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Jane Austen's use of letters in 'Pride and Prejudice' The epistolary novel was once a prevalent literacy technique

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  • Essay length: 2982 words
  • Submitted: 22/02/2006
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GCSE Jane Austen

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Jane Austen's use of letters in 'Pride and Prejudice'

The epistolary novel was once a prevalent literacy technique, particularly in the 18th century, but is now neglected by most authors. It is a novel in which the plot is identified, furthered and resolved entirely by means of letters sent between characters. Epistolary novels transpired at a time when the popularity of literacy was mounting. They satisfied the reader's requirement for stories that represented mundane incidents and provided ethical guidance in a rapidly shifting society. Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' is an adaptation of the epistolary novel, and frequently uses letters sent between characters to identify, further and resolve the plot. A great advantage of this epistolary style of writing is that it presents an intimate scrutiny of a character's thoughts without the intervention of authorial comments and direction. Thus the reader is able to form his/her own opinion of characters and events.

Not only does the use of letters offer a diverse structure for a novel (as oppose to dialogue or direct narrative) but it is also a practical means of furthering the plot, allowing the reader to make connections between characters and events:

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