Letters To Alice

Submitted By softnut
Words: 995
Pages: 4

Through the didactic literary form of an epistolic novel, Fay Weldon’s text “Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen.” Serves to encourage a heightened understanding of the values and contemporary issues read in “Pride and Prejudice” written by Jane Austen of the cultural context. In doing so, it inspires the modern day reader to adopt more holistic appreciation for the plight of the characters and the values inherited in Austen’s novel. Through the inclusion of relevant contextual information from Austen time and didactic assertion of the fictional character Aunt Fay, Weldon implores the responder to accept her opinions on the values and issues of Austen’s context. Fay Weldon discusses these, which include: marriage, education and role and expectations of women within society, transforms a modern responders understanding of themes and morals explored in Pride and Prejudice. It alters the way in which the reader perceives to the events and decisions of the characters within the novel.
The importance and value associated to marriage in the context of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice is reinforced through Fay Weldon’s discussion of the options for women outside of marriage, and how it provided financial security for women rather than the purpose of love. Hence why we see Charlotte Lucas marrying Mr Collins although she finds his company “irksome.” She accepts Mr Collins hand “solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment.” Austen uses the marriages in Pride and Prejudice to determine the nature of a perfect marriage and “expose and satirise the values of that time.” the ‘perfect marriage’ is seen in the union of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy because they respect and love each other, they are of the same intellect, have economic security and of high social status, as Elizabeth’s is a “daughter of a gentleman.”
Weldon assists the responder to comprehend the significance of marriage She contrasts the Georgian women against the modern woman to evoke a sense of empathy. Through emotive language “women were born poor, and stayed poor, and lived well only by their husband’s favour.” Thereby, Weldon focuses on the contextual advantages of marriage in Austen’s time, in order to create a greater understanding of the connections that tie Regency martial practices to modern customs.
Women in Jane Austen’s time were excluded from most professions except for writing and teaching, they had no right to neither own a business nor hold any property once married. Women received less education than males because it was considered more important for them to learn ‘accomplishments’ such as embroidery and music rather than academic subjects. “A thorough knowledge of music, signing, drawing, dancing and the modern language.”
Weldon reshapes the values of education by connecting the modern woman with those of the Georgian era. She makes a bleak comment to Alice that the value of education in modern day society has become increasingly passive and steadily decreasing in quality. “You lulled yourself to sleep by visions of violence.” Aunt Fay urges Alice to take on opportunities around her that were not available to women in Austen’s times bound by social restrictions. Weldon uses hyperbolic descriptions to reinforce the value of literature within society. “It is the very essence of civilization.” Weldon uses didactic tone to not only convince Alice, but to her responders that these problems require a broader understanding, and experience of “new” and “old” ways to shape one’s ability to endure them. This can be achieved through exposure to literature of contexts “to…understand yourself…must have knowledge of the past.” Metaphorically she asks Alice to visit the “City of Invention,” read the ‘classics’ such as “Jane Austen” and “learn…between right and wrong.” To expand her knowledge on the world. Weldon acts as an advocate for women to take advantage of the available education to thereby gain