Introductory Lecture and Objectives

Pride and Prejudice eNotes Lesson Plan content

One of the most famous first lines in English literature is found in Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The sentence immediately introduces the theme of marriage, a topic that is explored in the novel by following the character of Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest of five daughters in a family of landed gentry, and her relationship with a man of great wealth and property named Mr. Darcy. The first line also establishes the wry humor and irony which Jane Austen employs throughout the book; as the reader quickly realizes, the novel is not so much about the fact that a “single man” wants a wife—but that a single woman, particularly one without a fortune, is in dire need of a husband. The marriage theme is also explored through the characters of the Bennet sisters and Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas.

Jane Austen once described her work as existing within “that little bit (two inches wide) of ivory, in which I work with so fine a brush as produces little effect after much labour.” However, in focusing so narrowly on the life and trials of the Bennet family, its daughters, and their suitors, Austen creates in Pride and Prejudice a surprisingly incisive and revealing portrait of how social ritual, class, and gender were woven into the fabric of life in eighteenth century England. That Austen’s original title for the book was First Impressions provides fodder for discussion; there are clear episodes in the plot that illustrate how exterior markers such as appearance or fortune don’t always provide an accurate basis for making assumptions or judging others too quickly. The eventual title, Pride and Prejudice, perhaps encapsulates this theme more precisely.

The novel also depicts the reality that women—particularly if they were unfortunate enough to have their family estate entailed away as in the case of the Bennet daughters—were rarely in positions of power or authority. In creating the witty, intelligent, and assertive character of Elizabeth Bennet, Austen found a way to challenge the constraints of gender and the paradoxical rules that governed social institutions like marriage.

Few novels from any time period have the long-lasting cultural relevance of Pride and Prejudice. It has been adapted into well-known television productions, such as the BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Ehle and Colin Firth; a 2005 film version earned its star, Keira Knightly, an Oscar nomination. It also has inspired many other works with titles ranging from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2005) to Death Comes to Pemberley (2011), a murder mystery by well-known author P.D. James.

Jane Austen was born in 1775, the seventh child of the rector of Steventon parish located near Basingstoke, England. She remained at Steventon with her family until her father retired in 1801 and they moved to Bath. From the time she was a child, she wrote stories. Four of her novels were published during her lifetime, including Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published after her death in 1817.

By the end of the unit the student will be able to:

1. Describe what makes Elizabeth Bennet an appealing and interesting heroine, particularly given the time period of the novel.

2. Explain why the first line of the novel is among the most famous in English literature.

3. Analyze the way the social institution of marriage is both clearly explained and treated with gentle irony.

4. Identify the way social class and economic status affects the central characters.

5. Find examples in the text of how Austen illustrates the social hypocrisy of the era.

6. Explore the implications of gender in nineteenth-century society and how gender affects Elizabeth’s struggle between constructions of femininity and independent selfhood.

7. Describe what makes the novel a timeless classic.

8. Explain how the novel, through various characters, presents embodiments of “pride” and of “prejudice.”

Instructional Focus: Teaching With an eNotes Lesson Plan

This eNotes lesson plan is designed so that it may be used in numerous ways to accommodate ESL students and to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

Student Lesson Guide

  • The Lesson Guide is organized for study of the book in sections as indicated by chapters. Lesson Guide pages may be assigned individually and completed at a student’s own pace.
  • Lesson Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview for students the vocabulary words they will encounter in reading each section of the book and to acquaint them generally with its content.
  • Before Lesson Guide pages are assigned, questions may be selected from them to use as short quizzes to assess reading...

(The entire section is 534 words.)

Essay and Discussion Questions

1. Why might Austen want to write a novel about marriage? What complexities or insights into nineteenth-century society might be illuminated by this particular focus?

2. Is the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet depicted as a happy one? What background issues of class and economics inform the nature of their relationship?

3. Compare and contrast the ways that Elizabeth and Charlotte view marriage. Which of their views reflects the way society of the time viewed marriage? Which of them do you agree with?

