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Pride and Prejudice - Themes

This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on themes in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Any work of literature will contain multiple themes. These themes might range from the subtle to the obvious. Individual themes will not be presented in isolation, but will instead interact with and comment upon other key themes in the text. The essential components of fiction, such as setting, character, plot and dialogue, are the means through which an author develops the themes of the text. Explore the related ideas and concepts in the text, tracing the development of its different themes. Do you notice having developed or changed any opinions over the course of the text? Compare your thoughts at the end of the text with those you held as you began reading. Have your views on any key issues changed? If so, could you explain why?

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See whether you can pinpoint the part in the text where you notice your personal views changing, or otherwise developing. Because you bring your individual thoughts, beliefs and experiences into consideration as you read, your response to the text will be deeply personal.

On the surface, Pride and Prejudice might appear simply to be about love, marriage, and the various obstacles these face in the world. At a push, you might decide that the novel must also be about the vices, the “pride” and “prejudice”, of its title. By looking deeper, you can see that the novel also concerns the relationship between appearance and reality, the role of the individual in society and the family, the difficulty of communication, the value of character and the personal cost of holding principles, amongst other themes. See if you can identify how the text asks you to respond to these themes. Are you meant to change or challenge yourself? If so, how?

While Pride and Prejudice focusses on an incredibly narrow social world, these themes are applicable more broadly. Money, most especially the unequal economic position of women in this society, plays a key role in the meaning of the novel. In order to understand this theme, you will need a good awareness of historical context.

Read the questions below and test your knowledge of the themes of Pride and Prejudice.

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  1. Which of the following is NOT communicated by letter?
    Many of the most intimate moments in the novel occur in the privacy of communication by letter; this is also the safest way of communicating the most sensitive and potentially embarrassing information
  2. Which of the following is considered a serious impediment to the possibility of marriage between Jane and Mr Bingley?
    Mrs Bennet's behaviour and the family's lack of money compound the fundamental problem presented by differences in class
  3. The problem of the entailed Longbourn estate is related to which of the following themes?
    The Bennet sisters have very little economic freedom to determine their lives. Interestingly, Mary seemingly continues in her hardly crowd-pleasing ways; Lydia concocts a near-disastrous elopement and Elizabeth puts her own pride and individual happiness before seeking economic security through marriage. Although the lack of economic freedom threatens the sisters, it does not entirely determine their choices
  4. How does Elizabeth Bennet defy societal expectations?
    Although she is assigned a conventional ending with a happy marriage to a wealthy man, Elizabeth is presented as one who refuses to conform to the demands of society in many important ways
  5. Which of the following does NOT illustrate the difference between outward appearance and inner reality?
    The novel is full of misleading appearances and misjudgements based on incomplete information
  6. Which one of the following does NOT prevent Elizabeth from perceiving Mr Darcy's virtuous character for a while?
    Mr Darcy does not wish to embarrass his sister, which would be the result if he defended himself against the charges of Mr Wickham. The world of Pride and Prejudice is one where ill-advised and impetuous behaviours can have lasting consequences, even if only in society's gossip
  7. Of the following characters, who displays little pride?
    Charlotte is eminently sensible and shows little sign of pride. Her humility and practicality see her marry Mr Collins after the briefest acquaintance
  8. In which of the following is money NOT an issue?
    Money's influence is everywhere in the novel, most insidiously in the flattery and obeisance offered to Lady Catherine. Lydia's stay in Brighton results in her elopement, which once again returns the novel to the issue of money, since her family has no money with which to induce Mr Wickham to marry her
  9. Elizabeth worries that her prospects in life, as well as Jane's, will be tainted by the behaviour of their sister Lydia. Mr Bennet tells her that she and Jane may rely on their own good reputations despite the silliness of their sisters. To which of the following themes is this conversation most directly related?
    Jane and Elizabeth are eventually judged upon their own merits, but only after great difficulty. Mr Bennet's optimism does not disguise the haphazard approach he takes to parenting
  10. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Which of the themes of Pride and Prejudice is prominently highlighted in the novel's first sentence?
    The first sentence elegantly, and humourously, sets out several of the novel's prominent concerns: marriage, especially marriage as financial security, the pursuit of wealth and the consensus of society

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