Pride & Prejudice is a Romantic novel written by Jane Austen in 1813. In this novel, Jane mainly employed epistolary style in her novel which is the literary technique of using letters to enhance the communication of the characters. The use of this style had some importance as illustrated below;
The letters have been used to advance the plot of the novel. This has been done by avoiding use of conversations and instead replacing them with letters. The characters speak to the reader who is thereby able to deduce a minute point of view of what is going on. Only the view the writer (of the letter) is portrayed (Austen, 2011). In the first letter by Mr. Collins in which he which announces his arrival, his role in the plot is revealed. Roles of other players in the plot have also been anticipated by several letters and their replies.
Letters have been used to display the characters and personalities of various people. By reading the letters written by different one person, it was able to analyze his or her characteristics and behaviors. For instance, after reading and analyzing all the letters written to her by her sister Jane, Elizabeth was very furious at the thought of her sister being mistreated by her husband. This therefore depicts the situation that Jane is going through. Her letters indicate that she is very unhappy where she is to the extent that it makes Elizabeth very angry at Jane’s husband. Jane’s feelings and character is displayed through the letters.
A look at the letters of Mr. Collins depicts the subject of pride. Throughout his letters, his pride and haughtiness is clearly portrayed. His coldness and competition can be seen throughout his letters. His foolish and character is also revealed in a letter that he wrote to Mr. Bennet. This letter expressed his sentiments on the elopement of Lydia with Wickham. In his letter, Collins advised Bennet his family to detach themselves from Lydia expresses his joy for not Marrying Elizabeth. At a time when everyone was in panic and worried about the whereabouts of Lydia with Wickham, Collins did not show any grief. His letters therefore portrays his foolish nature. Lydia’s is viewed as reckless and self centred. This is because her actions puts her family into agony while searching for her and also threatens to ruin her family’s image and reputation
Jane’s character is displayed when she wrote to her sister Elizabeth to inform her about her stay in London. Instead of narrating Jane’s entire stay and experiences in London, the writer summarizes all this in the letter that Jane wrote to Elizabeth. This letter enables the reader to clearly understand Jane’s feelings and about the people she was staying with and the general experience enables the reader to understand her character and personality.
The letters in this novel have also been used to illustrate the relations in social institutions such as family. This is evident when Elizabeth writes severally to her aunt, depicting the closeness between a niece and an aunt. This is evident in many families even today. In her letters, Elizabeth shares pressing matters to her aunt. Elizabeth’s aunt turns out to be more of a motherly figure to her than her actual mothers. This is depicted by her constantly writing to her, with the letters carrying very intense information. Through Elizabeth’s letter to her aunt, the reader is able to figure out Mr. Mr. Wickhams’ character. Elizabeth in her letter indicates that Mr. Wickhams’ love for her had diminished and instead been shifted to another young woman, Miss. King, who had recently acquired 10,000 pounds. The reader is therefore able to conclude that Wickham had love for money.
In letters written by Darcy to Elizabeth, Darcy’s character and persona is clearly elaborated. He begins the letter in a polite note by requesting Elizabeth to be calm while reading the letter. He then goes ahead to admit to the accusations of Separating Jane, Elizabeth’s sister and Mr. Bingley. He gives his reasons and motives for his actions. However, he acknowledges that he could have been wrong in his decisions. He then moves on to the second accusation, which he clarifies his innocence. This outlays his character as an honest, well planned man. This letter also creates a turn in events as we see Elizabeth reconsidering his previous thoughts and feelings towards Darcy. The letters have also been used to showcase the difference in education and social status among the characters.
In conclusion, all letters used in this novel contributed to the narrative and clearly reflect on the times when letters were a major means of communication. They display the drama of presumption, whereby letters are followed by action. This makes them critical contributions to the plot. The letters enhance the beauty of the novel and make it more interesting. These letters are therefore an important part of the novel. The letters have also generally been used to create a turn in events throughout the whole novel. This means that events and actions of the characters were mostly determined by the information they received from the letters written to them. By reading the letter written by one person and the reply by the correspondent person, the reader is able to establish the characters and personality of the two characters.
Austen, J. (2011). Jane Austen’s letters. Oxford University Press