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'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen as my pre-1914 novel and 'Bridget Jones's Diary' by Helen Fielding as my post-1914 novel. The main focus of my comparison, will be 'Women's social depiction' .

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Introduction

Wider Reading GCSE Assignment For my wider reading assignment for GCSE, I have chosen the novel 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen as my pre-1914 novel and 'Bridget Jones's Diary' by Helen Fielding as my post-1914 novel. The main focus of my comparison, will be 'Women's social depiction' . The reason for my choice of novels, relating to my topic, is fairly simple. Both novels have a heroine as the main subject, both are centred very much around this one heroine, and both go into great detail about the heroine and her state of mind in various points throughout each novel. This, of course, is necessary, as the subject of my comparisons will be the heroines, and how they are represented. The novel 'Pride and Prejudice' is very well known, and is considered one of Jane Austen's finest pieces of writing, a classic in every way. So when I chose this book, I had a fair idea of what to expect. Before hand, all I knew of this novel, was that it was a love story, with an unexpected twist. So going into the book, I had some fairly prejudiced notions, knowing that it was a romance story, I was expecting a drawn-out tale of 'young love' with plenty of angst and picturesque scenes. Similarly, I also knew that 'Bridget Jones's diary' was a romantic and humorous novel that also contained feminist themes. Judging from the genre, I thought that this book would contain lots of 'lovey-dovey' scenes, and plenty of cracks at men. I knew that the main genre for both novels was romance, so I was expecting both to contain more or less the same plot with only minor adaptations to the story so that they could be called 'original'. The whole 'romantic' genre is generally considered to be one aimed at women, and this opinion may be held partly responsible for the stereotyping of all women as being 'hopelessly romantic'. ...read more.

Middle

Jane Austen achieves this by making sure that Elizabeth is described using soft toned words like 'elegant' and 'gracefully' and by giving her a very positive attitude. She also builds on Elizabeth's character through the words of other characters in the book. Her sisters comment they have never heard her 'speak ill of another person' in her whole life. Even her casual acquaintances say she is 'quite the most talented girl... I have met'. We are also made to sympathise with her, through her problems with Darcy. It begins when he insults her, and this is designed to make the reader feel that bit closer to Elizabeth, as we distance ourselves from Darcy. Every aspect of Elizabeth Bennet is written to make her a very pleasant character to read about. Descriptive words are chosen with care when describing her, soft tones and elegant words are used, which is designed to make Elizabeth seem more like the words used. Situations that she is placed in are also geared to have similar effect, when she is criticised by other characters, the reader feels closer to Elizabeth, and distances him/herself from the protagonist. On the other hand, Bridget Jones is shown to be a completely different person. She is portrayed as a heavy smoker (only when she is depressed... which is quite often), and she drinks a lot. We also see that she finds it hard to keep promises and is quite irresponsible. The first thing in the novel, is Bridget's list of New Year Resolutions, but already by her first diary entry she has already broken some of her resolutions, by drinking her 'weekly allowance of 14 alcohol units' in one day, but makes the excuse that it is alright because four hours of her drinking 'binge' was on a different day. The reader also learns that Bridget is incredibly sarcastic, but only in her mind. ...read more.

Conclusion

But a modern heroine can be depicted as many things. Of course, the 'Elizabeth Bennet' style heroine is popular as always, but a new brand of heroine is also emerging, a heroine who does not have to be the perfect woman. I think this reflects the way society today has changed to be more accepting and less judgmental. In the future, we may see a more radical change in the style of heroine, the 'anti-heroine' is quickly becoming popular amongst readers, and may soon gain widespread popularity in the near future. In conclusion, I would say that both books are creations of genius, and both impart an important message to the reader. Both books show the reader that happiness takes importance over all the trivial details of everyday life. Jane Austen teaches us that life is not just about how far you can get, it isn't about titles, money or social status. 'Pride and Prejudice' shows the reader that some things are more important, in her words 'happiness is worth reaching for, no matter what'. I found 'Pride and Prejudice' to be an interesting, if complicating, novel that enlightened me greatly on the topic of happiness 'and how it might best be achieved'. Austen writes in an involving fashion, and creates characters that are easily liked to draw the reader in. Helen Fielding also writes about the same topic, if in a different way. 'Bridget Jones's Diary' may seem to be a 'girly' book, but it is really very interesting, and is an intelligent piece of comical writing with an edge of satire. Helen Fielding creates characters that the reader can easily identify with, and keeps the reader interested with a twisting plot line and comical situations. Overall, I would recommend 'Bridget Jones's Diary' to most readers as a good laugh, with an important sub-textual message that happiness is what you make it. 'Pride and Prejudice' would also come recommended, but only to more advanced readers, as the language is complex and the underlying message is well hidden. Still, I think both books teach the reader something important and are both worth reading. ...read more.

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