1. Are there resemblances between Martineau's temperament and experiences and those of other autobiographers you have read? Do you see parallels with Jane Carlyle, Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Bronte or Florence Nightingale?
  2. What were some unusual features of her childhood sensibility? How do you explain the relationship between her early fears and attractions and her later methodically intellectual pursuits?
  3. What seem to have been some causes of Martineau's childhood sense of guilt, remorse, and repression? What does she mean by her statement that her sense of justice was repeatedly offended by her environment?
  4. What effect does her mother seem to have had upon her life? Which of her other relationships were satisfying (such as those with her brother James and sister Rachel), and do these evince any common traits?
  5. What purpose does her childhood religion seem to have served in her emotional and intellectual life? With which other capacities and hopes was it linked?
  6. How do you account for her intense interest in the doctrine of "necessity"? What does she seem to mean by this? Can you see a relationship between her views and those of other social thinkers of the day?
  7. How do you explain the strident tone of the preface? Can you sense anything in her life which may have motivated Martineau's obsession with epistolary privacy?
  8. What does she claim are her motive in writing her autobiography, and how do these differ or compare with the motives of other autobiographers whose lives you have read?
  9. What seems to be her attitude in middle-age towards her former self? Does it strike you as an atypical response towards one's youth? Is she ever unduly harsh or lenient in her self-judgements?
  10. What were some of the prominent features of her education? To what extent did these hamper or aid in her develpment?
  11. What effect do you think Martineau's deafness may have had on her life? How does she respond to her handicap, and what does this response reveal about her characteristic patterns of thought?
  12. Are there early indications of her later political and economic opinions?
  13. How does Martineau describe her brief engagement? What seems to have motivated her opinions on love and marriage? (130-33) Which other prominent women writers/reformers of the time seem to have shared similar views?
  14. What are some features of Martineau's writing style?
  15. What seem to be Martineau's chief intellectual tastes and interests? To what extent were these affected by her Unitarian background?
  16. On balance, to what extent do you think this is an honest autobiography? Which aspects of her life and temperament does it foreground, and which does it ignore or repress?
  17. What does Martineau's autobiography reveal about the opportunities and constraints on the lives of early Victorian middle-class women?