Suggested Essay Topics Pride And Prejudice Fanfiction

  • 1

    In which ways is Elizabeth different from the rest of the Bennet family? What does the contrast reveal about her character?

    Elizabeth is one of the only characters in Pride and Prejudice who changes significantly over the course of the story. Her distinctive quality is her extreme perceptiveness, which she uses to assess others at the beginning of the novel and understand her own flaws at the end. Most of the other Bennets are stuck in their ways - Jane is eternally optimistic, Lydia and Mrs. Bennet are frivolous, Mr. Bennet is sarcastic and cynical, and so on - but Elizabeth regularly reflects on the events in her life. She learns to question herself whereas most of the others act as though they have settled on a certain worldview. Elizabeth is therefore a true individual who adapts to the world around her, and seeks constantly to better understand her desires so that she can find happiness.

  • 2

    Overall, do you believe Austen has a conservative or radical approach to the issue of class? Why or why not?

    Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice takes a moderate stance on class differences. Austen never posits an egalitarian ideology. However, she does criticize the society's over-emphasis on class instead of individual moral character. Darcy's journey from extreme class-consciousness to prioritizing manners over money is the best example of Austen's criticism. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is affected upon visiting Pemberley. The grand estate does have an impact on her already changing feelings towards Darcy, which is one example of Austen justifying the appeal of the upper class. Overall, Austen accepts (and even appreciates) the existence of class hierarchy, but also offers a warning about how class-based prejudice can poison society.

  • 3

    Explore Austen's portrayal of the women in the novel. In what ways does she sympathize with their plight, and in what ways is she unsympathetic?

    Austen's attitude towards women is quite complicated. Generally, Austen is critical of the gender injustices present in 19th century English society, particularly in the context of marriage. She is able to voice this criticism through characters like Charlotte Lucas (who marries Collins because she needs security) and even Mrs. Bennet (who, though ridiculous, is the only one to speak out against the entailment of Longbourn). Furthermore, Austen's caricatured portrayal of the younger Bennet daughters is evidence of her disdain for frivolous women. Her opinion was perhaps more in line with Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth, or even the dour Mary. While Austen seems to accept the limitations of her gender, she criticizes a society that forces women to emphasize their least flattering characteristics.

  • 4

    Elizabeth has a markedly different attitude about marriage than other characters - notably Charlotte and Mrs. Bennet - have. To what extent is she unfair in her assessment of their attitudes, and to what extent might they benefit from employing her perspective?

    Charlotte and Mrs. Bennet both believe that marriage is a business transaction in which a woman must be the active party in securing a good match for herself. This pragmatic assessment stands in stark contrast to Elizabeth's more romantic worldview. However, at this period in history, at least in certain higher classes, if a man chose not to marry, he only risked loneliness and regret. Meanwhile, a woman in the same situation could lose her financial security. Therefore, it is understandable why Charlotte and Mrs. Bennet believe that a woman must consider employing manipulation for the sake of her future. Charlotte deliberately draws Mr. Collins's attention in order to secure a proposal. However, Jane does not follow Charlotte's advice and nearly loses Bingley's love in the process. Lydia takes a drastic action that forces her marriage to occur. It is only Elizabeth who operates entirely outside the societal norm, but Austen makes it clear that her situation is quite unique.

  • 5

    Some critics applaud Austen's ability to craft psychologically complex and believable characters, while others believe she mostly creates well-drawn comic stock characters. Which argument do you support?

    Though this question asks for an opinion, a strong thesis would be that Austen straddles the line between comic stock characters and psychologically complex ones. Elizabeth Bennet has a magnetic and singular personality, as does Darcy. They are arguably one of the most beloved literary couples of all time. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine are almost trapped in their exaggerated personality traits, which Austen often uses for comic (and satirical) effect. However, Austen reveals a keen perception of human psychology, even through these supposedly two-dimensional characters. Mr. Collins, for instance, reflects the truth of a class-obsessed society. Mrs. Bennet embodies the desperation of women to find a good marriage. Therefore, Austen does create unique stock characters that emphasize certain aspects of human psychology while also providing comic relief.

