Slow-Read Sunday: Pride and Prejudice, Volume III (to Ch. X)

Previously, we discussed Volume I and Volume II of Pride and Prejudice.

When we left Elizabeth she was heading to Pemberley with the expectation that Darcy would not be present at his estate. Here are some points to ponder as you read the first part of Volume III:

1. Does Elizabeth’s opinion of Darcy shift after her visit to Pemberley? Why?

Elizabeth visits Pemberley and immediately engages in a bit of daydreaming where she imagines herself as the mistress of Pemberley. p. 159. What is the turning point in Elizabeth’s opinion shift on Darcy? Is it this visit to Pemberley or did it start even before this visit?

2. Does Elizabeth’s opinion shift when she hears the kind words Darcy’s servants offer on his behalf? p. 161.

3. Elizabeth and Darcy’s story is interrupted by Lydia’s engagement to Wickham. Is Lydia to blame for her behavior? Does Elizabeth bear any responsibility for not sharing what she knew about Wickham?

4. Is the loss of female virtue “irretrievable?” p. 187.

Some rather harsh conclusions are drawn about Lydia’s honor after she flees with Wickham. Remember Lydia is just 16 years old. Is it fair to hold any 16 year hold to a permanent fate for making a poor decision? Is Lydia to blame?

5. Wickham is the ultimate proof of the danger of first impressions believed too strongly.

When Wickham first came on to the scene he was charming, handsome, and nearly won Elizabeth’s heart. Impressions of Wickham change by  p. 191 where he is generally viewed as “the wickedest young man in the world.” Can you see the danger in buying too heavily into a first impression of anyone? How could Lydia have safeguarded herself from Wickham’s wicked nature?

6. What role does Darcy play in Lydia’s marriage to Wickham?

For next time, let’s finish the novel. As you read the last part of the novel try to think about whether Austen’s Pride and Prejudice should be taken at face value or whether there is an underlying satirical tone. If you haven’t read the novel before, try to guess how it might turn out between Darcy and Elizabeth and test whether your expectations are met. If you know how the novel ends, try to read it from a different perspective, for example, could you read the novel as social criticism? What is more important to the characters: marriage, or marriage into wealth or class privilege? Can you separate marriage from the financial consequences in the novel or are the two intertwined at every turn?

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