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Pride and Prejudice - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on character in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is peopled with a great number of characters representing the social circle of the "principal inhabitants" of a small southern English village of the early nineteenth century. The reader meets many of these characters as the Bennets socialise with their neighbours and some of the inhabitants of Meryton. We also meet other members of their family, primarily Mr and Mrs Gardiner.

The arrival into this local society of Mr Bingley, his sisters and his friend Mr Darcy brings excitement and possibility, as does the temporary stay of officers and soldiers in Meryton.

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New acquaintances draw the Bennets to the attention of more distant figures such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and each of these characters is shown to be connected in a wider network which underpins the social relationships in the novel, as Mr Collins’s patroness is revealed to be Mr Darcy’s aunt, as well. Mr Wickham, too, links characters in unexpected, and unwelcome, ways. Very few characters are portrayed outside this class-based social circle, with the exception of a few supportive servants, whose importance lies in their ability to offer trustworthy judgements of their employers’ characters.

Interestingly, Pride and Prejudice is heavily-weighted towards dialogue, rather than narration. Even when we read a letter included in the text (and there are many), we are hearing the voice of a character. What do we learn of characters through their dialogue, their behaviour in public, their behaviour in private, and their near-private thoughts as expressed in letters?

When reading fiction, pay attention to how each character interacts with others. Can you identify anyone whose behaviour changes in different company? What do we learn when we see Mr Collins engaged in conversation with someone he views as a social inferior? Does Elizabeth Bennet change her behaviour depending on her company? Who changes over the course of the novel and how?

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Pride and Prejudice.

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  1. Lydia is in no way chastened by her experience of elopement with Mr Wickham and having required the intervention of family and friends. This attitude is implied by which of the following quotes?
    Lydia follows her passions without having any sense of self-preservation. She seems to have no idea what future would have awaited her if Mr Darcy had not found and basically bribed Mr Wickham into marriage
  2. Who most displays the "prejudice" of the title?
    Elizabeth Bennet's view of Mr Darcy is formed very quickly and is resistant to change. Her prejudice makes her very susceptible to the lies of Mr Wickham. Many other characters, of course, also exhibit prejudice
  3. "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride - where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation." Why does Elizabeth smile when Mr Darcy makes this proclamation?
    By referring to "real superiority of mind", Mr Darcy confirms her view of him as proud. She hides her smile, however. Why might she not wish him to see her smiling at his comment?
  4. Which of the following best describes Jane Bennet?
    Jane is presented as good, patient and thoughtful
  5. The Bennet and Lucas families discuss whether Mr Darcy's pride is justified or not. The conversation descends into a disagreement between Mrs Bennet and a young Lucas regarding her hypothetical confiscation of his alcohol: "The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare she would, and the argument ended only with the visit." What does this sentence reveal about Mrs Bennet's character?
    By arguing at length about a hypothetical situation with a young child, Mrs Bennet reveals the inappropriateness of her public behaviour, her lack of awareness of the effect her behaviour has on others, and her immaturity. She also demonstrates a particular tenaciousness
  6. "Mr Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain." What does Mr Darcy mean by these words?
    Mr Darcy is confident that Mr Wickham's bad character will reveal itself through his actions quickly enough
  7. Which of the following is NOT true of Mr Bennet?
    Mr Bennet is wise, kindly and amusing, but he has many failings as a father. Despite being his favourite, Elizabeth acknowledges that he has not protected his family as well as he could
  8. Which of the following best describes Lady Catherine de Bourgh?
    Lady Catherine and Elizabeth share many qualities, such as their honesty and forthrightness, which inevitably bring them into conflict. Elizabeth refuses to be deferential in the way Lady Catherine presumes she will be
  9. How does Mr Collins at first respond to Elizabeth's refusal to marry him?
    Mr Collins persists in believing that Elizabeth is playing games and trying to increase his desire to marry her, only understanding that he has been refused when he hears the words from another man, Mr Bennet
  10. Having overheard Mr Darcy refer to her as "not handsome enough", Elizabeth Bennet later turns his rudeness into an amusing story for her friends. Which of the following characteristics does this episode NOT demonstrate?
    Elizabeth does care about the impression she makes on others, even if her response is privately to become angry at them while publicly pretending otherwise

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