of money and property in this story? Suggested Response: It is a corrupting and limiting influence. It corrupts because women are under pressure to marry for financial security (Charlotte). It is limiting because women have no way to obtain it except through inheritance or marriage.
The following four questions are designed to be asked in sequence:
20. What is entail and what is its role in this story? Suggested Response: Entail is a restriction on the ownership of property that limits future ownership of the property to a special class of heirs, such as male relatives. Thus, in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet had received his estate subject to entail in favor of a male heir. Since he had no sons, he was unable to transfer his house and land to his wife or to his daughters. When Mr. Bennet died, the estate would go to his eldest male relative, Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins had no obligation to support Mr. Bennet's wife and daughters. This sets up the situation in which the Bennet daughters, who had a relatively privileged upbringing, would be relegated to the working classes unless they could marry a man of wealth.
21. What is primogeniture and how does it relate to entail? What effect do they have on society? Suggested Response: Primogeniture is the preference for property passing to the oldest male heir. Entail was one of the ways to secure primogeniture. They were used in England to ensure that there were a few men who had great wealth. This assured a strong aristocracy to support the crown.
22. What did Thomas Jefferson and the American Revolutionaries think of primogeniture and entail? Suggested Response: These forms of inheritance were abolished in the democratic and revolutionary United States. Thomas Jefferson in particular campaigned against both entail and primogeniture. He convinced the Virginia House of Burgesses to outlaw them. His goal was to split up large estates so that more men would be landowners and able to vote. (Only landowners could vote at that time.) Jefferson, despite his own privileged and aristocratic life-style, believed that society would be better off if there were less disparity between rich and poor, and if large concentrations of wealth were broken up.
23. If the story of Pride and Prejudice had taken place in the U.S. of the early 1800s, how would it have been different? Suggested Response: The class divisions would have been much less powerful, and the Bennet girls could look forward to inheriting their father's estate because primogeniture and entail had been outlawed in most of the U.S. The property would most likely have passed to Mrs. Bennet, if she had outlived her husband, and then it would have been divided evenly between the five girls, unless Mrs. Bennet had, by will, given the property to someone else or to her daughters in different percentages. For example, if her older daughters married into very wealthy families, Mrs. Bennet could have left the estate to the three younger daughters. While each girl would have received only a portion of the estate, they would not have had to face a life of penury if they were unable to marry well. The facts that drive this story arise from a class based society in which entail and primogeniture applied to the inheritance of property. Pride and Prejudice could not have been written for the United States.
24. Rank the following characters in the film in order of their class standing in the English society of the day and explain your rankings. Note that Mr. Bingley's father got his wealth in the trades, and Charlotte Lucas' father also made his money in trade, but he was knighted by the Queen when he served as mayor of the town. Rank the following: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Sir William Lucas, Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Wickham. Suggested Response: (1) Mr. Darcy because he comes from nobility and is rich, although he has no title; [From this point on, the exact order is not as important as showing an understanding of the components.] (2) Lady Catherine de Bourgh (she has a title, but she is a woman), (3) Mr. Bingley (he is a gentlemen who is very rich but the source of this money is in the trades), (4) Sir William Lucas (he is a knight of moderate fortune; he made his money in the trades), (5) Mr. Bennet (a gentlemen of limited means whose estate is entailed away), (6) Elizabeth Bennet (a gentleman's daughter with no prospect for an inheritance), and (7) Mr. Wickham (he is a scoundrel).
25. It is often said that Austen criticizes the class structure of English life in the early 1800s. However, many people are missing from this critique. Who are they? Suggested Response: Darcy and his relatives and friends are upper class. The Bennets are middle class. What about the workers and the servants? They are completely missing from Austen's critique.
THE DEPENDENCE OF WOMEN ON MEN FOR FINANCIAL SECURITY:
26. Does Wickham's situation show that the society of the time restricted men, as well as women? Was there any other way for Wickham to live than to marry a rich girl whose relatives would pay for the privilege of having Wickham as a son-in-law or to avoid a scandal? Suggested Response: Wickham could have remained in the army and made a career of it, or he could have gone into trade. He had already turned down a position in the clergy with a guaranteed income. Wickham was just a bad guy.
27. What would have happened if Darcy had not been able to buy Wickham off? Suggested Response: Lydia's reputation would have been ruined, and by the custom of the time, the reputation of all of the Bennet girls would have been ruined. Then Darcy would have had to have made a decision of whether his love for Elizabeth was worth marrying a woman with a ruined reputation.