4. What is the appeal of Wickham for Elizabeth? What type of basic human error does she make that prevents her from seeing the truth?


(The entire section is 633 words.)

Chapters 1 and 2


acquaintance: one’s slight knowledge of or friendship with someone

acquainted: to have personal knowledge of; to have been brought into social contact

advantage: a more favorable or improved condition or position

amends: corrects, fixes

assemblies: formal social gatherings

assuring: restoring or intending to restore confidence

caprice: an impulsive change of mood or behavior

chaise: a horse-drawn traveling carriage, usually two seated and chair backed

circumspection: marked by caution and earnest attention to all possible circumstances

conjecturing: making suppositions and speculations as to possible outcomes


(The entire section is 1019 words.)

Chapters 3 and 4


affectation: the act of taking up or displaying a feeling, attitude, or opinion not natural to oneself or not genuinely felt

air: aura, manner, style

amiable: of a generally agreeable nature

apt: quick

ascertaining: determining with certainty

beheld: seen, witnessed

Boulanger: Georges Ernest Boulanger, a French general

candour: unreserved, honest, or sincere expression

censuring: judging

circulation: passage or transmission from person to person

commendation: the expression of approval

conceited: having overly high self-esteem or self-regard

conceive: to imagine, to visualize

consequently: as a result


(The entire section is 1714 words.)

Chapters 5 and 6


accosted: confronted; approached boldly or aggressively

application: the act of fixing one’s mind closely or attentively

archly: slyly, playfully

arising: originating from a specified source

asserting: stating plainly or strongly

bestow: to provide

capital: most enjoyable; excellent

civil: adequate in courtesy and politeness

Commerce: popular nineteenth century card game

complaisance: archaic complacence; a ready attitude to please, often indicated by agreeing to a request

compliment: a formal expression of esteem or respect; praise, flattering remark

composure: calmness of mind in appearance or attitude...

(The entire section is 1585 words.)

Chapters 7 and 8


abominable: quite disagreeable or unpleasant

affinity: an attraction to or liking of something

alternative: a choice, an option

ample: plenty, more than enough

animation: liveliness

apothecary: British a physician

assent: agreement

benevolence: disposition to do good

brilliancy: brightness (often associated with beauty)

capacity: the power or ability to hold, receive, or contain

clerk: an employee in charge of keeping records or accounts; one who performs routine office tasks

coach: a large, usually enclosed, four-wheeled carriage with side doors, passenger seats, and an elevated driver’s seat located in...

(The entire section is 1655 words.)

Chapters 9 and 10


adhering: holding, following, or maintaining loyalty steadily and consistently (as to a person, group, principle, or way)

advisable: wise, sensible

affront: to insult especially to someone’s face by behavior or language

alacrity: a quickness in responding; eagerness

alliance: union

amendment: the act of changing something, especially for the better

apparent: obvious, easily seen or noticed

appertain: to belong or be connected as a rightful part or attribute

approbation: approval; good or positive opinion

atoned: made up for an improper action; made amends

aweful: archaic awful, unpleasant, dreadful


(The entire section is 1265 words.)

Chapters 11 and 12


amused: pleasantly diverted

anecdote: a usually short story of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident

civility: courtesy; polite social behavior

confidence: trust

congratulation: an expression of sympathetic pleasure regarding an achievement

diffuseness: the state of being widespread

failing: a personality defect or character weakness

implacable: not able to be settled or appeased

inflexibly: stubbornly

inquiry: a request for information

insufferably: acting in a way incapable of being endured

laconic: brief or concise

meditating: reflecting on, contemplating

petition: an earnest request


(The entire section is 837 words.)

