The Importance of Narrative Voice and Dialogue

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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.

Throughout the passage from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the author provides many ways to establish the creation of meaning through the use of dialogue and narrative voice. Austen allows the reader insight into the nature of the characters by us of dialogue, in which we see how the characters interact with each other. Austen also uses narrative, focalization, discourse and punctuation to further develop the characters and create familiarity between them and the reader. I hope to analyse the ways in which she does this and the meaning that is consequently created. The narration within the passage is omniscient. The narrator knows the actions, thoughts, words and feelings of not only the characters but also gives the reader insight into the society attitude to the engagement of Jane and Bingley; “The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world”. The understated way in which the narrator ‘tells’ the reader this using the omniscient voice, allows the reader to absorb the information in a detached way; giving them the impression of a small, judgmental community who are limited in their imagination. This has the effect of enriching the reader’s understanding of the characters that live within the community. In contrast, we are dramatically ‘shown’ by the narrator Mrs Bennet’s reaction, “Why he has four or five thousand a year”. The litter of exclamation marks in the paragraph convey Mrs Bennet’s excitement, and the reader may judge that Mrs Bennet is shallow and slightly silly. The reader’s judgment is qualified by the fact that Mr Bennet does not reply to this utterance, and perhaps has the opinion that it is an exaggerated response and not worthy of reply. However, the narrator lets us know that while Mrs Bennet’s speech is worthy of judgement; it is an acceptable perspective shared by the society in which she lived and therefore perhaps, nudges the reader to judge them both harshly or conversely understand and excuse her. The society view within the passage, that the good marriage of a daughter is the luck of a family conveys an impression of realism. Mrs Bennet’s speech which features Bingley’s money and good looks, (not mentioning his character at all) also compounds the preconception that in this era these values were considered important before all other virtues. Conversely, the way in which the Bennets are described as being the “luckiest family in the world” has a quality of romance or a fairy tale/dream ending. Realism and romance are therefore both used to convey the ‘good fortune’ of the family and its implications. The omniscient narrator conveys the point of view of the characters Mary and Kitty to their sister’s engagement through the use of free indirect speech – “Mary petitioned...Kitty begged very hard...” this has the effect of giving the reader insight into the nature of the two sisters – they may conclude that Mary is the more staid, scholarly sister and Kitty frivolous, even the names of the characters affirms this. This characterization enables the reader form an opinion on the characters and in doing so gets more involved in the plot. Much of the passage is made up of direct speech between Jane and Elizabeth, this dialogue has the effect of conveying the closeness between the two sisters. The dialogue is interjected with omniscient narration that portrays Elizabeth’s inner thoughts and relief that Bingley had not told Jane of Darcy’s involvement in their previous estrangement “Elizabeth was pleased”. This has the effect of involving the reader and establishing affection for the character. The reader is privy to thoughts and events that not even her sister is aware of and is therefore complicit in the omission, sharing a secret with Elizabeth; thus drawing the reader to the...
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