Jane Austen 's `` Pride And Prejudice `` Essay

Jane Austen 's `` Pride And Prejudice `` Essay

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Fay Weldon’s monologic epistolic novel Letters to Alice on First reading Jane Austen provides a heightened understanding of the values in Jane Austen’s seminal classic Pride and Prejudice. Through creative reshaping of the core values of the middle class in 19th century in Pride and Prejudice, Weldon supplements Austen’s novel and modifies it in a contemporary light. By studying these two novels in reference to each other, the reader gains an understanding that cannot be found in one novel alone.

Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, is set in the early 19th century in England and is focused on the upper-middle class Bennett family. The main character, Elizabeth, is intelligent and witty, but quick to judge and stubborn. Although her own life is circumscribed by societal expectations of women, Elizabeth herself is prejudiced about how others should behave. She is a complex character and the novel traces her journey of self discovery when it pits her against another complex character, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

One of the key values of Pride and Prejudice is marriage. Few women at the time had an income, and they weren’t able to inherit, so marriage was the only way to gain financial security. Women’s lives were focused around attracting a husband so they cultivated qualities that were seen to be desirable in a wife - ladylike activities like drawing, singing, dancing and music.

Austen paints the family matriarch, Mrs Bennett, in particular, as overly invested in her daughters’ courtships, to the point of ridicule. Mrs Bennett’s raison d’être is to have her five daughters married off - even if that marriage, like Lydia’s to Mr Wickham, is doomed from the start.

To a modern reader, from a post-feminist perspective, the focus on ...

... middle of paper ...

...ells Alice, Elizabeth challenged the traditional value system of gender. ‘She left a legacy for the future to be built on’ writes Aunt Fay - a future that Alice has benefited from.

Weldon uses irony to illustrate her meaning - Alice, like Elizabeth, ignores the ‘rules’ that Aunt Fay dictates, yet still ends up more successful as a novelist. The character of Alice proves the very point of challenging principles of behaviour.

Both Letters To Alice and Pride and Prejudice critique and investigate the position of women in society.

Through reading Letters TO Alice in reference to Pride and Prejudice, the reader is able to understand the values of the time periods and enhance theIR understanding of the value of women in society in Austen’s time. Weldon highlights the values that readers may have missed in Pride and Prejudice - marriage, non conformity and moral conduct.

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