Chapters 13 and 14


abode: a home, a dwelling

absurd: ridiculously unreasonable

affability: the quality or state of being sociable

allude: to make an indirect reference

alterations: changes

antagonist: an opponent

asperity: severity; rigor

beneficence: active goodness or kindness

breach: a break in friendly relations

christening: the ceremony of baptizing and officially naming a child

commendable: worthy of being praised

condescension: an act of descending from a higher position to relate to inferiors

constitution: the whole physical being of a person, particularly as it relates to health

defective: flawed

demean: to...

(The entire section is 738 words.)

Chapters 15 and 16


amply: generously, thoroughly

astonish: to surprise or amaze

authoritative: having an air of authority over others, often demanding submission from them

avowal: an open declaration of direct acknowledgment

bequeathed: given by formal declaration so that the thing given passes into ownership of the recipient after the death of the donor

bonnet: a woman’s hat

cessation: a pause or an end (as of an action)

conditional: not certain, dependent on other factors

conversible: pleasant or easy to talk with

corroborated: established or made firm; supported by evidence or authority

degenerate: to pass from a higher to a lower type or...

(The entire section is 1452 words.)

Chapters 17 and 18


abundantly: greatly, plentifully, by a large amount

accounts: statements or opinions about a specific topic

acquit: to free, to rid

affected: given to false show; assuming or pretending to have what is not natural or real

age: a relatively long time period

alienated: made unfriendly or hostile especially in terms of friendship

allusion: an indirect or implied reference

attending: applying the mind or paying attention with a view toward understanding or performing correctly

attentions: acts of courtesy or care toward someone or something

audible: capable of being heard

ceremonious: marked by ceremony, especially by full, elaborate,...

(The entire section is 1791 words.)

Chapters 19 and 20


coaxed: influenced or persuaded by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering; persuaded with persistence

conference: a meeting

contemplation: deep thought

coquetry: flirtatious behavior intended to attract affection or attention

dawdled: wasted time, spent more time than necessary on a task

declaration: a formal statement or proclamation

detained: stopped, delayed

diffidence: lack of confidence

dissemble: to hide under a false appearance

disservice: unfairness, wrong, injustice

doleful: miserable, sad

earnestness: a serious state of mind; a firm sense of purpose

economy: archaic the art of managing a...

(The entire section is 759 words.)

Chapters 21 and 22


abatement: the ending, reduction, or lessening of something

apprehension: anticipation of future unfavorable things

assiduous: marked or characterized by constant or persistent attention

avail: to take advantage of; to use or benefit from

beaux (beaus): boyfriends, love interests

bewailed: expressed deep sorrow or regret

cease: to stop

comparatively: by comparison to a previous condition

composed: formed of

comprised: included, contained

conception: a general notion

concurrence: a meeting or coming together

continuance: the state of remaining in existence or operation

cordiality: warm regard, good will...

(The entire section is 1080 words.)

Chapters 23 and 24


abhorrence: intense dislike

allowances: the taking into account of circumstances that could change an opinion or decision

appease: to satisfy, to bring to a state of contentment or peace

barbarously: horribly, cruelly

befal: archaic to befall; to take place

boisterously: noisily, roughly or rudely in behavior

conjunction: a coming together, a joining

courtier: a person who woos or seeks favor

crossed: obstructed

discharging: relieving or getting rid of something that burdens

disinterestedness: freedom from selfish motives, fair-mindedness

distinction: a difference in rank or level


(The entire section is 857 words.)

Chapters 25 and 26


ablution: the washing of one’s body or part of it

acquiescence: acceptance, agreement

acquisition: coming into a new possession

advance: to move forward or toward something

alleviated: lessened, relieved

artful: crafty, deceitful

attachment: a feeling (as affection) that ties a person to another person

banish: to drive away, expel

cleanse: to wash, to clean

combated: fought, struggled with

defection: desertion, especially to an opposing side

detest: to hate, to intensely dislike

discourse: conversation, discussion

distractedly: in a deeply troubled or emotionally distressed manner

duped: misled or...

(The entire section is 1122 words.)

