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Narrative Perspecitve And Voice In Jane Austin's Pride And Prejudice And George Elliot's Middlemarch

1966 words - 8 pages

Narrative perspective and voice is a major aspect of a novella as Jeremy Hawthorn suggests in Studying the Novel, “[s]ource and medium affect the selection, the authority and the attitude towards what is recounted of the narrative” The narrative perspective can be used to shape or in some cases mis-shape the story. Looking at both Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the narrators of these novellas hold a quality of influence over the reader. Through comparing and contrasting how the two different authors have used the narrative perspective to develop their novels, through voice, linguistic register, free indirect discourse and narrative distance in respect to the intimacy of the information shared with the reader.

Looking at both Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the point of view otherwise known as perspective and voice, do contrast one another. Perspective and voice are defined by Hawthorn, as the views of the characters and events in the novella are relatable by human experience, which in turn makes the novella more realistic . Pride and Prejudice can be seen in this light as the narrator explains events as the plot unfolds. In this line of thinking the voice can be interrupted as third person semi-omniscient, but the perspective is mainly Elizabeth Bennett. The use of a semi-omniscient voice works well as information is not so readily disclosed to the reader. Within Middlemarch the voice would be third-person omniscient as the narrator knows all and discloses this information, but the perspective would predominantly be Dorothea, Lydgate and the narrative. Through the narrative, the reader discovers information before the other characters within the novella. As Hawthorn reasons no human being would know all the information the narrator discloses in regards to the characters . However through the use of “mini-narrative” and shifting narrative viewpoint; Terry Eagleton suggests this “reveals how… human egos or social worlds grasp the world in their… distinctive way” to share a common reality . Using the idea of society intertwining with each person doing what they can to survive; actually contradicts Hawthorns point as this idea adds to the realist element of the novella, showing human nature and the survival instinct.

In Pride and Prejudice the narrator occasionally encounters an intrusion of other voices, an example is the opening line, “[i]t is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” . The intrusion of Mrs Bennett’s belief sets the tone and opinions of the novella. However there are also narrative intrusions showing both Austen’s moral message and also creating a satirical tone. The moral message is discussed in Terry Eagleton’s The English Novel, where he discusses Austen’s use of realism to portray a moral message through good social conduct, quick sympathies and good parenting to achieve accomplishments....

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