An important feature of Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” is the utilization of letters, which were the prevalent form of communication in the nineteenth century. “The novel is packed with correspondence, with forty-four letters referred to, and eighteen of those either heavily quoted from or given in full” (Fullerton 46). Letters are used as a dramatic device in the novel to advance the plot, uncover character and benefit in the composition of theme in “Pride and Prejudice.”
Through the use of letters, and discussions about letters, Austen creates an intriguing plot. “Letters of invitation, letters of thanks, begging letters and those full of explanation, letters announcing dramatic events and letters of congratulation fill many pages of “Pride and Prejudice” (Fullerton 46) such as the invitation to the Netherfield ball, Mr. Collins proposal to visit, how the Bingleys are leaving for London and Lydia’s elopement. However, the climax in “Pride and Prejudice” is Darcy’s famous letter to Elizabeth, the “faithful narrative of every event in which we have been concerned together” (Austen 133) because Darcy confesses to his part in “detaching” (Austen 132) Bingley from Jane and shares his history with Wickham. After reading
this letter, “it is as if walls have fallen and the love story can proceed unhindered” (Kassie). Letters being sent and received by character, function as a contraption for Jane Austen to forward the plot.
The letters in Pride and Prejudice provide insights into character’s feelings and contemplations. It is said that, “The true art of letter writing is not simply a communicative technique. It is also a complex experience of feeling and insights, through which individual perception and h...
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...nd therefore they themselves become better people” (Austen vii). This letter expresses the theme and can be viewed as the turning point of the novel.
In Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” letters function to advance the plot, inform readers of character’s personalities and expose the theme of pride and prejudice. Austen declares the importance of letters by explaining,
Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the post was expected. The arrival of letters was the first grand object of every morning’s impatience. Through letters, whatever of good or bad was to be told would be communicated, and every succeeding day was expected to bring some news of importance (Austen 192).
In “Pride and Prejudice,” letters serve as both a mode of explanation by the writer and a method of connection by Jane Austen.
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