This was due for discussion yesterday, but I got wrapped up in Easter activities. I hope you’ll accept my apologies for my tardiness. We’ll still have plenty of time to discuss the novel throughout April. Here’s a stab at some areas to consider from Volume I, to page 89:
1. What does the opening line set us up for?
The opening line of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous in literature. In fact, you could read the first two sentences and get a pretty fair idea of what the entire book’s about. So, what does the opening sentence set us up for? Marriage, obviously, will play a major role. p. 3.
2. How long does it take to truly know someone?
The discussion on p. 5 near the end of the page relates to how long you must be acquainted with someone before you really know anything about them. A fortnight is mentioned. Do you think you can truly know someone in 2 weeks?
3. Is a daughter’s marriage a valid goal for a parent?
Who doesn’t want their daughter to marry well? But what does Mrs. Bennet mean when she says she wants her daughters to marry well? Is marrying well related to happiness or wealth? Is Mrs. Bennet well-intentioned with her wish? Do you find her wish for her daughters endearing or do you find that her wish limits her daughters? Would a similar wish in our society be tolerated? p. 7.
4. What is pride?
The first discussion of pride takes place on p. 14. How do you define pride? Is pride a bad thing? Does your definition of pride differ from Mary’s?
5. How is one’s social status defined in the novel?
For certain characters, having an occupation other than that of estate Lord is viewed as a negative in terms of one’s social status. Look for other ways the characters determine social status. Wealth? Occupation? Marriage? p. 25.
6. Are first impressions ever fair?
First impressions and one’s judgment of people play an important role in the novel. One view is that first impressions are rarely fair because people change so much over time. p. 30. Another view is that first impressions are an important part of the social “game.” Can you understand someone the first time you meet them? Is it a fault to establish a first impression of someone and then rigidly adhere to it? Do you find yourself making early impressions of people and then refusing to move away from that initial impression despite evidence to the contrary? Is that a kind of prejudice? See also p. 64.
7. Is it fair to feign interest in a particular activity so as to make yourself more appealing to the opposite sex?
On p. 37 we see Miss Bingley reading, but more than reading, she’s watching Mr. Darcy read. It seems she is pretending to enjoy the activity so as to make herself more attractive to Mr. Darcy. Is that a fair way to behave? Is there any danger in acting that way? On one hand it’s endearing to care enough about someone to want to please them by engaging in activities they enjoy. On the other, I worry whether Miss Bingley is prepared to keep that up for the rest of her life. p. 37. What’s the danger in acting like someone you’re not to obtain a marriage proposal?
8. Are there certain types of pride that are more acceptable than others?
On p. 57 certain types of pride are defined. We’ve already considered whether pride is a bad thing, but do you think there are certain types of pride that are more acceptable than others? What is the most endearing form of pride you can imagine?
9. What are the “right” reasons to marry?
Reading Pride and Prejudice has us consider what the proper or “right” motivation is when it comes to marriage. Cultural differences explain why certain societies might prefer one motivation over another. Do you believe there is a universally “right” motivation to marry? p. 72. What is the goal of the institution of marriage?
10. What does the entail stand for?
The entail is defined on p. 19. What is it? What does it stand for the novel?
For next time: Let’s read to p. 158, the end of Volume II.
If you care to share, I’d love to hear what you found interesting about Volume I.