Chapters 27 and 28


adieu: French goodbye, farewell

amidst: in the middle of

aspect: archaic appearance to the eye or mind

attentive: regarding with care or attention

avarice: excessive desire for wealth or gain, greediness

bustle: noisy or energetic activity

cultivation: training, developing

diversified: varied or changed from the usual

drawing-room: a more or less formal reception room

fender: a low often ornamental fence of iron or brass set before a hearth to confine coals and ashes

hedge: a fence or boundary formed by a row of shrubs or low tress planted close together

mercenary: seeking only financial gain,...

(The entire section is 431 words.)

Chapters 29 and 30


antichamber (antechamber): a room or foyer placed before and leading into a chief apartment and serving as a waiting room

apparel: clothing, dress

ascended: moved upward

awful: deserving of awe or wonder

betray: to reveal something unintentionally

cassino: a card game played by two or more persons in which each player wins cards by matching or combining cards exposed on the table with cards from his/her hand

commission: a formal written warrant or authority granting certain powers or privileges and authorizing or commanding the performance of certain acts or duties

controverted: disputed

counterpart: a thing that serves to complete or complement...

(The entire section is 570 words.)

Chapters 31 and 32


amiss: not quite right; inappropriate, out of place

billiard table: a pool table

concise: brief, compactly stated

convenience: suitability which provides advantage or comfort

conversing: engaging in conversation

counterbalance: a force or power that offsets or neutralizes an opposing force

emergence: a coming out into view

fingering: the act or method of using the fingers (as in playing a musical instrument)

impolitic: unwise, foolish

informed: educated, knowledgeable

proficient: expert

retaliate: to put or inflict in return

Study Questions

1. While Elizabeth is playing the piano at...

(The entire section is 323 words.)

Chapters 33 and 34


acutest: most intense, most powerful

agitating: disturbing or troubling to the mind and feelings

ardently: with warmth or heat of emotion, feeling, or sentiment; passionately

attained: reached, achieved

charge: a person or thing committed or entrusted to the care, custody, management, or support of another

degradation: reduction to a lower rank, position, or level

dependence: the state of requiring something or someone as a necessary condition

disposal: the power or authority to make use of as one chooses

encounter: to come upon face to face

exasperate: to excite or increase anger

ground-work: basis, foundation


(The entire section is 761 words.)

Chapters 35 and 36


accede: to give approval or consent

accordingly: therefore, so

art: slyness, cunning

connivance: assent to wrongdoing

contrariety: the state of being contrary, opposition

courted: pursued

depravity: a corrupt or evil action

detaching: separating, withdrawing

dissipation: wasteful or immoral living

dissolved: ended, disconnected

elopement: the act of running away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent

employment: activity in which one uses time and energy

err: to turn aside from the proper path; to make a mistake

extinguished: put out, destroyed


(The entire section is 1077 words.)

Chapters 37 and 38


abide: to endure or put up with

abiding: living, staying

accounting: giving a reason for something

afresh: again; again with a new energy or focus

Barouche box: a four-wheeled shallow carriage with a driver’s seat high in front, two double seats inside, and a folding top over the back seat

chagrin: vexation, disquietude, or distress of mind brought on by humiliation, hurt pride, disappoint-ment, or consciousness of failure or error

commissioning: instructing or requesting something

consternation: dismaying or distressing excitement

deemed: formed an opinion of based on reflection

diminution: a decrease, a lessening in number or size...

(The entire section is 448 words.)

Chapters 39 and 40


allayed: put at rest, calmed

chaperon (chaperone): to guide, to escort

coarseness: rudeness, crudeness

congenial: kindred, having the same disposition

depreciate: to lower the worth of

disclosure: a revelation of a certain knowledge or discovery

dressing: preparing food for cooking or eating especially by adding something that coats or covers the surface

encamped: settled in temporary camps or living quarters

equivocal: ambiguous, unclear, vague

forbad: prohibited

harboured (harbored): contained, held

incumbrance: archaic encumbrance; something that holds back or delays an action or makes it difficult


(The entire section is 601 words.)

