Top Search Engine Questions Sent to Austenprose

David Bramber as the odious Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

One of the great things about being the admin to a blog is that you get to read all of the interesting (and sometimes hilarious) questions that people ask search engines – and then land on your blog.

If you are wondering what this means, when key words or phrases match material on your blog, it shows up in the search engine results and people come to visit to discover the answer. Now, sometimes it sends them to us just based on key words and not complete answers, so they may be disappointed, or intrigued to find something altogether unexpected. Here are a few humdingers that either made us laugh out loud or yell an answer into cyberspace.

Q: Is Emma Woodhouse a likeable character?

A: Wow. That is a loaded question! Many say NO. That she is a troublesome, bossy, snob and not likeable at ALL. But that is Austen’s point. Before publication she admitted to creating “a heroine whom no one but myself will like.” Of course that is her self-effacing joke. Emma Woodhouse certainly is annoying and self-serving throughout 90% of the novel, but it is revealed in a comical and moralistic manner that many (including ourselves) consider entertaining and scholars deem a masterpiece. So, no. Emma is not likeable, but that’s why we like her.

Q: What does Dowager Duchess mean?

A: Dowager appears to be in the same category of mysterious archaic English words like entail. It is a title given the widow of a Duke in British aristocracy. The most famous Dowager on the radar of Downton Abbey fans is no doubt Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

Q: Is fruitcake the same as Christmas pudding?

A: Heck no.

We do concede that both traditional English desserts share some similarities: butter, sugar, flour and dried fruit – but that is where it ends. Christmas pudding is a steamed cake and can be very dark, dense and sponge-like. It can have so much liquor in it that it flames when ignited before bringing it to the table. Fruit cake is a baked cake filled with fruits, nuts and liquor. Some recipes result in a sticky, gooey, dense brick. This may be why there is reputably only one fruitcake in the world and that it has been passed on to other family and friends and shipped around the world in continuum. Nasty rumor. We can attest that our fruitcake never lasts more than a week in our home.

Q: Does Elizabeth Bennet have pride?

A: No she is prejudiced. Mr. Darcy is proud. Wait. We can hear you all yelling at the screen. No, Mr. Darcy is prejudiced and Elizabeth is proud. It’s a source of constant debate among Janeites. Both characters exhibit both qualities. We’re just pitching my opinion.

Q: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies chapter summaries.

A: Really? *sigh* Are you asking this because your teacher is using P&P&Z in the classroom instead of P&P? Or, do you think that is the title of Jane Austen’s classic novel written in 1813? Either way, we are not helping you with your homework.

Q: Where is Mr. Knightley’s proposal?

A: Ha! Many have been looking for it for close to two hundred years. You obviously blinked during that part of the book.

Q: Parts where Catherine Morland is an idiot.

A: What? Who told you Catherine Morland is an idiot? Stop listening to your study partner. Let us paraphrase Henry Tilney and say “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good heroine, must be intolerably stupid.”

You have been misinformed. Catherine is not an idiot, she is just an inexperienced, naïve, and impressionable young lady of seventeen. If someone needs to be an idiot in Northanger Abbey, we will summarily point the finger at John Thorpe. Now there’s a young gentleman with more than a few loose screws.

Q: Is Hercule Poirot gay?

A: Who cares. He solves crimes using more gray matter in a day than the rest of use in a month, so he’s brilliant in our book.

Q: Is there a PBS series as great as Downton Abbey?

A: Yep – it’s called Pride and Prejudice – but, we are not heavily influenced by Jane Austen in the least.

Q: Does Emma Thompson play a role in Upstairs Downstairs season 2?

A: No, but we sure wish she did. She would have saved the series.

Q: Deep quotes from Pride and Prejudice.

A: As opposed to shallow quotes? Not saying.

Q: What type of audience would you give a presentation of Jane Austen to?

A: Besides the obvious Jane Austen fans, try a Friars club in Poughkeepsie. Everyone loves Jane Austen.

Q: Why Mr. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth?

A: Many have asked. If we told you, it would spoil the book for you.

Q: What does Elizabeth Bennet mean by the phrase “till this moment I never knew myself.”?

A: Another “if we told you it would spoil the book for you” answer. Here’s a hint. If we could all have a breakthrough moment every day like Lizzie Bennet does after reading Mr. Darcy’s “Be not alarmed, madam” letter, the world would be a much better place.

