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Letters in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Introduction

Pride and Prejudice is a romantic comedy novel by Jane Austen during the Regency era in England. It is a romantic story that follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, who is the dynamic character of the narration. She learns about the aftermaths of hasty judgments and notes the difference between superficial and essential goodness. The novel has for a long time dominated the list of most liked books among literary scholars and the general public. With nearly twenty million of the books sold, Pride and Prejudice ranks among the most popular novels and continues to inspire thousands of readers today. In the story, many of the letters by the characters play a vital role in the development of the storyline and themes of the novel (Arbain 129). The letters give the reader an insight into the real intentions which various characters have and how their personalities give the story a theme that otherwise could not have been depicted.

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Chapter 35 of the novel has got a letter written by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth; through the letter, Darcy’s message contributes significantly towards their attitudes towards each other. This letter plays a significant role in showing how communication can help individuals overcome their challenges. Caroline Bingley writes a letter to Jane Bennet informing her of their intention to vacate Netherfield (Austen 34). Mr. Collins also writes to Mr. Bennet regarding Lydia, his daughter, who is in an intimate relationship with Wickham, a rival to Mr. Darcy. The addition of the three letters to the novel brings a significant change to the tone, theme, plot, and characterization that defines the book and gives readers the urge to keep reading the novel.

As the novel progresses, Mr. Darcy tends to like Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Darcy sends a letter to Elizabeth; in the letter, Mr. Darcy explains why he split off his friend Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet (Austen 129). The letter is significant to the proposal that Darcy would later make to Elizabeth in volume 3. His bitterness is perhaps fueled by the fact that someone is rich and cannot cater to the poor’s needs. This, according to Darcy, is not an acceptable practice since society is expected to help those who are unfortunate in a way or the other. He feels that if he was in the same position, he could have helped. Through the letter, the readers can see the dissatisfaction level that the character has while penning down the letter.

The letter by Darcy to Elizabeth is crucial in this novel since the plot at this point is exclusively on Elizabeth’s marriage. Suppose the letter could not have been written, Elizabeth’s marriage life could have been significantly different, and Darcy’s changing character from pride to humility could not have been developed (Zhang 131). Caroline Bingley has also sent a series of letters within the novel; Caroline is Mr. Bingley’s sister. One of the letters by Caroline that perhaps is the most significant is the one that sticks with Jane and dents her marriage plans. In chapter 21, Jane’s letter from Caroline informs her of some tragic happenings. “I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my dearest friend.” (Austen 79). In this scenario, the tone of happiness of Jane has drastically dropped to that of frustration and sorrow.

Mr. Collin’s letter to the Bennet family is embarrassing and demeaning to the family of Mr. Bennet. A close review of the letter, the escape of Lydia from her family and friends to her lover, has irked the emotions of Mr. Bennet. However, he also seems to be delighted by the actions taken by Lydia. “My dear Sir, I feel myself called upon by our relationship, and my situation in life, to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering” (Austen 192). He continues by mentioning that their daughter’s demise was also a blessing that made him reflect. In the letter, Mr. Collins seems to be empathetic to the family of Bennet (Yu 679). However, his letter turns out to what he ever expected, and it is seen to demean the family of Mr. Bennet.

Mr. Collins writes the letter in sincere pursuit of love, but his proposal is turned down. Mr. Collins recalls a period when he was pursuing Mr. Bennet’s daughter’s hand in marriage. He was seeking a marriage partner and while managing Bennet’s estate since there was no man in the lineage of the Bennet family who they could rely on to run the estate (Zhang 130). After the rejection of Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Collin’s hand in marriage, the latter had no right to embarrass the family.

The Novel as a Whole

Pride and Prejudice is an old-fashioned romantic comedy; the story is about the consequences of the vices of the title of the narration and the significance of the virtues that counteract them. Elizabeth Bennet and the family are the main characters of the story; the men who came to their family, such as Mr. Darcy, also form part of the lead characters (Arbain 128). While the rest of the families in the narration have better income, the Bennet family is poor; it is for this reason that Mrs. Bennet urges her daughters to be married off as soon as possible so that they might get the comfort that comes with it.

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Elizabeth and her siblings meet Mr. Darcy and his friend Mr. Bingley at their local Netherfield Ball, and Elizabeth was fast to resent him. Their relationship is full of push and pulls throughout the narration (Yu 88). After Darcy’s true affections are revealed, Elizabeth is left confused and is regretting his actions of pride. The letters used in the narration have a lot of significance since they show the true personality of the characters and change the storyline and themes.

Conclusion

The novel Pride and Prejudice could have been different in plot and theme if letters could have been omitted from the narration. The letters from various characters to their designated persons of interest give the reader a glimpse of the feeling that a character had, which through the author’s narration alone could not have been noted. The feeling and confession of love between characters to the other are evident by the letters they write. After their proposal has been turned down, the feeling of a character can be seen from the letters they write; Mr. Collins is one such character in the novel whose marriage proposal did not go well and ends up writing an embarrassing letter to Bennett’s family.

References

Arbain, Arbain. “An analysis on the plot of Jane Austens novel “pride and prejudice””. lingua: Journal of Language, Literature and Teaching, vol 13, no. 1, 2016, p. 127. Center of Language and Culture Studies. Web.

Austen, Jane, 1775-1817. Pride and prejudice: an authoritative text, backgrounds and sources, criticism/Jane Austen; edited by Donald Gray. —3rd ed. p. cm.— (A Norton critical edition)

Yu, Xiaoping. “Character-Driven Theme Analysis in Pride And Prejudice”. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, vol 1, no. 5, 2010. Academy Publication. Web.

Zhang, Jinhua. “An Analysis of Pride and Prejudice from Structuralist Perspective”. English Language and Literature Studies, vol 10, no. 1, 2020, p. 86. Canadian Center of Science and Education. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Letters in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen." January 19, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/letters-in-pride-and-prejudice-by-jane-austen/.

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "Letters in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen." January 19, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/letters-in-pride-and-prejudice-by-jane-austen/.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Letters in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen'. 19 January.

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