Here is the passage:

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has long been upheld as an example of art that is perfectly executed on a narrow scale. It can be argued that Jane Austen’s famous comment comparing her writing to “a bit of ivory, two inches wide, on which I work” has been taken too seriously by many later readers who forget that Austen was also a master of irony. However, a critical appraisal of the final chapters of the novel suggest that while Austen’s scope might be wider than her claim suggests, her characters are desperately seeking to make their world ever more narrow. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy can hardly wait to retire to Pemberley, where they shut out not only the erring Lydia, but also annoying relatives and false friends. This constriction could be read as reasonable, but it must be contrasted with the obviously ridiculous injunction of Mr. Collins “to throw off your unworthy child for your affection forever.” Again, Austen’s irony is subtle here; while the ending seems to naturalize narrow and impenetrable boundaries, the earlier episodes question this move.


1. The author employs the metaphor in the second sentence in order to

A. suggest that novels ought to be viewed not just as literary texts, but material objects

B. suggest that Austen's claims about her writing and the actions of her characters should be viewed as entirely separate

C. draw on it throughout the passage as the primary description for understanding Austen's methodology

D. introduce a discussion of Austen's use of irony in her writing

E. contrast it to other metaphors Austen later used to describe her writing that were more ironic

Answer: D


1. Can you explain the reasons why all of the others are incorrect and why is this correct?

2. How “a bit of ivory” is a metaphor? What does this metaphor mean?

3. How the second sentence implies the introduction of a discussion of Austen’s use of irony?

4. Can you explain the last sentence of the passage and how it is derived and its implications, i.e. how “Austen’s irony is subtle here”?
Give us your thoughts on all of these questions yourself first. Consider the following.

1A. What does it mean to view a novel as a material object? Wouldn't that be just a book? A book has a size and color. It may be heavy. It may be light. You can count how many pages are in it. Is that what the passage is about?

1E. How many different metaphors that Austen used are found in this passage? If you only have one thing, can you contrast it?

2. Is a bit of ivory literally a piece of writing? What sorts of art works are made using ivory? How do these compare with life-size statues made of marble? How does difference in size enter into this contrast?

4. What is the meaning of subtle?

Can anyone help me with this one?
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.