Narrative Voice in Pride and Prejudice (Volume 1, Chapter Xvii)

Topics: Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy Pages: 4 (1128 words) Published: June 8, 2013
Read the passage from Pride and Prejudice (volume 1, chapter XVII) carefully several times. Then, in an continuous essay of no more than 1,000 words, analyse the passage, discussing ways in which the narrative voice and dialogue are used.

Throughout the passage, Jane Austen uses a variety of different narrative and dialogue techniques. The reader hears from three different people, an omniscient narrator, Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Bennet. Through these characters the technique of “showing” is used, which involved direct speech and “telling” where the narrator describes what is happening, what the characters are saying and how they are feeling. The “showing” technique allows the reader to see what the characters are saying to each other, so in this passage, the reader ‘sees’ the conversation between Elizabeth and Jane. “Telling” involves the use of free indirect speech and focalization, giving the reader a detailed view of the character and “telling” the reader what the character is thinking and feeling.

The passage opens with the omniscient narrator introducing a discussion between Jane and Elizabeth regarding Mr. Wickham’s dealings with Mr. Darcy. Austen uses the “telling technique” to introduce this passage to give clarity to the reader as to what the discussion is about, Austen opens with “Elizabeth related to Jane the next day, what had passed between Mr. Wickham and herself”. Elizabeth has decided to share her conversation with her sister Jane the following day, which means that Elizabeth has firstly had time to digest what Wickham has told her and secondly the narrator is telling us that she is close to her sister, because she is sharing this important information with her. The narrator uses free indirect speech which allows the reader to trust Elizabeth’s account of Wickham to be true, even though the reader does not know what has been spoken between the sisters.

The narrator uses Jane for focalization. Through the “telling” technique the...

Bibliography: The Open University (1995) The Realist Novel edited by Dennis Walder, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Jane Austen (1980) Pride and Prejudice, Oxford World Classics, for Open University.
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