Comparative Study of Jane Austens novel Pride and Prejudice and Fay Weldons novel Letters to Alice.

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Explore the ways in which changes in context lead to changed values being reflected in texts in P&P & LTA

Changes in context lead to changed values which are reflected in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice (P&P) and Fay Weldon’s 1984 novel Letters to Alice (LTA). Due to the differences in era of the texts creation, differing values can be seen through each text as the societies have changed through the creation of new laws, recognition of fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as modernising technology.

Weldon writes with the use of didacticism, humour and irony to convey her views towards her fictional niece, Alice. Weldon uses essays in the form of letters to convey her views and through her use of didacticism, instructs Alice on the best way to go about how to write her novel, how to deal with living with her parents, getting through her university course and advice on marriage and love. Using strongly drawn opinions, Weldon confidently argues what she thinks, wanting Alice to think it too. Protagonist Aunt Fay advises “Don’t type Alice, if you persist in your insane literary plan: use a pen. Develop the manual techniques on writing, so that as the mind works the hand moves. If God had meant us to type, we’d have a keyboard instead of fingers, etc.” This highlights Weldon’s humorous tone to convey her opinions and advice.

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Much like in LTA, Austen’s P&P acts as a commentary on society. Both novels provide instructions to their readers, though indirectly. Austen saw writing as an opportunity to teach others and like Weldon, believed that women should exceed the expectations of society and be independent. The differing contexts of the two novels reflect on the different values within the texts. As social norms have evolved, women have received a greater role within society; this includes their freedom and their changing reliance on men. This is most evident in LTA as Weldon lives in a world where women can work, be educated ...

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