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Discuss the Significance of Letters in 'Pride and Prejudice'.

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Introduction

Discuss the Significance of Letters in 'Pride and Prejudice' A significant feature of 'Pride and Prejudice' is the use of letters, which were the typical form of communication in the 19th century. The epistolary style was very popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Austen wrote two novels in epistolary form; Lady Susan and Elinor and Marianne. Austen uses letters to reveal character and as a method to introduce and advance the plot of the novel. The importance of letters is shown by the number of letters in 'Pride and Prejudice'; forty-three are in and referred to in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Austen cleverly uses letters to make connections between events and comparisons of viewpoints and personalities. Many of the letters in 'Pride and Prejudice' are followed by action and they are of immense significance to the plot. Letters give the reader the chance to narrate the story themselves as the author is not directly telling the plot. Through letters Austen reveals a great deal about contemporary society in the 19th century; they are a means of shaping character and showing happiness and sorrow. The letters tell us that that many judgements of people were made before actually knowing the person. The reader learns that marriage was an important concept in the nineteenth century and many families wanted their daughters to marry in to higher class. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that Austen uses letters to reveal character and advance plot. Another example of Austen using letters to further plot and reveal charter is when Jane writes to Elizabeth telling her about her stay in London. The letter tells the reader about the closeness of the two sisters' relationship. All of Jane's experiences of London are conveyed through this letter. Jane finally admits that she was right about the insincerity of Caroline Bingley's friendship, although, as usual, she makes excuses for her carelessness saying that "anxiety for her brother was the cause of it". Here, instead of giving us a long narrative about Jane's stay in London, Austen condenses her entire stay into a brief letter giving the reader an understandable picture. The letter from Elizabeth to her aunt, Mrs Gardiner, illustrates the close relationship between aunt and niece, as do many other letters in the rest of the novel. She relates that Mr Wickham's affections for her have subsided and have been transferred to another young lady, Miss. King, who had recently acquired 10,000 pounds. This also provides an important insight to his character. Elizabeth tells her aunt that she has "never been much in love" with Wickham and neither had he as he was hoping to marry Miss King. The reader gets the picture that Mrs Gardiner fills in the gap of a 'mother' for the Elizabeth, as she has an unintelligent mother. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mrs Gardiner concludes the letter stating that she is sure Darcy's actions are motivated by his love for Elizabeth, and relates to Elizabeth how much she thinks he would be a good match. It is now that Elizabeth realizes her true feelings for Darcy. She is sure however, that he would never marry her now and suffer through being Wickham's sister-in-law. Just through letters the reader is able to make clear judgements of the main characters. Letter writing is a serious business for characters like Darcy, Jane and Mr and Mrs Gardiner. Mr Bennet is a lethargic letter-writer; his letters are infrequent and short. Letters provide a way of distinguishing character. Mr Collins is recognised as a wild man from his first letter and his letters after Lydia's elopement show his self-centredness. Lydia's letters show the irresponsibility and selfishness of her character. The letters in 'Pride and Prejudice' show the feelings of characters as they are individual and the letters are directly talking to the reader. Without the letters a great deal of the plot would be lost because the reader would not get an insight of the characters feelings. The reader is able to make a personal judgement on each character without the authors intervening. Using letters is also an easy way of advancing plot, as the author does not have to go into excessive detail. Letters allow other places to come into the novel as they are not focused in one place. Zohra Farooq 10 Mars 07/12/02 - 1 - ...read more.

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