I was excited at the end of July when I saw that the new 5 Minutes for Books site was using Pride and Prejudice for its first Classics Bookclub selection, especially since I had just finished reading it earlier that week.

Here are some thoughts that readers were given to ponder:

For first time P&P readers:
Did you like the novel? Were there any surprises? Was it what you expected?

Technically this was the first time I held the book in my hands and read it, although I listened to the book on CD a few months ago when I just didn’t have time to read.  I’ve watched the A&E 5-hour miniseries twice (love it) and the newer 2005 movie (I won’t bother to go into how awful this one was: just don’t waste your time).

The surprise for me was realizing that Mr. Darcy never jumped into the river in front of his house before he met Elizabeth there.  The A&E miniseries used a little poetic license on that scene, but it works for me.

Yes, it was what I expected; however I enjoyed the extra depth of detail in the written story.

For repeat readers:
Did anything strike you differently this time? Anything you hadn’t noticed in earlier readings?

When I listened to the book on tape, I don’t remember noticing that the swim in the lake scene wasn’t actually in the book.

For all readers:
Do you have any favorite lines of the novel?

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” ~ Mr. Darcy

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” ~ Elizabeth Bennet

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” ~ Mr. Bennet

“It is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?” ~ Mr. Bennet

Why do you think the novel remains so popular 200 years after first publication? What makes it timeless?

The dialogue is crisp and witty and the characters have depth and interest.  The primary characters, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, both have to overcome preconceived notions – rooted in pride and prejudice – along the way.

I think women admire Elizabeth as a strong female character who is totally uninterested in Mr. Darcy despite of his wealth and social consequence.  She is repulsed by his character – especially his pride – and what she believes are his moral failings (although she forms this opinion based on faulty evidence).

The novel’s original title was First Impressions. Did you have any first impressions of the novel that were refuted? Any that were supported? Are all the first impressions in the novel correct?

Many first impressions in the novel are incorrect, especially where Mr. Darcy and Wickham are concerned.  As Elizabeth notes: “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”

Why do you think the novel is named Pride and Prejudice? How are each manifested in the story?

Mr. Darcy’s pride makes him arrogant and repulses others, especially Elizabeth, whose pride is insulted by him on their first meeting.  As she later says, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Elizabeth is strongly prejudiced against Mr. Darcy by defects in his character that are real, such as arrogance, and ones that aren’t, such as unjustness in his behavior towards Wickham.  Darcy is prejudiced against Elizabeth because of the inferiority of her family connections compared to his own.

Pride and Prejudice is a delicious novel that I’m sure to read again and again in the years to come!

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