Chapters 41 and 42


anew: for an additional time

anticipation: the act of looking forward to something

apace: quickly

augment: to increase

cast down: gloomy, depressed

clamorous: noisy, loud

commencement: the beginning of something

conjugal: relating to marriage

contracted: shortened, shrunken, narrowed

curtailed: ended prematurely, cut short in scope or duration

death-warrant: something that puts an end to the existence of another thing

detect: to discover the true character of something or someone

deter: to turn aside, to discourage

diverted: entertained, amused

drooping: becoming depressed

enlarging: making...

(The entire section is 829 words.)

Chapters 43 and 44


abrupt: sudden, unexpected

accustomed: usual

acrimony: bitterness or sharpness in words or manner

adorned: decorated

altered: changed

appeals: requests

arrested: caught one’s attention

attributed: explained by indicating a cause

authority: a reliable source

bent: insistent, firm

circuit: a path or trail that travels in a circle or a round manner

construction: design, the form in which something is made

construed: understood or explained, often to one’s own satisfaction

coppice-wood: a grove of trees regularly cut down on a rotating basis to provide a constant supply of wood


(The entire section is 1033 words.)

Chapters 45 and 46


actuated: stirred or inspired to activity

bewildered: perplexed, confused

brevity: expression in few words

coherent: logically ordered, sensible

collected: composed, calm

commiseration: sympathy, compassion

concealed: hidden

confined: imprisoned, kept in narrow bounds

corps: a group having a common affiliation or purpose

creditable: respectable, deserving of praise

deranged: disordered, in a state of chaos or unrest

exigence: crisis, urgent situation

fluctuating: changing, switching

forwarded: advanced, helped on

hackney-coach: a four-wheeled carriage drawn by two horses and having seats for six...

(The entire section is 615 words.)

Chapters 47 and 48


affliction: a cause of continued pain or distress of body or mind

balm: something that brings comfort and relieves pain

blacken: to speak evil of

brittle: easily broken

capers: leaps, playful jumps

conclude: to bring to an end

condolence: an expression of sympathy in grief

decency: conformity to standards of taste and propriety

dilatory: slow, late

dispirited: discouraged, depressed

enormity: a thing of huge size or significance

exceptionable: objectionable, offensive, immoral

expeditiously: quickly

faculties: abilities, skills

fare: a price charged to transport something or someone from one place...

(The entire section is 794 words.)

Chapters 49 and 50


advance: to supply money before it is expected or due (in context)

airing: exposing or exercising in the open air especially to promote health or fitness

connubial: relating to marriage

copse: a coppice-wood, a grove of trees regularly cut down on a rotating basis to provide a constant supply of wood

creditors: those to whom money is owed

explicitly: expressed clearly with no vagueness

farthing: British a monetary unit equal in value to a fourth of a penny

frailty: a failing, a shortcoming

impassable: unable to be crossed

inconceivable: unthinkable, unimaginable

jealous: passionate in guarding (as in a possession)...

(The entire section is 576 words.)

Chapters 51 and 52


abominate: to hate intensely

austerity: sternness and coldness in manner

bribery: giving something valuable to influence someone toward a certain thought or action

cogent: convincing, compelling

compromised: exposed to discredit or suspicion

confidante: a trusted person with whom one shares confidential information

palatable: acceptable or agreeable to the mind

racked: agitated with trouble, stress, anxiety, doubt, or some unpleasant emotion

saucy: disrespectful; rude

sorely: painfully; extremely

stratagems: clever tricks or schemes used for gaining an end

unabashed: unashamed

Study Questions


(The entire section is 589 words.)

