Pride and Prejudice Read Along: Chapters 1-12 Discussion Questions

Next week’s chapters: 13-25

This week has been crazy! I didn’t get to do any posts about my feelings for chapters 1-12, so I thought I’d quickly jot down a few thoughts before the discussion questions. (I’m actually going to post my answers in a separate post, probably tomorrow or Monday.)

I really like Elizabeth and her father. Elizabeth’s mother reminds me too much of Mrs. Norris from Mansfield Park; she’s too nosy and too much of a busy body. I think Jane is fragile and she bugs me a bit. I hate Lydia and Kitty–they’re both so annoying, especially Lydia! And, I don’t really have an opinion on Mary because she’s just really quiet and unlike everyone else.

Mr. Bingley seems kind of foppish. Mr. Bingley’s sisters are annoying and stuck up. Mr. Darcy is way too stuck up and arrogant for his own good, and I don’t see why everyone swoons over him, but I suppose I will as I continue to read the book.

The relationships, even those of husband and wife, seem way formal. And, the way they speak reminds me of an episode of Backyardigans I watched with my great-nieces. Uniqua is reading a book aloud and reads the word, “obstacles.” One of the others asks what it means and she responds, “things that get in the way.” The one who asked what it means then says, “Why didn’t they just say, ‘things that get in the way’?” I have the same question as I read the language in Pride and Prejudice. The language is just so formal and creates the feeling that all the relationships are at arm’s length rather than intimate and I’m not sure I like it. Maybe, it’ll grow on me as I read the book more or even more books from this era.


Discussion Questions: Chapters 1-12

I found these questions here.

  1. In Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen presents an interesting view of 19th century life in England. A key part of her presentation involves humor. Describe the presence of humor in the beginning of the novel. What examples of humor do you find? (e.g. in the dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.) What does this humor suggest about the tone of the novel?
    • Humor? What humor? I’m being a little bit sarcastic with that comment, but at the same time, I’m not. I don’t often get humor unless it smacks me on the head with a 2×4. Humor has to be very blatant for me to get it, especially in a book. It’s only after I’ve read a book several times or seen actors act out a scene in the book that I finally see the humor. So, unfortunately, Austen’s humor has been lost on me.
  2. This novel addresses a variety of themes, including issues involving marriage, financial status, and social appearances. The novel begins with one of the most famous first sentences in all novels. What does this sentence mean? What is the view of marriage that it suggests? In what ways is the conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in chapter one a commentary on this sentence?
    • The first sentence basically tells me that no matter what you do in life, the most important thing you can do is get married. While I somewhat agree with that, I also disagree with that. Marriage is a big deal in my social circles. Heck, it’s a big deal outside my social circles. Look at all the gay marriage issues. People want to get or be able to get married, no matter their circumstance. But, what I think some people forget is that you can be successful without marrying. I know of two particular ladies within my extended social circle that have proven that. So, yes, I agree that one should look for a suitable mate, but one should also live their life for oneself and do the things that would make them happy.
  3. All the major families (e.g. the Bennets, the Bingleys, the Lucas and the Darcys) are introduced with explanation of the fortune they have and the place they live in. What does this suggest about the importance of money and social status in this novel?
    • Social status and money are extremely important in Pride and Prejudice, so much so that people won’t marry each other or even have anything to do with each other if they feel that the other person is beneath them. I think this still goes on to some extent, but maybe not as much as it did. It depends on the social circles you hang out in and also the country you’re from.
  4. What is Elizabeth’s first impression of Darcy? What does she overhear him say? What is her opinion of him after that? Is her opinion based only on appearance or other more substantial criteria? How about Mrs. Bennet’s view of Darcy?
    • Her first impression is that he’s proud and snobbish. She basically overhears him saying that she’s not worthy to dance with. I don’t think her opinion is completely based on appearance; it’s based more on his behavior. And, Mrs. Bennet’s view is similar, but she also thinks he’s not very handsome.
  5. As Elizabeth and Jane stay at Netherfield, what more does Elizabeth learn about Bingley’s sisters? How would you describe the relationship between Miss Bingley and Darcy? Does Elizabeth’s view of Darcy change? Does Darcy’s view of Elizabeth change? By the time that Elizabeth returns to Lonbourn, Darcy has conflicting feelings about Elizabeth. What does he feel? What does he decide to do about it?
    • She learns that Bingley’s sisters are very shallow and snobbish. They also don’t think Jane is a good match for their brother and try to advise him against it. Darcy sees Miss Bingley as his friend’s sister and someone of the same social status, but not really anything more. Miss Bingley fancies him and is jealous that he starts to pay attention to Elizabeth. I think that Elizabeth still sees Darcy as proud and snobbish. She continues to refuse to dance with him. Darcy is intrigued by Elizabeth and is worried that he’ll come to care for her, so he decides to stay away from her because she’s beneath his social status.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m very excited to revisit my love for this book and story and can’t wait to post my thoughts! Very interesting to hear your impressions of the characters. Some I agree with, some I don’t. I agree that Lydia and Kitty are annoying… and Mary is funny because she is a bookish, sickly sister and tries so hard to get a word in now and then about what she thinks and no one cares. I’ve always felt sorry for her a bit.

