Explain what new insights and understanding you have gained about the effects of context and questions of value through your comparative study

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Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice on First reading Jane Austen, encourages an enhanced understanding of the values and contemporary issues of Jane Austen’s cultural context through the didactic literary form of an epistolary novel. This textual form it inspires modern readers to appreciate the difficulty of some of the characters and the values evident in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Through the addition of important information about Austen’s context: Regnancy England. Weldon’s discussion about values such as marriage, social class and the role and expectations of women within society changes a readers perspective of the themes and morals therefore changing their perceptions of events and enhancing their understanding of Pride and Prejudice.

Weldon does two very important things in Letters to Alice. Firstly, she thoroughly contextualises Austen’s time. Not only does Weldon give the 21st Century audience a very good understanding of Austen’s time, she also makes it incredibly understandable for the modern reader. Weldon provides readers with most of the important and crucial information, which is essential in order to understand and therefore appreciate the values in Pride and Prejudice. An example of this is Weldon’s explanation of Mrs Bennet’s ridiculous behaviour in relation to the importance of marriage: a common theme throughout P &P. As a modern audience, we question the notion of needing to be married because in our society today, marriage is not the only way for a woman to secure her future success. Austen proves the seriousness of this issue through Mrs Bennet. As we read Pride and Prejudice for the first time, we perceive Mrs Bennet as a foolish woman with no sense of priority, whose only concern is to marry her daughters...

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...she brought intelligence, vigour and honesty.” Through this, the responder is persuaded to adopt a new understanding of why Austen explores and criticises social class in her novel. On a second reading of the novel, the effect of this is that the responder is able to recognise that Austen through Elizabeth is attempting to expose the flaws and superficial nature of class divisions, and therefore personal traits such as intelligence and honesty are successful over the established conventions of class within society.

In Pride and Prejudice, certain values are understood by considering the context. However, Letters to Alice explore these values in depth as Fay Weldon has provided evidence to support her view. In both novels, similarities can be made about the world of women, which is established through similar values, which includes: marriage and self-actualisation.

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