How does Austen employ narrative to comment on the values of her society?

Topics: Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, Academy Award for Best Actress Pages: 3 (912 words) Published: October 12, 2013
Pride and Prejudice is set in the early 19th century, in the same period Jane Austen herself lived in. It is set in a niche section of the society of that time, specifically the upper middle class, so it tells the reader about what life was like in this section of society. Since it focuses on such a small portion of society, it allows Austen to develop her writing in a lot of depth to narrate to the reader about what life was like. It becomes clear to the modern reader that life was very different to how it is now in many ways, including how people acted, how they thought, and what things they valued. Not only does Austen tell the reader what these values were, but shows her opinion of these values through her writing. Austen does this by using narrative techniques such as irony, characterisation and dialogue. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” From the first line of Pride and Prejudice Austen is already introducing many of the values of her society to the reader. This quotation specifically focuses how important marriage was to society, and how connected financial status was to marriage. The words “universally acknowledged” are very direct, and help to put forward the idea that marriage was a very conventional act, and was seen as a necessity, often to secure financial security. Austen uses the ironic tone of this quotation to put doubt into the reader’s mind as to whether this view of marriage is right. It seems Austen is commenting that this should not be how we view marriage. Another example of Austen commenting on the importance of marriage in society uses dialogue and the characterisation of Charlotte Lucas to stress this issue. The friendly discussion between Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth is both interesting to the reader, but also brings about a serious question as to whether marriage should be seen as a necessity or purely for love. Charlotte remarks that “when she...
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