Q: Mr. Collins quotes.

A: Seriously? People really want to quote the odious one? We find this highly amusing and annoying at the same time, which was pretty much Austen’s point in creating one of the most toadious and tiresome comedic characters in literature.

We will end on that low note and ask you, gentle readers, how you would answer the Google search question presented today?


Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose  

24 thoughts on “Top Search Engine Questions Sent to Austenprose

Add yours

  1. Really informative and excellent post. I am going to print it and have it as a lovely reminder in my purse. Thank you for putting it all together, Laurel Ann. Have a lovely day.


  2. “Dowager” is an honorific given to widowed peeresses to distinguish them from their daughters-in-law. Nowadays the usage First name Lady Grantham is more usual, and a bit less fusty. The Granthams don’t have a Dukedom, merely an Earldom, so Dame Maggie is playing the Dowager Countess not the Dowager Duchess.


  3. Fruitcake can also be spotted at English weddings, the last I heard. Add some icing and decorations and you’ve got yourself a wedding cake.

    Hercule Poirot had a thing for the Countess Vera Rossakoff, a jewel thief. but he only mentions her briefly.


    1. Recently at work I was surprised by a student who needed P&P&Z for their literature class assignment. Whoa. Is this how teachers are now introducing student to P&P? If so, I have mixed feelings. I am sorry that their introduction will be filled with bone crunching zombies, and that will be what they remember. On the other hand, I am happy that they will know who Jane Austen is. Maybe in their adulthood, they might read one of her novels without zombies, vampires or sea serpents mashed in.


      1. I love using Collins’ quotes or any of Austen’s most absurd characters when trying to be ironic or amusing…


  4. My favorite part of Mr. Collins in 1995 P&P is when Lady Catherine interrupts him and he puts his hand to his chin and mouth with his thumb tucked in…. that is American Sign Language for “Bitch”….a coincidence?


  5. Love it! Seeing all the random search queries is one of my favorite parts about blogging, too. Many are, I fear, homework-related — as you noted — but some are just crazy amusing.


  6. Yes, Laurel Ann, the “search terms” are almost my favorite part of my blog.
    I’ll help out with the “Deep” quotes from Pride and Prejudice. Here’s what I found:

    “What say you, Mary? For you are a young lady of DEEP reflection…”
    “I hop you saw her petticoat, six inches DEEP in mud…”
    “It does not follow that a DEEP character is mor or less estimable…”
    They found Mary, as usual, DEEP in the study…
    Elizabeth was again DEEP in thought…


  7. The question listed above, which quotes Elizabeth Bennett: “till this moment, I never knew myself…”, implies so much!
    This is the one important detail that I feel the Andrew Davies “Pride & Prejudice” did not develop sufficiently.
    Nowhere in his script does Lizzie allude to her “shame” in this scene with Jane, and many viewers of the film may have simply taken the words, “knew myself”,to mean self-knowledge.
    What are your thoughts, Laurel Ann?


    1. Hi Barbara, this scene is a character arch for Elizabeth and I have interpreted her pronouncement to herself as an “ah ha” moment of self knowledge and realization of how she has been blinded by prejudice against Mr. Darcy. Please remind me what Davies did with it. Does it transpire in a scene with Jane instead of on a footpath of Rosings?

      It has always been my understanding that Elizabeth’s use of “knew myself” was self knowledge and understanding. When you read the text surrounding that statement it appears so. You obviously want to call me out on it and enlighten us all.


  8. How amusing! It is always interesting to find out what brings people to your blog.

    I have just written a comparison of Jane Austen’s biographies. Was wondering if you’d be able to recommend any good ones to add to my list?

    And could you send me a link if you have reviewed any of her biographies? Thanks,


  9. Q: Is there a PBS series as great as Downton Abbey?
    I thought Pride and Prejudice wasn’t a PBS series. It was an A&E series, no?


    1. Pride and Prejudice 1995 was not produced by PBS, but it did air on Masterpiece Classic in 2008.

      Is there a PBS series as great as Downton Abbey? Can’t answer that specifically since everyone has different taste. I have enjoyed many of the Masterpiece period drama over the years. I recommend Cranford.


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