Pride and Prejudice

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A210 Approaching Literature

Pride and Prejudice

TMA 01

  1. How do the narrative techniques of ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ work at this point in the novel?
  2. How does this passage relate to the themes of the novel as a whole?

The first part of the passage is dialogic, in that it contains only conversation between Lydia and Mrs Bennet. Jane Austen, through the use of narrative techniques, gives the reader an in-depth understanding of the story. One of these techniques is ‘showing’, which with the use of dialogue, allows us to gain an understanding of the characters. The characters of Lydia and Mrs Bennet, through the use of dialogue in this passage, are ‘shown’ to be excessively concerned with the expectations of the society in which they live, by being obsessed with the importance of marriage. Lydia is passionate in her manner; this is ‘shown’ to the reader when she talks of getting husbands for her sisters, “They must all go to Brighton. That is the place to get husbands”. She is pleased with herself and even boastful in her ability of having secured a husband before any of her sisters. She puts him on a pedestal, ‘shown’ by the narrator, with statements such as “Is he not a charming man?” and “I am sure my sisters must all envy me”. Austen also ‘shows’ how eager both Lydia and her mother are about securing husbands for her sisters, with the use of this narrative technique of ‘showing’, using phrases such as “there will be some balls, and I will take care to get good partners for them all” (Lydia) and “I should like it beyond anything!” (Mrs Bennet).  This dialogic form of ‘showing’, allows us to view both characters during their conversation with each other, firmly establishing the characters and views of Mrs Bennet and Lydia. This ‘showing’, gives us a further insight into Elizabeth’s feelings and Lydia’s morals. When Lydia states “I will take care to get good partners for them all” Elizabeth replies “I thank you for my share of the favour, but I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands”. This immediately gives us a picture of Elizabeth’s more orthodox and moralistic views and portrays the contrasting opinions and morals between Elizabeth, and her mother and sister.  Moreover, this is confirmed during the last piece of dialogue in the passage, this time between Elizabeth and Lydia; Eager that ‘Lizzy’ should hear of her wedding, Lydia asked if she was “not curious to hear how it was managed?”  “No really,” replied Lizzy; “I think there cannot be too little mentioned on the subject”. This indifference ‘shown’ by Elizabeth with the use of Austen’s narrative, enables us to focus on her as having an important role in the story. She appears as having stability and moral values, amongst Lydia’s thoughtlessness towards the feelings of her family, and Mrs Bennet’s obsessiveness in procuring husbands for her daughters.

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In comparison, when the narrator (Austen) takes over and starts ‘telling’ us the story, and about the characters, she uses free indirect speech, giving the reader more of an insight into the characters and of their private thoughts or feelings. This narrative is directed to the reader, and includes such phrases as ‘Wickham’s affection for Lydia was just as Elizabeth had expected to find it; not equal to Lydia’s for him.” The character of Lydia doesn’t have this insight into her husband’s character due to the ‘naïve consciousness of the character and the knowing consciousness of the narrator’, (p.59 The ...

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