Alright class, today we will be reading Pride and Prejudice, the (hastily checks computer) classic 19th century book by Jane Austen. In fact it has (eyes fixed to the screen) become…one of the most popular novels in English literature and…receives considerable attention from literary scholars. So uh…this is definitely worth the time and effort you spent reading the entire book for this week. No matter how busy you were this weekend, even if you had some really cool parties to go, and reading it would have meant staying up till 6 or some ungodly hour…I really do appreciate all you guys reading it.
So uh (flipping through the book), where to begin? Where to begin in this big ol’ novel? Where to begin…where to begin…well, how about that first sentence, right? Here, I might as well just read it: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” I mean, wow, that’s…that’s great stuff, isn’t it? So um, do you guys have some thoughts on that or…(ten second silence). No? Well, it’s certainly something to mull over.
I mean, how do you feel that line connects to the conversation that follows it among the Bennett family? (A student raises his hand and gives the obvious answer) Great, great answer. Who was that you mentioned at the end? Percy, Bessie? Oh, Darcy, Darcy, of course, that guy. Sorry, my hearing’s a bit off today. So what’s your opinion of Darcy? (A student begins to explain Darcy’s function in the novel) Sorry to interrupt, but could you give us the character’s context? You know, his relationship to the other characters and all that. I guess in its simplest terms what I’m asking you is “Who is Darcy?” In the abstract sense, of course, I mean obviously we all know who Darcy is (laughs unnaturally)…but, anyway, go on.
(The student gives an account of Darcy, which prompts a discussion that lasts a few minutes) Yeah, yeah, (looking absent-mindedly at the computer)…solid stuff. Could you expand at all on what you were saying about Mr. Holland and his attempted engagement to Lizzie? That sounded pretty interesting. Oh, right, sorry, I meant Mr. Collins. Mr. Holland? That sounds like some sort of absurd Dutch superhero, right? (Smiles and chuckles at the class and is met with a stony silence) Um, yeah, so…what do you think of Mr. Collins? What is his deal per se?
…Well, I guess we exhausted that topic. Not to worry, if there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about with this book it’s a lack of topics! Man, there are just so many topics to choose from, it’s hard to know where to go next. But…does anyone have a suggestion, or something that they feel we should discuss? Yes?
Hm, well that is a good question. Class definitely plays a distinct role in this novel. I mean, it’s all over the thing! Which…I guess is sort of what Austen is trying to do you know? You know whether it’s Collins or Darcy, or the Bennets, everyone is definitely of a particular class. And in that way it’s definitely reflecting something. Does that answer your question? (The student looks ahead blankly) Good.
Great discussion, guys. We do still, however, have 40 minutes left in class, so I was thinking that maybe we can discuss how much we feel what Austen is doing here relates to our lives today. Because I think that…we sometimes forget that in studying literature, you know? We get so caught up in the words, and the author…and the reading, or…wait (anxiously checks computer).
Does anyone have a Netflix account? Yeah, could you log in on this computer? I think watching this BBC adaptation that’s on instant streaming would be helpful for all of us. Plus, the guy from the King’s Speech is in it! Um so, yeah, as you watch, note how the BBC chooses to interpret those questions we talked about. Hey, could you turn the light off? No, no, all the lights, yeah, great. And I will be expecting an essay on how your interpretation differs two weeks from now…which should give me more than enough time…I mean give you more than enough time, to come up with something worth reading.