  • 6

    Austen's original draft of this novel was titled First Impressions. Explain why this title makes sense, as explore the reasons why Pride and Prejudice is more apt.

    First Impressions describes the main romantic conflict - will Elizabeth and Darcy end up together despite their first impressions of one another? However, Pride and Prejudice suggests a much deeper psychological struggle, more fitting to the complexity of Austen's novel. Whereas First Impressions only implies a story of corrected perceptions, Pride and Prejudice describes a story where the characters must investigate themselves, addressing the unconscious impulses that work to prohibit self-awareness. Finally, the final title is all-encompassing, reaching beyond just Elizabeth and Darcy. It offers a comment on the novel's larger themes like class and the role of women.

  • 7

    Darcy is initially attracted to Elizabeth's "fine eyes." Analyze this symbol, and explain what it shows about both Darcy and Elizabeth.

    Despite Elizabeth's obvious coldness toward him, Darcy finds himself increasingly attracted to her, particularly her beautiful dark eyes. The darkness of her eyes also represents Elizabeth's main weakness‹: the pride and prejudice that cloud her perception. Elizabeth prides herself on her ability to judge others and uncover their motives. However, her prejudgment of Darcy makes her blind to his admiration. In the conversation about Darcy at Netherfield, Elizabeth offers that Darcy's defect is "a propensity to hate everybody," while Darcy perceptively replies that hers is "Œwillfully to misunderstand them." Indeed, while Elizabeth judges Darcy for over-valuing his first impression of her, she exhibits the exact same shortcoming. Ultimately, the darkness of her eyes reflects the complexity of Elizabeth's prejudice, but that complexity is very much what draws Darcy towards her in the first place.

  • 8

    In what ways does Austen portray the family and community as responsible for its members?

    Though Pride and Prejudice is largely a story about individuality, Austen portrays the family unit as primarily responsible for the intellectual and moral education of children. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's failure to provide a proper education for their daughters leads to Lydia's utter foolishness. Elizabeth and Jane manage to develop virtue and discernment in spite of their parents' negligence, though it is notable that they have other role models like the Gardiners. Darcy shares both his father's aristocratic nature and the man's tendency towards generosity, while Lady Catherine's daughter is too frightened to speak. This attitude extends to the larger community, as well. Lydia's time in Meryton and Brighton bring out her worst impulses. Similarly, the community around Pemberley respects Darcy's generosity and follows his lead in being kind and trustworthy.

  • 9

    Though undoubtedly a comic character, Mr. Collins reflects some rather unattractive qualities of his society. Explain this statement.

    Mr. Collins is defined by his rambling speeches of excessive formality and his boorishness disguised as faux-politeness. And yet, Mr. Collins is also a reflection of a society obsessed with class, a monster engendered by this singular pressure. Mr. Collins comes from modest means and likely always dreamed of a respectable position. When he attracted an aristocratic patroness like Lady Catherine, he saw only her rank, which made him blind to her harsh and condescending attitude. He compensates for his insecurity by pretending to act like Lady Catherine and those of her class. In this way, Collins and Lady Catherine are examples of the societal acceptance of class without manners but not the opposite.

  • 10

    Explain why Austen ends her novel with a line about the Gardiners, even though they are minor characters in Pride and Prejudice.

    The Gardiners are important because they are a middle-class couple that behaves reasonably and virtuously. Mrs. Gardiner is a great role model for Elizabeth, though she reveals little unique personality of her own. Mr. Gardiner proves to be instrumental in saving Lydia from her scandalous elopement. They both acknowledge the importance of class and education, but place a greater emphasis on personal conduct. The Gardiners also externalize Darcy's inner struggle. When Darcy treats the Gardiners well at Pemberley and then later works with Mr. Gardiner to rescue Lydia, it indicates that he has internalized Elizabeth's view of personality and class. The novel thus ends on the Gardiners because is offers a final illustration that Elizabeth and Darcy have reached a happy medium between class and behavior beyond the barriers of pride and prejudice.

