Pride and Prejudice - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz looks at setting in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Setting in a literary text means the location and the time in which the events take place. But its meaning extends beyond these basics. It can be very easy to forget that texts usually have several settings, since events can occur in different places and times. Buildings and spaces provide separate settings within the wider setting, and these specific settings often provide a contrast to one another. Background events, even if only mentioned by characters, are a crucial element in a text’s setting, as are political and social issues. The wider fictional world is termed context (it’s important, however, not to confuse this fictional context, which remains part of the setting, with the author’s real-life context). Atmosphere, another key element of setting, will often change multiple times in a text.

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While many aspects of the setting are mentioned, including landscape features such as lakes, woods, parks and places perfect for garden walks, these are not described in any detail at all. What effect do such settings have as you read the text? Are you able to envisage Netherfield, Rosings, or the Bennets’ home? Does this matter? Why or why not?

Pride and Prejudice seems at first to inhabit a very narrow world, one in which women wait around to become wives. Certainly most of the female characters appear indoors. Elizabeth is an exception to this tendency, as is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Even Mrs Gardiner, who does travel, is described as not being a great walker. Quite a bit of movement does occur in the novel, despite this justified impression. Characters travel to Brighton, to Meryton, to London, to Kent and to Derbyshire. Letters come and go and people are often meeting unexpectedly in places far from the Bennets’ home. Time passes surreptitiously. Remember that a text’s setting also includes geographical elements such as region, country, environment, landscapes and buildings. Paying close attention to the interaction of characters with their environment; can you describe how such interactions affect the text?

Answer the questions below on setting in Pride and Prejudice.

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  1. Which of the following best describes the mood at Longbourn while the Bennet family awaits news of Lydia?
    Although news is eagerly awaited, each letter has the potential to bring disappointment, sorrow, or just further anxiety: "Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the post was expected"
  2. Where do Elizabeth and Jane first meet the Bingleys and Mr Darcy?
    Balls are a regular occurrence. When Mrs Bennet is fretting that someone else's daughter will catch Mr Bingley's eye before her own daughters have been introduced, Elizabeth reminds her that they will certainly meet him at a ball
  3. Pride and Prejudice is set in which country?
    The Bennet family live in Hertfordshire
  4. Where is Mr Bennet most often to be found?
    Mr Bennet escapes family life, noise and discomfort by retreating to his library
  5. What does Elizabeth appreciate about the grounds of Pemberley?
    Elizabeth approves of the way in which landscaping enhances the natural beauty of the grounds
  6. "When the tea-things were removed, and the card tables placed, the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were overthrown, by seeing him fall a victim to her mother's rapacity for whist players, and in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party." What does this passage convey?
    The novel includes many situations where an honest conversation is impossible to arrange due to the presence of others
  7. When is the novel set?
    The novel was first published in 1813 and is set in a time which is roughly contemporary
  8. Lady Catherine de Bourgh's appearance in the Bennet home towards the end of the novel is intrusive. Which of the following phrases does not convey this impression?
    Lady Catherine's appearance is presented as an imposition on the family which she is only able to make because of her sense of great superiority. Her request for a walk with Elizabeth frees the rest of the family from her presence, but also makes possible her insulting request that Elizabeth never agree to marry Mr Darcy
  9. The Bennet's home is located in which of the following?
    Travelling plays a key role in the novel. Longbourn is a very small village a mile away from the somewhat larger Meryton. Netherfield Park is three miles away, a distance which becomes an issue when Jane falls ill after being caught in the rain
  10. "It was rather small, but well built and convenient." Whose home does this describe?
    Mr Collins is very proud of his home. Elizabeth believes that he tries to make her regret her refusal to marry him. Her unpleasant encounter with Mr Darcy takes place in the relatively cramped environment of this home

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