Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice discussion

Pride and Prejudice analysis, themes, trivia, audio, video

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message 1: by Barriodude (new)

Barriodude Hi all -

Just wanted to get feedback on a new website that a bunch of us (mostly Ph.D. and Masters students from Stanford and Berkeley) just recently launched.

Here's our coverage of Pride and Prejudice. We'd love to hear what you think.


Kristen Callihan Very helpful! thanks! :)

message 3: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam content is not very academic - reads like the writer watched the movie and didn't read the book. Bingley's sisters are not 'catty' (deliberately hurtful) - except in the movie - may I recommend the Oxford Illustrated version of P&P w/ notes by RW Chapman.

Robin It reads like a glossary of what happened during the time of Jane Austen's writing the book. It makes sense to me, the romantic and the intellectual sparring between Lizzie and Darcy is the saving grace of the book. There was mention of Pretty Woman and Bridget Jone's which is loosely based on one of Austen's novels. The writer could have also used the Alicia Silverstone movie as another offshoot of an Austen novel.

message 5: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam Your excerpt reveals Miss Bingley to be tactless and shows a lack of couth befitting her position but it isn't "catty" by definition. The Austen novels are infinitely complex in terms of character and you have to take into account the speaker and the receiver. My comment was in reference to the shmoop reviews which I expected to be more academic but were not. Oh well.

message 6: by Kim (last edited May 25, 2011 12:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tam wrote: "Your excerpt reveals Miss Bingley to be tactless and shows a lack of couth befitting her position but it isn't "catty" by definition. The Austen novels are infinitely complex in terms of character..."

I agree that the shmoopp website isn't very academic, but I'm guessing that it wasn't meant to be, given its linguistic style and pop culture references. If the reviews and notes help young people understand and appreciate Austen, that's fine with me. As far as "catty" is concerned, I'm with BunWat. Miss Bingley's behaviour towards Jane and Elizabeth goes beyond tactless. She knew what she was doing when she wrote to Jane and she couldn't help herself when she needled Darcy about Elizabeth. In my view, her behaviour can certainly be described as spiteful, which is just a more formal word for catty. (Mind you, I prefer the word "spiteful", as it's not gendered in the way "catty" is).

message 7: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam I guess the "PHd & Masters students from Berkeley & Stanford" made me think shmoop was going to be academic??

I like Miss Bingley character because she is carefully crafted - she's a ready friend of Jane's and only becomes devious when her discreet (or so she would like to think) courtship of Darcy is threatened by Jane's sister. Yet she so thoroughly shoots herself in the foot over and over that she becomes the character that you snigger about under your breath because you see how she is trying to be clever but plays her cards so poorly. I love that Miss Bingley snears at Mrs. Bennett then behaves in so similar a fashion, revealing all her insecurities through her trite comments. I've always felt that Jane Austen must have known someone very much like Miss Bingley because she really takes great care in revealing her deficiencies at every opportunity, but so subtlely that she seems intimate w/ the nuance of the character. Jane and Elizabeth are romantic fascinations in terms of character but there is something very real about Miss Bingley, she's still exists today in society - and she's the reason people still read Austen - relevance.

message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I agree. In my mind there's no doubt that Miss Bingley was deliberately malicious while pretending to be otherwise. I also agree that her character is superbly drawn. Austen probably did know a Miss Bingley, as we all have at some point in our lives. The fact that we can recognise Miss Bingley and Mr Collins and Mrs Bennett and so many of Austen's other characters is part of what makes Austen such a great writer and still so relevant.

As for shmoop, I presume that the PhD and Masters students from Berkeley and Stanford aimed to use their academic credentials to create an educational resource that would be accessible and attractive to young people studying writers such as Austen for the first time.

message 9: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam The issue w/ the definition of catty or malice is that it implies that this technique works on Mr. Darcy. But it's not a singular conversation and the author bothered to explain in great detail the definition of an accomplished woman - by Miss Bingley and the added caveat by Mr. Darcy because she wanted the readers to know that Miss Bingley however common place her accomplishments - she still remained decidedly and inescapably foolish. Jane Austen is really sticking it to poor Miss Bingley - she doesn't let her say or do anything w/out revealing her vacuous mind. She is the character who comes out of the loo w/ her skirt tucked in her underwear and we all get to see what's there and laugh at her, but we never tell her she's exposed. Jane isn't generous, she wants you to laugh at Miss Bingley, she wants you to be aware of the error in her character. Miss Bingley trying chide Darcy or tell him something that he doesn't already know about the deficiencies of his possible outlaws is ridiculous and Darcy remained arrogantly unruffled to them. Where is the malice in that? - self-defeating yes - but unbeknowst to her. She isn't shown to be malicious, just foolish and without the sense to know better despite all her priviledge and insufficient education. Maybe Miss Bingley should have spent more time reading and less time attempting to master the art of female influence and Darcy would have been her prize.

But she is a great character - finely tuned in all the ways undetectable to most everyone in her circle except for Darcy and Elizabeth. And that is significant - it's a big statement to say here is the more accomplished female and yet look at all the gaps in her 'education' and look at how those gaps hurt the female populace. If we don't educate females w/ books - if you leave out all these other ways of thinking and being then we condemn them to an arcane folly. Jane Austen was critical of her society, critical of the methods and practices used to set apart the tiers - her cutting comments, her satire are meant to make you think beyond the surface.

message 10: by Kim (last edited May 27, 2011 02:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim BunWat wrote: "Tam wrote: "The issue w/ the definition of catty or malice is that it implies that this technique works on Mr. Darcy. ..."

No it doesn't. The success or failure of a ploy has no bearing on whet..."

I agree. Smart people are quite capable of identifying spiteful comments when they hear them. Darcy did, but that doesn't make Miss Bingley's comments any less malicious. I would add that spitefulness and stupidity are not mutually exclusive concepts. Miss Bingley could be both spiteful and foolish at the same time. Plenty of people are.

message 11: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam I think you're both filtering this dialogue through modern ideas and not taking into considering the author and her place / time.

I don't imagine you'd be on this trail if you both thought so little of the craft of the author.

If Austen needed malice, true malice to urge the plot along and have the reader concerned for her heroine she would NOT execute it in a "catty" as you call it dialogue between the classically trained girl looking for a husband (miss bingley) and the man to whom she is trying to make herself amiable (Mr. Darcy). What Miss Bingley is trying to do is to show herself to possess that one characteristic that Darcy announced to everyone was the one difference that he valued in a woman's education - understanding. Sure they need to speak languages, manage crafts, play instruments but he wants a woman of understanding, a reading and thinking woman.

Consider, in order for Miss Bingley to fulfil the definition of catty she would have to be "deliberately hurtful in her speech", but she's talking to Darcy, she's trying to endear herself to Darcy.

Miss Bingley is playing her 'understanding' card, when she notes to Darcy w/ all the delicacy and deference she can manage that he may want to consult his sense of propriety before he continues his fascination w/ Elizabeth's fine eyes. Her object is Darcy.

The author gives us malice in George Wickham. Real malice, real forethought of inflicting harm is Wickhams job - he represents malice in the truest sense of the word.

Deirdre LeFaye compiled and edited the personal letters of Jane Austen. When you read those personal letters you'll meet the characters in her books, she fictionalized them for her own relief. Jane was educated as a man would've been and once she had that understanding it was impossible for her to reconcile the fact that society valued her for her needlepoint. She used the writing to liberate herself and show them how wrong they all were about a woman's greatest asset.

What better reclaimation of dignity than to have the smart girl marry the wealthy man against all the contrivances of society?

message 12: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam The Queen's English.

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