Letters Pave the Way for Elizabeth and Darcy’s Engagement in Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen uses letters in Pride and Prejudice for a number of reasons, (such as character development and plot) however, I feel the most important function is the role they play in the engagement of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. There are three letters in particular that pave the way for this engagement: Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, Jane’s letter to Elizabeth while she is at Pemberley and Mrs. Gardiner’s letter to Elizabeth regarding Darcy’s involvement in Lydia’s wedding. It is not only the content of the letters, but also the reactions to the letters that leads to the acceptance of Darcy’s second proposal.
The first, and most important, letter is from Darcy to Elizabeth. It marks the turning point of the novel, where our protagonist discovers that she has been wrong about Darcy, and she is forced to revise her opinion of him. This is the first stepping stone on the path to their engagement. The amount of time Jane Austen devotes to Darcy’s letter illustrates how important it is, “The letter he delivers soon crowds out all other words, monopolizing the narrative for the next seven pages” (Fraiman 361). Darcy’s true character is shown in the writing of his letter, and his emotions are both heartfelt and strong. “Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth shows that he respects Elizabeth and desires her good opinion despite his insulting proposal, since he trusts her with an important piece of family scandal” (Lenckos 2005). Elizabeth also notices the praise he bestows on her and Jane, “the compliment to herself and her sister, was not unfelt” (Austen 137), although not the primary motive of the letter, it soothes some of the hurts mentioned about her family. The epiphany happens after she has read the letter a few times and begins to see its truth, “every line proved more clearly that the affair…was capable of a turn which must make him entirely blameless throughout the whole” (135). Her...
Cited: Austen, Jane, and Donald Gray. Pride and Prejudice: An Authoritative Text, Background and Sources, Criticism. 3.rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001. Print.
Fraiman, Susan. “The Humiliation of Elizabeth Bennet.” Pride and Prejudice. New York, 2001. 356-368
Lenckos, Elizabeth. “…[I]inventing elegant letters, or, why don’t Austen’s lovers write more often”. Persuasions Online V.26, NO.1 (Winter 2005)
Pride and Prejudice. Dir. Joe Wright. Universal Pictures, 2005.
Pride and Prejudice and the Art of Conversation. 28 January. 2013. BBC World Service. .
Wallace, Tara. “Getting the Whole Truth in Pride and Pejudice.” Pride and Prejudice. New York, 2001. 376-383
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