28. In the society portrayed in this story, what is the future for unmarried women without wealth of their own? Suggested Response: Nothing good; spinsterhood, perhaps serving as a governess to a rich family.
MEDDLING IN THE ROMANTIC AFFAIRS OF FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OFTEN LEADS TO TROUBLE
29. Two people in this story marry for money. Who are they and how are they portrayed? Suggested Response: They are Wickham, portrayed as a bad apple, and Charlotte Lucas Collins, portrayed as sad and desperate. These characters play an important role in Austen's critique of the economically motivated marriage of the day and the limits placed on the ability of women to advance themselves in business and society by any means other than marriage.
THE POOR PARENTING TECHNIQUES OF MR. AND MRS. BENNET
30. Evaluate the parenting techniques of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Give specific examples of poor and good parenting shown in the story. Suggested Response: Examples of poor parenting techniques: (1) They have favorites. Mr. Bennet is partial to Elizabeth and somewhat to Jane. He tells the other girls that they are the silliest girls in England. Mrs. Bennet is partial to Lydia and lets her do anything she wants. (2) They allow one child (Lydia) to take the things of other children (Mary and Kitty). (3) They do not enforce sufficient discipline of the younger girls. (4) They are not respectful of each other in front of their children. (5) They do not discuss parenting decisions together and come up with a common position. Instead they each take positions in front of the children. These positions often contradict each other. (6) They allow Lydia to go to Brighton without adequate supervision. (7) Mrs. Bennet sends Jane to Netherfield on horseback instead of in the carriage in the hope that Jane will get a cold and have to stay at Netherfield a few more days. Examples of good parenting by Mr. and Mrs. Bennet: (1) They love all their children (just some more than others). (2) Mr. Bennet is gentle and diplomatic when he asks Mary to stop playing the piano.
QUESTIONS FOCUSING ON CHARACTERS IN PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
31. Why is Elizabeth such a popular character? Suggested Response: She is lovely, clever, articulate, honest, virtuous and witty. However, she is not perfect. Her tendency to make hasty judgments and her sharp tongue get her into trouble and give her something to strive against. There were few characters as well drawn and as admirable in English literature, except for women in Shakespeare's plays.
32. There was something really positive and caring toward the Bennet family that Mr. Collins showed by seeking a wife among the Bennet daughters. What was it? Suggested Response: By marrying into the Bennet family, Mr. Collins would have taken the responsibility of supporting the mother and all of the sisters after Mr. Bennet died. What was he going to do, kick the mother out of the house? Allow his sister-in-laws to be homeless? Mr. Collins never displayed any characteristics that would lead one to believe he would do that.
33. Mrs. Bennet describes Elizabeth as headstrong when Elizabeth refuses to accept Mr. Collins' marriage proposal. Present the arguments supporting Mrs. Bennet's position. Suggested Response: Mr. Collins offered a comfortable living and adequate social status. He offered security for the entire family because Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth's sisters could have stayed at Longborn all of their lives. Elizabeth was at great risk of sinking into poverty if she did not find a husband with financial means.
34. What are the most important differences between Elizabeth and Jane? How do they relate to the difference between Bingley and Darcy? Suggested Response: Elizabeth was quicker of wit and quick to judge and criticize. Jane looked for the best in people, and it was difficult for her to think ill of anyone. She didn't seem to have the sparkling and incisive wit of Elizabeth. Darcy was quick to criticize and judge people. Bingley, like Jane, looked at the best of any person or situation and focused on that.
35. Reflecting on the good fortune of herself and her sister Jane, Elizabeth says (in the novel): "I am the happiest creature in the world. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh." What does this tell you about the differences between Elizabeth and Jane? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. The answer is subtle and requires interpretation. A good answer would mention Elizabeth's great imagination, quick wit, and greater capacity to see the humor and irony in life. A good answer would mention that Elizabeth, more than Jane, had fought and argued her way to loving her future husband, with so many chances for the whole thing to have been spoiled, while Jane's way to love was more serene, marred only by the period of separation. Jane had to do less thinking about it than Elizabeth.
