Pride and Prejudice Passage Analysis

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A210 – Approaching Literature

Assignment 1

Read the passage from Pride and Prejudice and, in a continuous essay of not more than 1,000 words, analyse this passage, discussing how narrative voice and dialogue are important elements in the creation of meaning in the passage.

The passage of Pride and Prejudice contains many narrative devices to help further the understanding of the reader. This includes the narrative devices of ‘telling’ the reader events using narrative voice, free indirect speech or focalisation, and ‘showing’ them using dialogue. ‘Telling’ has the advantages of usually being quicker to make points and allowing the reader access to a characters private thoughts and feelings. ‘Showing’ is more dynamic as it involves interaction with other characters.

The passage begins by ‘telling’ focalised through Elizabeth, therefore the reader is first introduced to events from Elizabeth’s point of view. This helps to establish Elizabeth as the protagonist of the piece. The beginning of the passage refers to events ‘within the last day or two’, before quickly and smoothly shifting to the present and to dialogue, within the same sentence. These small shifts could be intended to jolt the reader, this ‘jolt’ or feeling of displacement is perfectly in line with Elizabeth’s feelings throughout the passage, and may help the reader feel more involved.

Elizabeth’s feelings of shock cause her to ‘overcome the bounds of decorum’ and she cries out. This single line of dialogue stands out between blocks of narrative, perhaps highlighting the lack of ‘decorum’. Elizabeth exclaims ‘my dear Charlotte’ when she cries out, indicating the familiarity between the two friends. The narrative then refers to Charlotte as ‘Miss Lucas’, putting a distance between Elizabeth and Charlotte. This could be either a deliberate distancing by the narrator, or the narrator focalising through Charlotte, who has been so taken aback by Elizabeth’s outburst she is no longer ‘my dear...
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