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Pride and Prejudice - Context
Test your knowledge of Pride and Prejudice in this quiz.

Pride and Prejudice - Context

This GCSE English Literature quiz challenges you on context in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. A text’s context refers to the specific environment in which it was written. Context thus includes the author’s political and social environment, along with the time and geographical location in which he or she was writing. This particular collection of influences might sound familiar to you. If so, the reason might be that these same elements within the text are discussed as “setting”. Setting refers to these aspects of a text’s created, fictional world, whereas context refers to these aspects of the author’s own world. Context inevitably has some impact on a fictional work, because authors do not live apart from the world, but are affected by political and social issues, as well as by historical events they have experienced. Personal beliefs also have an effect on the text, although discerning the impact might not always be easy.

How to write about context

It is usually a good idea to learn as much as you can about the context of a fictional work. Your efforts will help you to develop some insight into the important influences shaping the text. This is not to say that context dictates the meaning of a text. The influence can be subtle and the relationship between context and meaning is never simple and straightforward. Your knowledge of context can nevertheless provide some useful information to bear in mind as you analyse a text.

The context of Pride and Prejudice is interesting because so many of Austen’s characters are given similar circumstances to those in which she and members of her family lived. Sometimes readers find it very tempting to suggest that characters are based on “real-life” figures known to Austen. Of course, even where particular characteristics and personal circumstances have been fictionalised, it is most often the issues, society, and sometimes politics of Austen’s day which are the focus of her satirical fiction.

Research the context of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, remembering everything you have learned in English lessons, and try these questions to see how much you know about the context of the novel.

Which of the following is correct?
Pride and Prejudice was first published anonymously
Pride and Prejudice was first published under a female pseudonym
Pride and Prejudice was first published under a male pseudonym
Pride and Prejudice was first published under Jane Austen's own name
The original title page offers this identification: "by the Author of 'Sense and Sensibility'"
Austen was writing during which era?
The Elizabethan
The Restoration
The Regency
The Victorian
The "Regency" refers to the time during which George III's insanity left him unfit to rule the country; his son, who acted in his place as ruler, was known as the Prince Regent
When was Pride and Prejudice first published?
The novel was first published in January 1813, and is possibly a heavily revised version of an earlier unpublished work from the 1790s, First Impressions
Which of the following literary forms is associated with, and became very popular during, the eighteenth century?
Narrative poetry
The novel
The comic book
Jane Austen read widely, especially enjoying novels, which were a relatively new art form. Her heroine, Elizabeth, unwillingly draws attention to herself by her appreciation of books
Which of the following is correct?
Austen was never educated
Austen received some private tutoring and spent some time at boarding school
Austen was educated until the age of eighteen in her local school
Austen attended University at Oxford
Education for girls was a luxury even for a well-off family such as the Austens. Jane and her only sister received some private tuition and a single year at boarding school
What was the profession of Austen's father?
Having grown up in a Rectory, Austen would have met with many clergymen. Two of her brothers also were ordained. Does this knowledge affect your view of the fictional Mr Collins and his alternately fawning and pompous behaviour?
What wars were taking place in Europe at the time the novel was written?
The Hundred Years' War
The Thirty Years' War
The Napoleonic Wars
The Crimean War
Soldiers and officers feature in many of Austen's novels and are a disruptive presence in the fictional Meryton
In the novel, Mr Collins is given a "living" by Lady Catherine and Mr Wickham claims to have been cheated of a "living" by Mr Darcy. To which of the following does this term refer?
The inheritance promised to a clergyman
The land and money which a clergyman received as income to support his work in the church and parish
The house and its furnishings given to a clergyman as his permanent possession
An hourly rate paid to clergymen for their work in the church and the parish
A clergyman's income depended entirely on the wealth of the parish and on the goodwill of his patron. Wickham claims to have been promised a good living. Mr Collins panders shamelessly to Lady Catherine in the awareness that his financial well-being is entirely dependent on her. Austen's family would have depended on the living her father was given as a clergyman
How did Austen earn her living?
As an author
As a governess
As a teacher in a boarding school
She married a wealthy gentleman instead of earning a living
While her characters agonise over how a family of five daughters can survive unless the daughters marry well, Jane herself became a professional author. She was not entirely able to support herself, her mother and her sister through her writing, however, and they continued to depend on the generosity of male family members
Jane, her sister and her mother spent a few years without a permanent residence. What was the cause?
They lost their home through fire
Jane's father died
The family lost their home through debt
Jane's work as an author involved much travel
The women of the family had very little income and lived with friends and various family members for several years before finally settling in Chawton (through the help of one of Jane's brothers). Many unmarried women of this class led lives of insecurity in contrast to those who could rely on a father or a husband for financial support
Author:  Sheri Smith

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