    The mom and dad relationship makes me grin constantly and I love it.

    Mr. Bingley is a sweet, good-natured, happy going dude which I absolutely adore. He IS too much influenced by certain people, and I wish he had a bit more of a backbone, but still. He is wonderful.

    I’m finding it fun to read again how Mr. Darcy is portrayed in these first chapters. I agree, he seems pretty awful. But that’s because we as readers, need to see him how Elizabeth is seeing him… proud. But at the end of our assigned reading, hopefully you can see already that he is changing. And the pride that we SEEM to see in the beginning through Lizzy’s eyes is not for real.

    • says

      I’m pretty sure my assessment of everyone wasn’t right on since I’ve only had a few chapters with them. And, yeah, I can see that Darcy is changing and that the way Elizabeth sees him is a bit prejudiced. ;) I just still don’t get his swoon worthiness yet. I’m sure I will, though. :D

  2. says

    LOL! I love your reactions to this one. I wonder if they’ll stay the same throughout. I’m doubting it. The language thing is just an era thing and you get in the swing of it eventually. Just you wait. You’ll be telling people to stop being so “daft” instead of stupid like Suey did. hee hee!

    • says

      I guess I need to pay better attention to Mary. Maybe, it’s just the first time through and trying to keep everything straight that I don’t really see her that well.

  3. says

    I am just going to chime in here instead of answering on my own blog, if that’s ok! I am really enjoying re-reading this. I am trying to take my time and pay close attention to the old style of writing and dialogue, and I think I’m getting more out of it this time.

    1. As for the humor: Mr. Bennet’s especially is dry, and he takes advantage of the smaller wit and intelligence of his wife. I feel that he has some affection for her, but mostly an eye-rolling kind of annoyance for her silliness. Austen doesn’t use words like laughed, giggled, grinned, etc. very often. I think a lot of times the characters are joking, but you really have to pay attention and imagine their reactions. It’s easy to think everyone is being so serious all the time, but I think they had just as much fun and teasing going on (at least between sisters and friends) as we do.

    2. The theme of marriage: The idea that a “single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” is silly to me. I don’t think it is “a truth universally acknowledged”, at least in our day and age. But the cast of characters in this book is a very small microcosm of the bigger world, so maybe to these characters, it was just expected that if you were well off, you would want to marry and produce heirs of your estate. I do have sympathy for Mrs. Bennet’s plight–that none of her daughters will inherit Longbourn, so she wants them to marry and be successful that way. For women in this novel’s world, that seems like that was really the only way to be “successful”.

    3.Money and social status? Of utmost importance. See above comment. Everyone spends so much time worrying about respectability and saving face. It’s kind of exhausting, but humorous when it’s Mrs. Bennet flying around like a worried hen. Of course, money and social status are important today too, but in different ways, and maybe not so intensely.

    4. Darcy essentially says that he does not want to dance with a wallflower. If Elizabeth is not being courted by others, she must not be of any great consequence. Plus he insults her looks. I don’t blame her for a bad first impression. Mrs. Bennet pretty much despises him as well, calling him “high and so conceited.”

    5. The stay at Netherfield changes Darcy’s view of Elizabeth more than the other way around. Darcy realizes that he is very much attracted to Elizabeth, but he does not allow himself to know her better, probably because she is beneath him in social status (hence PRIDE). I believe Elizabeth begins to understand and perceive Darcy’s character a little better, but still thinks he is haughty and rude, generally misunderstands him, and hangs on to her bad first impression (hence PREJUDICE).

    As a side note, one of my favorite quotes is form Mary in chapter 5. She sums up a major theme of the book: “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

    • says

      Great insights! As far as your answer to 1, I think I need to pay closer attention. I just so used to reading a book and understanding it right off that I don’t just sit and think. I think I need to that with this book so I really understand it.

      I wish I had read this book in school, though it wasn’t required reading in any of my classes. I think I would’ve got a lot more out of it. Hopefully, these discussion questions will help and seeing others’ insights.

  4. says

    I love reading your initial thoughts towards the characters. I remember thinking the same things about Darcy and stubbornly sure that I wouldn’t be swooned by him…well….I was! I hope you are too. It’s fun because you get to go through the same process that Elizabeth does with falling in love, ’cause at first you hate him. Not just dislike, or he’s annoying…but HATE! It’ll be fun to see what you think as time goes by. Have you seen the movies? I loved that you referenced Backyardagains…that was pretty funny. And at times I agree with you, but it does have a way of growing on you. It just makes it more “work” to read…

    btw I am about to start Fire! YAY!!

    • says

      Yay! I’m so excited that you’re starting Fire. I hope you like it!!!

      I knew you’d like the reference to Backyardigans, lol. And, I’m sure I’ll end up liking/loving Darcy, I just don’t see how yet. ;)

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