36. Which character in this story grew the most? Suggested Response: It was clearly Darcy because he gave up his pride in his social position and embraced a family of lower social rank, which included silly embarrassing family members. He learned that social position was not a good predictor of virtue. Elizabeth also changed, but her changes did not relate to her basic world view and outlook. She learned that her opinions of one man were wrong and, perhaps, she became more cautious about making judgments about people. Darcy's prejudice was against all those of lesser social position whereas Elizabeth's was directed to one man and was based on his personal traits.
37. Compare Wickham and Bingley. They are alike in some ways, and they are different in others. Suggested Response: They are both pleasing men with good looks and elegant manners. As to wealth, Wickham is poor and Bingley rich. As to ethics, Wickham is a cad and Bingley appears to be a gentleman. Perhaps it is just that Bingley has never been tested.
38. What conflict did Darcy have to resolve before he could allow himself to pursue a relationship with Elizabeth? Suggested Response: The conflict was between his feelings of superiority and his allegiance to his class versus the qualities that he admired in a woman. Put another way: Darcy's concept of the perfect woman was, for him, unattainable. He wanted a woman of his class, wealth, and social standing who had the qualities of character that Elizabeth had. Such a woman did not exist, and Darcy came to realize that class, wealth and social standing were less important to him than qualities of character.
39. The character of Mr. Collins has many purposes in this story, some relating to theme and some relating to plot. Describe at least two of them. Suggested Response: (1) Mr. Collins is presented as a man who would have very little to offer in a social and economic system based on merit. (2) He demonstrates, quite graphically, the financial inequality between men and women at the time. (3) As the undeserving beneficiary of entailment, he demonstrates the unfairness of that system. (4) As a ridiculous sycophant, he shows the stupidity of the class system based on accident of birth. (5) He provides a contrast to Mr. Wickham, who could have had all that Collins has and who would have been much better at being a preacher, if he had the character to earn a decent living. (6) Mr. Collins provides humor, he is the butt of many amusing situations. (7) Mr. Collins is the means to bring Lady Catherine into the story.
40. Name two good things about the character of Mr. Collins. There are actually four (some of them are a stretch, but they work). Suggested Response: The four possibilities are: (1) Recognizing the injury that the entailing of Longborn caused the Bennets, he looks first to the Bennet daughters for a wife (note that in his mind he is a most eligible bachelor with much to recommend him). (2) He appears to be an honest man who works at his profession (contrast this to Wickham who tries to get ahead by seducing young girls). (3) He allows Charlotte Lucas the space that she needs to put up with him. (4) He seeks to mend the rift between his family (more precisely his father) and Mr. Bennet.
41. Is Mr. Collins really concerned about the fact that his benefit from the entail of Mr. Bennet's estate should hurt the Bennet sisters, or is he pretending to be concerned for the sake of show? Suggested Response: There is no one answer to this question. He does state that this is his intention. But then when Elizabeth refuses him, he falls immediately for Charlotte Lucas. But this could have been caused by his wounded pride, and the fact that no one else would have him.
42. Name two characters in the story with no positive traits. Suggested Response: There are four characters for whom nothing positive can be said: Wickham, the Bingley sisters, and Lady Catherine. Except for Wickham, whose character is fleshed out in detail, these people are just props for the story.
43. This question relates to the 1995 BBC version of the movie: What would the film have been like had the screenwriter remained true to the novel in the portrayal of the male characters? Do you think it is right for filmmakers to substantially modify Austen's text and message to make the story palatable to modern audiences? Suggested Response: See
Differences Between Male Characters in Austen's Novels and in the Movies for a description of the differences. There is no one correct answer to this question.
44. What does Elizabeth's response to Mr. Collins' proposal tell us about her character? Suggested Response: She wants to marry only for love even if it puts her financial security in jeopardy. Not only is she unwilling to marry to help her own financial situation, she is not willing to marry to aid the financial situation of her family. By marrying Mr. Collins, Elizabeth would have secured the use of Longborn for her mother and sisters after her father's death. There is some selfishness to Elizabeth's character. She was unwilling to sacrifice her life for the sake of financial security for her sisters.
45. What does Elizabeth's response to the proposal of Mr. Collins and to Mr. Darcy's first proposal tell us about her character? Suggested Response: She is not willing to sacrifice her happiness and sense of self-worth for material positions and financial security. She is not intimidated by men or persons in authority.
