1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
This opening line of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous first lines in all of English literature. It is also Jane Austen’s opening salvo of verbal irony, a figure of speech that generally means saying one thing but meaning another. Verbal irony is a little like sarcasm, but it lacks the harsh edge that sarcasm typically has.
What “universal truth” about marriage in early 19thC society is Austen really talking about here?
2. Jane Austen is fond of casting her central characters as near polar opposites in terms of personality. Lizzy and Jane, though close sisters, and Bingley and Darcy, though close friends, are near opposites in temperament.
What traits can you glean about the personalities of these characters from the following excerpts from Chapter IV?
Lizzy (speaking to Jane after the assembly): “‘But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never'” (CH IV, p. 13).
“Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character…Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving offense” (CH IV, pgs. 14-15).
3. The first fourteen chapters of Pride and Prejudice include several of the eight elements of the romance novel that Pamela Regis describes in A Natural History of the Romance Novel: Society Defined, The Meeting, The Attraction, and The Barrier. Find evidence in the text of where these elements occur.