  • Essay 2 Brainstorm: Balls and Dancing in Pride and Prejudice

    April 6th, 2017

    1. Pick an activity, an object, or a set of objects (dancing, walking, different types of carriages, musical instruments, books, games) and examine its/their significance in one or more of the novels we’ve read.  What is this activity, object, or set of objects doing within the text?  Why and how does Austen use it/them?  How are these activities or objects marked by, and how do they mark, different social categories like class and gender?

    In our next essay, I will consider the function of dancing and balls within Pride and Prejudice. As Austen writes, “To be fond of dancing was a certain step toward falling in love” (page 7). I will argue that both balls and dancing underscore the theme of courtship and marriage within the novel. What’s more, these balls, as well as the dancing that takes place within them, point to the importance of societal norms and conventions within courtship. For example, following the Meryton Ball, characters within the novel including Elizabeth and Mrs. Bennet are quick to assume that Mr. Bingley has feelings for Jane, as he asked her to dance not once, but twice. Mrs. Bennet says recalling the night to Mr. Bennet, ‘…We have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Every body said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful and danced with her twice. Only think of that my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time’” (page 10). Here, we see the importance of the Meryton Ball for courtship, and what’s more, we see Mrs. Bennet using Mr. Bingley’s adherence to social norms of asking the woman he is interested in (Jane) to dance to conclude that he does in fact admire her. Darcy, of course, stands in stark contrast to Mr. Bingley in that respect. 

    While I haven’t formulated my essay’s thesis yet, I am also interested in looking at the ways in which characters in the novel judge other characters for adherence or lack of adherence to social norms and expectations. Mr. Bingley, for example, is prized for his apt dancing and general demeanor at the balls, and Austen writes,“Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was likely and unreserved, danced every dance, and was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield” (page 8). By contrast, refuses to dance at the Meryton Ball, and later in the novel when he does dance, Elizabeth mocks him for being unable to carry a conversation. Elizabeth judges Darcy for his usual behavior at the Ball, as does she judge Mr. Collins for his inability to dance. Austen writes of Elizabeth’s dance with Mr. Collins, “They were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologizing instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give The moment of her release from him was exstacy” (page 65). 

    I haven’t had much time this week to flesh out my thesis, but I’ve started pulling quotes that will help me explore the connection between dancing, balls, courtship, societal expectations, and relationships within Pride and Prejudice, and have included my working list below. 

    Meryton Ball

    “Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was likely and unreserved, danced every dance, and was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield” (page 8).

    “Mr. Bingley trying to get Darcy to dance: “I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with” (page 9). 

    “To be found of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley’s hear were entertained” (page 7). 

    Jane and Mr. Bingley dance together twice at the ball

    “Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough to be never without partners, which was all that they had yet learnt to care for at a ball. “

    “‘…we have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Every body said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful and danced with her twice. Only think of that my dear; h actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time.’

    Jane to Elizabeth: “I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a compliment” (page 11). 

    “I should like balls infinitely better if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious int eh sisal process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day” (page 40) Caroline 

    Nether field Ball (Chapter XVIII)

    “When Mr. Collins says that he wants the first two dances with Elizabeth at the Netherfield Ball “Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully proposed being engaged by Wickham for those very dances:—and to have Mr. Collins instead!—her liveliness had been never worse timed. There was no help for it however” (page 64)

    “‘It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.—I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples’” (page 66). Elizabeth mocking Darcy for his silence during their dance. 

    “’Do you talk by rule then, while you are dancing?’” (page 66)

    “’Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together, and yet for the vantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible’” (page 66)

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