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Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice: On first reading Jane Austen- Connections between texts

Upon exploration, the similarities and differences between texts can further our understanding of the different contexts and content.

Lachlan Cracknell

on 3 September 2012

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Transcript of Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice: On first reading Jane Austen- Connections between texts

-Class divisions defined by personal status and wealth.
-Social advancement for men lay mainly in law, the church, or military.
-Social advancement for women lay in acquisition of wealth through marriage.
Pride and Prejudice -Set in the 1980's.
-Post feminist movement (Experiencing backlash).
-Women have more rights, can acquire jobs etc.
-Many more forms of writing as entertainment/ as well as for teaching.
-Letter form. Letters to Alice Values and Context The different contexts of the two novels influence the characters' views on marriage After the feminist movement in the 80's, women had more rights and access to a steady source of income through work. Men were becoming LESS dominant, and therefore marriage is less necessary for financial security... Unlike Pride and Prejudice... Letters to Alice In Jane Austen's time, women had no way for social advancement or financial security other than by having a good marriage. The necessity for this is shown through many of the characters such as Mrs Bennet who is desperate have all her daughters married as soon as possible. "The business of her life was to get her daughters married." Pride and Prejudice Aunt Fay understands that Alice may believe that marriage is an "Outmoded institution", however she recognizes the need for marriage in Austen's time and explains this to Alice. Alice may by influenced her parents marriage which does not seem to be perfect. Her views may be compared to Elizabeth's in that she too did not believe in marriage as it was, preferring and fighting for a relationship built on love rather than money. This is just one of the ways that the social conventions of Austen's time are challenged through Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth stands for emotion over financial gain in marriage which is not necessary in the eyes of her society. Aunt Fay, however, expresses the need for balance and justifies the role of marriage according to the time that you are living in. Jane Austen views and feelings about class divisions are made clear in her novel. There are very definite class divisions and it is obvious that the Bennets lie beneath those such as Mr. Darcy. Prejudice and Class Divisions The Role of Writing Value for Marriage Austen satirizes and emphasizes this 'class consciousness' through characters such as Mr Collins.
Collins believes he is in a position of authority and therefore in the position to impose his knowledge and beliefs on those 'underneath' him such as the Bennet children. "If she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation." She also uses Collins as a contrast between the ways of treating the upper classes. Collins effectively worships the ground underneath Lady Catherine de Bourgh's feet while Lizzy does not believe that knowledge and respect always comes with status.
The example of Mr. Collins subtly implies the flaws of the other higher class members such as Mr. Darcy and the Bingley women. Fay Weldon makes an ironic comment on using a person's status as a mark of their ability to teach in her portrayal of Aunt Fay, always telling Alice the way in which to write and to not listen to anyone... but to listen to her and follow her advice.
Alice however responds by following her own ideas and direction. Elizabeth also subverts the advice of the wider society by rejecting Mr Collins' marriage proposal against all the reasoning of Mrs. Bennet.
She chooses instead to search for a relationship based on love rather than that based on where it will land you in society.
This is reason for her original rejection of Mr Darcy, based on the social prejudices, however these are removed with his kind act towards their family. It was emphasized many times in the socratic circle that the protagonists of both stories are trying to change the perceptions of their society and their readers. Implying the ability to change the conventions through the power of writing. Both Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice take on the role of the didactic novel. Each author aiming to teach through their writing. By challenging the social conventions of her time, Austen is able to impart a collection of personal values and morals that she believes in in an attempt to offer a different opinion on how society should be. Previous to Austen's time, literature was in the form of essays, biographies, and Gothic novels. The idea of Pride and Prejudice was revolutionary, being written by a woman, and about a woman, and questioning society's conventions. By taking the form of an epistolic novel, Weldon has allowed for teaching in an obvious way. Letters have always been formal and detailed which gives reason for the tone and structure of Aunt Fay's letters and as was pointed out in the socratic circle, it gives time for the development of characters and their opinions. Aunt Fay tells Alice that "People want to be told how to live", as a reason for having a clear morale to a story, which is seen in the way that Austen portrays her own values. Aunt Fay also tells Alice to write about what she knows, which doesn't necessarily hold true for Austen as a middle class woman writing about the upper classes, however she does this successfully as was pointed out in the discussion with the quote: "What she lacks for in breadth, she makes up for in depth." Possibly giving inspiration to Alice, allowing her to break away from her Aunt's advice. The City of Invention! The City of Invention places all literature in their respective places. The socratic circle helped in defining this and describing it as something subject to the changing forms of writing over time. Pride and Prejudice has established its own position in the City of Invention as effectively the 'Pemberley' of the area. From this there have been many other genres branching off to the time of Aunt Fay, who disses the trashy romance novels of her time. It is ironic however as they stemmed from Austen's novel and have their own place in the city. It was suggested in the discussion that as time goes on, more and more places are being created for new forms of writing. It is possible that in Alice's rejection of Aunt Fay's advice she is creating a new area in the city, without the influence of past structures and the 'literary canon'. This is the end of my Preziiiii
(: THE END :)
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