46. What are the differences in character between Jane and Elizabeth? Suggested Response: Jane looks for the best in any situation or person and is very reluctant to come to a critical opinion of anyone. Elizabeth jumps to conclusions based on her keen intelligence and is not averse to seeing people or situations in a very bad light. She is quick to criticize and condemn.
47. What is the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in developing the themes of this story? Suggested Response: [Note, this question applies only to the novel and the 1995 and 2005 film versions. Ms. de Bourgh's role was changed in the 1940 film version.] Lady Catherine de Bourgh is the voice of the societal prejudices and snobbishness that dominated Darcy at the beginning of the film. She is shown to be ridiculous.
48. Elizabeth says, "There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me." Give two examples. Suggested Response: We can think of several: (1) rejecting Mr. Collins' proposal; (2) turning a deaf ear to her mother's demand that she accept Mr. Collins' proposal; (3) attacking Darcy in response to his first proposal; (4) dismissing Lady Catherine's demand that she promise not to marry Darcy.
49. What is the role of Mr. Wickham in explicating the themes of the story? Suggested Response: He is the charming villain and shows how Elizabeth's first impressions can again deceive her.
PLOT, IRONY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES
50. What is the role of Mr. Wickham in advancing the main plot of the Elizabeth/Darcy romance? Suggested Response: The answer can be put in three ways: (1) Mr. Wickham's seduction of Lydia and Darcy's response is a major reason why Elizabeth comes to understand Darcy's true character and comes to love him. (2) Mr. Wickham's seduction of Lydia provides the situation in which Darcy (unintentionally, for he wanted it to be a secret) proves himself to Elizabeth as a worthy person. (3) Mr. Wickham is a main motivator in the Lydia/Wickham romance subplot which is one of the ways in which the Elizabeth and Darcy get together.
51. What is the climax of the action in this novel? Suggested Response: Elizabeth's acceptance of Darcy's second proposal.
52. Describe the main plot and the subplots in this story. Suggested Response: The main plot is the course of the romance of Darcy and Elizabeth and the obstacles, self-imposed and imposed by others, that they had to overcome before they found each other. The subplots are: (1) the Bingley/Jane romance; (2) the Collins/Charlotte marriage; (3) the Wickham/Lydia seduction and marriage; (4) the conflict between Darcy and Wickham; (5) the Elizabeth/Collins relationship and (6) the Elizabeth/Wickham relationship.
53. There are many examples of irony or ironic statements in this story. Name them and, for each, tell us how they relate to themes of the story. Suggested Response: See Examples of Irony
54. In terms of the family relationships at the end of the story, what is the most ironic? Suggested Response: That Darcy would become the brother-in-law of Wickham. Another acceptable answer is that Darcy would become the son-in-law of Mrs. Bennet.
QUESTIONS ON OTHER TOPICS
55. Opening lines of books are important to tell us what the book is about. The opening line of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous in English literature. It is: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." What does this opening sentence tell us about the issues that will be treated in the story and what does it presage about how those issues will be treated? Suggested Response: It tells us that the story will be about money, romance and marriage. The line is ironic because, in reality, it is single women without money who are in need of husbands. The lightly humorous irony gives the reader a preview of how the story will deal with these subjects.
56. Jane Austen's novels continue to be read almost 200 years after they were written. The stories have been repeatedly made into movies. Describe why this is true. Discuss at least theme and plot. Suggested Response: Many of the themes are based on astute observations of human character during one of the major passages of human life, choosing a mate. Lovers overcoming obstacles is one of the basic stories of that passage. Another reason is that they are true to life. For example, the heroine, Elizabeth, is not perfect. There are things she can learn from Jane and she makes mistakes in her evaluation of Darcy. A fourth reason is that the novels recognize that many issues in life have several sides and there is no one solution that is right for everyone. An example is the treatment of Charlotte Lucas. She marries Mr. Collins for financial security, an action which one of the main themes of the story criticizes. However, Charlotte's actions are understandable and may be the best solution for her due to the restrictions imposed on her by English society of the 1800s as a woman without a separate fortune.
