Chem: Jane Austen and Letters Essay example

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Discuss the Significance of Letters in 'Pride and Prejudice'

A significant feature of 'Pride and Prejudice' is the use of letters, which were the typical form of communication in the 19th century. The epistolary style was very popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Austen wrote two novels in epistolary form; Lady Susan and Elinor and Marianne. Austen uses letters to reveal character and as a method to introduce and advance the plot of the novel. The importance of letters is shown by the number of letters in 'Pride and Prejudice'; forty-three are in and referred to in 'Pride and Prejudice'.

Austen cleverly uses letters to make connections between events and comparisons of viewpoints and personalities. Many of the letters in 'Pride and Prejudice' are followed by action and they are of immense significance to the plot. Letters give the reader the chance to narrate the story themselves as the author is not directly telling the plot. Through letters Austen reveals a great deal about contemporary society in the 19th century; they are a means of shaping character and showing happiness and sorrow. The letters tell us that that many judgements of people were made before actually knowing the person. The reader learns that marriage was an important concept in the nineteenth century and many families wanted their daughters to marry in to higher class. The higher classes earned their money through trade and industry. Wealth was important in the nineteenth century and many people considered wives as an extension to property, in social and personal…