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Pride & Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most widely read work and is widely used in schools. It has been retold countless times since it was first published over 200 years ago. It’s never too late to buy this classic book for fun or for a book club, but if you’re not entirely sure where to start, fear not! We’ve put together a roundup, some reading tips, and questions about the Pride & Prejudice Book Club to help you discuss the book!
About the book
Pride & Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, a clever young woman who lived in the English countryside during the Georgian era and whose family is poor but has a good reputation in society. When nearby Netherfield Hall is rented to a wealthy gentleman from London and he brings his friend with him, Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and Darcy collide almost immediately. But since Elizabeth’s sisters, friends, and acquaintances all struggle to find marriage and happiness, Elizabeth has to face the fact that first impressions can be deceiving and finding happiness in marriage may not be as easy as finding an advantageous game too do.
How to Read Pride and Prejudice
Pride and prejudice may intimidate some readers, but while the style and voice are more formal than contemporary novels, it’s important to remember that this book is meant to be a humorous satire of marriage and society. Many of the characters are not meant to be taken too seriously, and they live in a society where marriage dictates the means people live in and their social standing first and the couple’s happiness second or last Job. Read slowly to appreciate the humor and take breaks if necessary – luckily for the modern reader, Jane Austen wrote in shorter, more accessible chapters!
Questions about the Pride & Prejudice Book Club
“It is a universally accepted truth that a single man with great fortune must depend on a woman.” This opening line is possibly the most famous first line in all of English literature. What do you make of it? How does it set the tone for the rest of the novel?
What was your first impression of Darcy? In retrospect, do you think Elizabeth overreacted to her interpretation of Darcy’s rudeness, or do you think her first impression was valid? How are both characters guilty of pride and prejudice?
Charlotte Lucas explains at the beginning of the book: “Happiness in marriage is a matter of chance.” Do you agree with her why or why not?
Discuss Charlotte’s reasons for marrying Mr. Collins. Do you think she was pragmatic or acted in fear? Do you think Elizabeth’s criticism of her decisions was too harsh?
When do you think Darcy was first attracted to Elizabeth? Why do you think it took Elizabeth so long to feel it?
When Darcy first suggests, he insults Elizabeth’s family. Do you think his judgments are fair? Why or why not?
Do you think it’s realistic that Elizabeth’s feelings about Darcy will change significantly, even though she barely spends time with him after turning down his proposal? Why or why not?
What do you think Darcy’s motivation is when he comes to the Bennet family rescue after Lydia runs away? Do you think he is only motivated by his love for Elizabeth, or does he feel obliged to help because he never revealed Wickham’s true nature?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh clearly believes that her money and title enable her to tell others how to live their lives. Discuss how their participation in other people’s lives reflects on them. What other forms of dramatic irony did you notice in the text?
The Bennet parents are clearly very unhappy in their own marriage – how do you think their relationship affects their daughters? How do you think their relationship affects their own parenting styles? Do you think they are both good parents?
Consider the ending and the resulting pairs of the novel. Who is really happy Who is unhappy? Are there couples who are happy in life but unhappy in marriage? What message (if any) do you think Jane Austen wanted to convey about marriage and happiness in life? Do you think this message sounds true today?
Pride & Prejudice has inspired so many adaptations and retelling over the years, from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web series produced by Hank Green. What are some of your favorite works inspired by Pride & Prejudice? Why do you think the novel is so ripe for retelling and adaptation? What about the issues that persist more than 200 years later?
Do you want more great book club reads? We’ve rounded up some of the best book club tips for 2020 for you.
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