57. Darcy and Elizabeth, by exposing Wickham, could have prevented him from seducing Lydia. Do they bear any responsibility for what happened to Lydia because they kept quiet? Were they wrong in failing to expose Wickham? Suggested Response: The answer is that they do bear responsibility. Whether they were right or wrong to do what they did is less clear. Good answers will deal with Georgiana's interest in keeping the matter secret. Common knowledge of the affair would have destroyed her reputation and made her somewhat less eligible for a good match (although many a man would have been tempted by her fortune). A good answer will also discuss the responsibility of Darcy and Elizabeth to unknown others to protect them from Wickham. (In this case it turned out to be Lydia who was seduced by Wickham, but when Darcy and Elizabeth made their decision to keep Wickham's conduct secret they didn't know that Wickham would strike so close to home. But if it would not have been Lydia, it would have been someone else. Fortunately for Miss King, someone in her family saw the danger and whisked her away.) A good answer to the question will balance the two obligations.
58. Describe some social conventions that exist today. They may be spoken or unspoken. Suggested Response: There is no one correct response to this question. To get the ball rolling, adults can suggest: people should not start to eat before the hostess is seated; men and women shake hands when they are first introduced; men can take off their shirts at the beach but women should have something covering their breasts; people should cover their mouths when they sneeze; people should not burp out loud (in some cultures burping at a meal is considered a compliment to the hostess).
59. Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth, "Are any of your younger sisters out?" What does she mean by this? Suggested Response: Young girls were kept at home. They "came out" when they were allowed to go to parties and were made available on the marriage market.
60. On one occasion, Elizabeth was at home by herself when, "to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room ...." What rule of etiquette did these two violate when they proceeded to have a discussion and Mr. Darcy didn't immediately leave? Suggested Response: Unrelated men and women were not to be left alone in the same room.
61. Pride and Prejudice has often been criticized for the fact that it appears unconcerned with the politics of Austen's day. Is this charge fair? Suggested Response: This is a valid criticism but does not justify ignoring a work which deals with basic questions of human life. Jane Austin wrote about what she knew.
62. Name two differences between accepted social behavior shown in the film and modern social behavior. Suggested Response: Modern courtship practices change, but, for example, couples no longer bow or curtsey when they meet. Couples can be alone together. People can introduce themselves to other people without the necessity of an introduction from someone else.
Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:
See the discussion questions under MARRIAGE SHOULD BE FOR LOVE; NOT WEALTH OR SOCIAL STATUS
1. When Darcy proposed to Elizabeth the first time, he told her of his pride and "His sense of her inferiority -- of its being a degradation -- of the family. Obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination ...." What was he talking about? Suggested Response: Darcy felt that his family had a higher class status than Elizabeth's and that it would diminish that status if he married her.
2. In a society in which there are different social classes and the members of one class consider themselves to be "superior" to the other classes, can there be a true romantic relationship between a member of the "superior" class and a member of an "inferior" class? (In other words, in Jane Austen's England, can there be a solid romantic relationship between an aristocrat and a member of the middle class?) Suggested Response: Yes, but only if the couple rejects the class distinctions and loves one another for who they are.
3. What will you consider when you chose a life partner? Suggested Response: The first step is an honest evaluation of one's self. Learning from "Pride and Prejudice" you would have to be sure that you are truly in love with your prospective partner. Remember that a long lasting love is much more than a physical attraction. When two people are considering a life-long commitment they must discover what is important to each of them. What are their values and goals? What do they want to accomplish in their life? What do they enjoy doing for fun? Do they want to have children? If so, how many and when? What religious faith or philosophy will they want to pursue and use in raising the children? Do they understand that the marriage itself is an entity which requires work, commitment, and compromise and that no longer will each of the partners be individuals but part of the duality that is a strong marriage? We could go on for a long time. People have written books about this. But it is a start.
4. On several occasions Darcy cannot talk easily to Elizabeth. Why is that? Suggested Response: He is too emotional and retreats into silence.
5. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement by Charlotte Lucas? "If a woman conceals her affection [for a man] ... she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely -- a slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better shew more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on." Suggested Response: There is no one right answer to this question.
6. Describe the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and compare it to the marriage that Darcy and Elizabeth expect to have. Suggested Response: Here are a few: Mr. Bennet does not respect his wife. Mrs. Bennet appears too concerned with marrying off her daughters to pay any affectionate attention to her husband.
Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)
1. Can members of different social classes, one considered "inferior" to the other, truly respect each other? Defend your answer. Suggested Response: The answer to this question is that in determining the value of a person you must look at the individual and answer the following question: How has this individual faced the circumstances (the opportunities and disappointments) in his or her life? Does he or she show courage, initiative, honesty, compassion, responsibility, caring, etc.?
Last updated April 4, 2008.
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