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Show the importance of Jane Austen's letters in

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Introduction

Show the importance of Jane Austen's letters in "Pride and Prejudice" In Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" letters are used to indicate a change in direction of the plot or to form narrative crisis points. Jane Austen successfully weaves her letters into the natural narrative of the dialogue and description. It is suggested that Jane Austen developed her epistolary mode of writing from many other 18th Century authors such as Samuel Richardson, whose novels are written completely in the form of letters. In the 18th century letters were an important form of communication for characters such as Jane, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; who write with assiduousness and diligence. Through letters these characters convey their hidden emotions, apprehensions and convictions. This is a great contrast to characters such as Lydia and Mr. Collins whose letters reflect their own ludicrous personalities. For example Lydia's letter to Harriet concerning her elopement with Mr. Wickham confirms previous convictions of her vulgar, and indiscrete traits. Although each of the characters write for different motives and with individual approaches, each letter reflects the personality of their scribe and contributes to the movement of the narrative, as letters are followed by action, whether inward or outward, and are thus pivotal contributions to the plot. Darcy's letter to Elizabeth is perhaps the most influential letter in the novel. It is written to Elizabeth during her stay with Mr. and Mrs. Collins at Hunsford near Rosings Park. Darcy writes this after his initial proposal, which Elizabeth brutally rebuffs. It explains his past dealings with Wickham and the extent to which he was involved with the separation of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. It represents a change in Darcy's character and causes a change in Elizabeth's. Previously he has appeared to be haughty and reticent in his actions towards Elizabeth, for example his reluctance to dance with her at their first assembly. However throughout this letter he shows a compassion for Elizabeth's feelings and it is evident that he cares for her very much. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth expects him to be arrogant and unrelenting almost to the point that she would have been disappointed to discover sincere apologies, she is so suspecting of his character that if this was what she had received she would have rather believed them to be false than to admit that he was genuinely sorry. The letter induces a chaos of emotions for her. She is reluctant to believe any of the content, yet she finds it impossible to ignore his details and facts, which clearly proclaim that it is the truth. "Her feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. She wished to discredit it entirely repeatedly exclaiming, "This must be false! This cannot be! This must be the grossest falsehood!"" She finds Darcy's account of Mr. Wickham scandalous. The detail of the situations, Wickham's dealings with Georgiana Darcy, gives the account credibility, for no brother so dearly devoted would wish to shame and ridicule his sister without due cause. Elizabeth cannot challenge the truth of the report, and is left to deal with her own bewildered judgments. "She could bring no proof of its injustice" Despite her initial intense dislike for Darcy, and her previous feelings of adoration for Wickham, she cannot fault such an accurate, ingenuous description. Darcy's account is perceptibly clearer and contains meticulous evidence to credit it, as Elizabeth tries to recall Mr. Wickham's account " She could remember no more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood". Elizabeth's next feelings were of self-disgust, she had been prejudiced, blind and partial to the truth. Even more mortifying was the fact that she has previously prided herself on her ability to judge characters well, without being blinded by chauvinism. "I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself." ...read more.

Conclusion

Subsequent to this final letter Mr. Collins' role in the novel is small, though not a large character throughout the novel he provides humour through his absurdities, and he is as much presented in his letters as in person. In conclusion Jane Austen interlaces letters into the natural narrative of the plot to effectively push it forward or to give a clearer character definition for the reader. Whilst the two letters I have discussed have mainly been showing a change in character trait, an example of letters that directly move forward the plot would be Jane's letters to Elizabeth during her stay in Lambton. Elizabeth and Darcy are just becoming better acquainted when Elizabeth receives news from Jane concerning Lydia's elopement with Wickham. Whilst these letters do not make Jane's character more palpable, they do cause Elizabeth to take immediate action. Mr. Darcy encounters Elizabeth directly after she reads the letters, and discovers her to have a "pale face and impetuous manner". He then takes control of the situation, and cares for Elizabeth, making it evident to the reader how their relationship has developed. This letter causes Darcy to be ashamed of his concealing Mr. Wickham's actions, as if he had made them public knowledge he could have prevented the situation. It also causes Elizabeth's hopes of a relationship with Darcy to be dashed as she is convinced that Mr. Darcy would no longer associate with such a disgraceful family. However overall the incident brings Darcy and Elizabeth closer together, because it proves to them both how much they care for one another. Despite the fact that letters had to be used in Jane Austen's times as a form of communication, She manages to manipulate them to an almost magical effect, each one is carefully placed and the effect on the reader measured to ensure that the desired response will be received. They add another dimension to her novel, as her epistolary mode of writing helps the reader to feel actively involved in the characters lives. 1 Nicola Vousden 11Ol ...read more.

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