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

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The Importance of Letters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice To reveal how useful the letters are in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, we need to look at the history behind letter writing. Jane Austen’s novel, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was written in 1813. The main form of communication then was by letters. However, they did not have a Central Postal system that we have today, where if you want to send a letter or parcel urgently then it could arrive within a few hours, instead they had their mail sent by Mail Coach. Although, you could send the mail by ‘express’, which was where you would pay an extra amount of money to have your mail sent faster, for example Mr Gardiner’s letter in chapter 44 was sent by express. There were no separate envelopes so letters were folded and the address would be written on the back, often they would seal it using wax. If the letter was private then the writer may have made an envelope which would be made from simply folding paper. In chapter 35 Darcy makes an envelope for his letter to Elizabeth because it is so long. Paper would have been extremely expensive in Jane Austen’s time, so to save paper the writer would write in the margins making sure they used up every space upon the paper. The letters would have been written using a pen made from a quill feather, which would have been sharpened to a point and dipped in ink. The lost original first version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was written in epistolary form and was called, ‘First Impressions’. Other eighteenth century authors wrote in this form. A twentieth century novel also written in epistolary form is, ‘The Color Purple’, Alice Walker. In total there are 40 letters either paraphrased or directly quoted in the novel ‘Pri... ... middle of paper ... ... knows that she will be distraught by the news, she writes,’ I am very, very sorry.’, and ‘ My dear Lizzy…’ She is being sympathetic and a true sister! Jane uses abbreviations for places and names that she knows Lizzy will understand, these are, ‘Mrs F.’ , ‘W.’ and ‘Colonel F.’ The letters reveal that Jane’s character is comforting, kind-hearted and considerate. I have learned that in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the letters are very useful because they move the plot along and introduce new storylines. They give secrecy between two characters and allow them to express their true feelings. The characters will find it much easier to reveal their thoughts more intimately in a letter then saying it in person. Most importantly they allow us to see what the letter reveals about the writers character and give us a better understanding for their actions and behaviour.
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