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Letters In Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice

2860 words - 11 pages

Letters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is one of the great love stories of our time. Its
continued popularity shows that its essential story can still be
adapted to modern day life. Set in the 1800s, it tells the love story
of two people who gradually learn to understand each other and
themselves.

In the time that the novel is set, modern means of communication, for
example telephones and computers were not yet invented. The most
effective way of corresponding, especially over long distances, were
letters. In this period, when people met in formal circumstances, for
instance at a ball, where they were in company and never alone, they
could not express their inner thoughts. Letters provided a
confidential way to do this. This is also true to the novel; where
Jane Austen carefully composes the letters. There is more care and
attention paid to their structure and content; as letters are they are
a permanent record of thoughts that can be revisited and re-read, were
carefully crafted to provide the exact meaning of each letter. The
letters used in Pride and Prejudice shows us a glimpse of a
character’s personality and their viewpoint. They are a key feature of
conveying a new character and developing the plot. It is not an
accident that over forty letters or letter extracts are used in Pride
and Prejudice. They are an effective means of illuminating characters
where dwelling on individual reflections is not a style used much by
the author. Also we gain an insight into the recipient of the letter
through their response.

One of the first letters used in Pride and Prejudice to introduce a
new character is Mr Collins’ letter. This letter gives us our first
opportunity to assess his character. The letter is written to heal
past wounds; an apparent act to reconcile the rift between Mr Collins
father and Mr Bennet. The tone Mr Collins uses immediately suggests a
serious, aloof man who is self important, and this is reflected in his
style, where the points he makes are laboured and unclear. He does not
always use very specific language and his elaborate sentence structure
and lack of paragraphs underpin this impression.

“I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace
within the reach of my influence”.

This illustrates the long winded sentences that Mr Collins often uses.
Mr Collins mentions in his letter that he has recently been ordained;
this might suggest that this vocation requires humility, compassion
and understanding. However, in complete contrast to this, Mr Collins
seems to use it as an opportunity to elevate his status. The only time
does he appear to be servile is when mentioning Lady Catherine De
Bourgh,

“I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of
the Right Honourable Lady Catherine De Bourgh”

Mr Collins believes mentioning Lady Catherine De Bourgh would impress
the Bennet family and raise his status in their eyes....

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