Pride and Prejudice, Letters to Alice

Topics: Pride and Prejudice, Novel, Jane Austen Pages: 4 (1266 words) Published: August 16, 2013
The ideas conveyed by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice and Fay Weldon in Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen conflict with and challenge the values of their contemporary society and serve to offer moral perspectives opposing to those of their respective societies. Connections can be made between the role of the writer and their purpose in both texts and, particularly through consideration of Weldon’s contextualisation and form, the reader’s perspective of both texts is reshaped and enhanced. Furthermore, Weldon perceives and forges a connection with Austen to illustrate both authors’ didactic purposes and allows the reader to re-evaluate the form and purpose of Pride and Prejudice against Weldon’s feminist and postmodern context. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen criticises the education of women in 19th century England which extols the virtues of “the accomplished woman” and good wife. She elevates moral development and gender equality, as part of her didactic purpose, influenced by feminist Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, “I do earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex confounded in society… For this distinction is, I am firmly persuaded, the foundation of weakness of character ascribed to women” and through her characterisation and caricature of Caroline Bingley who epitomises the distinction of sex in society, Austen portrays the absurdity of the value placed on accomplishments as Caroline asserts, “Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with!” highlighting her high self-regard. This is then ironically devalued in Austen’s authorial intrusion that she is Darcy’s “faithful assistant”. This serves to devalue accomplishments as a form of education and as an extension, society’s strict distinction of gender and status which Austen challenges through Elizabeth Bennet. In the absence of the “good” education that Caroline has...
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