Chapters 53 and 54


confederacy: an alliance or banding together

covies: flocks of birds

dread: great anxiety; fear

forlorn: sad and lonely, often due to a loss

intervene: to occur between two things

irremediable: impossible to correct or fix

lustre: shine, gleam

privileged: having the honor or enjoyment of doing a certain task

rapacity: greed, ravenousness

speculation: gossip, rumors

twelvemonth: a year

wearisome: dull, boring

Study Questions

1. How much time has passed since the beginning of the novel, and how does the reader know?

It has been about a year since the beginning of the...

(The entire section is 356 words.)

Chapters 55 and 56


allurements: things that attract or charm someone

aspire: to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal

brooking: putting up with

confirmation: the act of assuring or upholding

constitute: to form or compose

dupe: one that is easily deceived by another

equipage: an elegant horse-drawn carriage

frankness: honesty in expressing facts, opinions, or feelings

induce: to influence or persuade

industriously: diligently, with constant activity and effort

ineffectual: not producing the desired result

intimidated: frightened

polluted: made unclean or impure

shades: curtains

shift: to manage by or for...

(The entire section is 734 words.)

Chapters 57 and 58


annexed: attached, added

closure: an act of closing or coming to a conclusion

conscious: perceiving, noticing

constancy: fidelity, loyalty

contrariwise: oppositely, conversely

illustrious: outstanding or famous because of dignity (as of birth, rank, possession) or because of achievements or actions

instantaneous: at this instant; immediately

irreproachable: blameless, faultless

irrevocably: permanently, without any possibility for change

pitched: turned one’s thoughts toward something or someone

pleasantry: a humorous act or remark; an agreeable playfulness in conversation

pointed: obvious, noticeable


(The entire section is 785 words.)

Chapters 59 and 60


disposing: transferring into new hands or to the control of someone else

epithet: a rude or abusive word or phrase

licence (license): formal permission from local authorities

pin-money: money allotted by a man to his wife, daughter, or sister for her personal expenses especially for clothes

recent: new, fresh

reserved: not open in communication

vehemence: intensity, forcefulness

Study Questions

1. Why does Elizabeth say, after sharing the news of her engagement with Jane, “this is a wretched beginning indeed!”?

Elizabeth is not looking forward to telling her family that she is about to marry the very man...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Chapter 61

Study Questions

1. Describe the fate of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and Kitty as described in the last chapter.

Mrs. Bennet is described as remaining as silly as ever; Mr. Bennet is described as missing Elizabeth so much that he often went to visit her at Pemberley—in keeping with his character, loving to visit “especially when he was least expected.” Kitty is described as showing great “improvement” after spending so much time with her well-mannered elder sisters.

2. What does Lydia ask for in the letter of congratulations she sends to Elizabeth? How does Elizabeth oblige her? What is the ultimate fate of Wickham and Lydia?

Lydia asks if Darcy might help...

(The entire section is 497 words.)

Multiple-Choice Test and Answer Key

1. Where is Netherfield Park?

A. Darbyshire

B. Hunsford

C. London

D. Hertfordshire

E. Brighton

2. Who are the two eldest daughters in the Bennet family?

A. Mary and Elizabeth

B. Jane and Mary

C. Elizabeth and Lydia

D. Kitty and Mary

E. Jane and Elizabeth

3. One of the gentlemen who attends the first ball that is described in the novel is rumored to have “ten thousand a year.” Which gentleman?

A. Wickham

B. Darcy

C. Sir William Lucas...

(The entire section is 1027 words.)

Essay Exam Questions With Answers

1. Describe how the novel’s title, Pride and Prejudice, relates to the reasons Darcy and Elizabeth misunderstand each other and to what takes place that allows them to overcome their misunderstanding. Include examples from the text in your essay.

The title of the novel relates to key characteristics—which could be described as faults—in its main characters. Mr. Darcy’s fault is pride, while Elizabeth’s fault is prejudice, an inclination to prejudge without access to fact or truth. Their individual faults create misunderstanding between them and make Elizabeth in particular blind to their potential for compatibility. It is only when Darcy admits his pride and overcomes it and Elizabeth clearly sees how...

(The entire section is 3506 words.)