The Importance of Jane Austen's Letters in Pride and Prejudice

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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 th...

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...oine: Reading About Women in Novels. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1984. 81-134.

Cohen, Paula, Marantz. "Jane Austen’s Rejection of Rousseau: A Novelistic and Feminist Initiation." Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature 30.3 (1994): 215-234.

Fein, Ellen and Schneider, Sherrie. The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right. New York: Warner Books, 1995.

Fowler, Marian, E. "The Feminist Bias of Pride and Prejudice." Dalhousie Review 57 (1977): 47-64.

Kaminer, Wendy. "Feminism’s Third Wave: What Do Young Women Want?" The New York Times Book Review 4 June 1995: 3+.

Menand, Louis. "What Jane Austen Doesn’t Tell Us." New York Review of Books 43.2 1 Feb. 1996: 13-15.

Newman, Karen. "Can This Marriage be Saved: Jane Austen Makes Sense of an Ending." ELH 50.4 (1983): 693-710.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the content of the letter as the truth, she folds it up and puts it.
  • Opines that they were kept back by their own doubts, fearing lest it happen.
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