top-rated free essay

What Do We Learn About the Characters in Pride and Prejudice from Their Epistolary Style?

By MariaBlossom Nov 03, 2008 704 Words
Letters play an extremely important role in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. They help communicate important information that would’ve taken much longer if written in narrative form. Some are used as turning points in the novel such as Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth after she refuses his first marriage proposal. Others reveal the character and personality of the letter writer. They allow the narrative to intensify quickly without spending many pages describing the events. It also allows changes in the character’s views of one another, for example Miss Bingley’s feelings about Jane, and helps the reader understand the motivations behind many of the characters’ actions because of the background information. Letters are used as a dramatic device to further the plot, link the story and to inform the readers of the character’s personalities. The letters that I am going to compare with each other are Mr Collins’ letter to Mr Bennet in chapter 48, and Lydia’s letter to Mrs Forster in chapter 47.

In chapter 48, it is difficult to count the number of ways in which Mr Collins manages to be offensive, apparently without being aware of it. He begins by saying ‘I feel myself called upon...to condole with you...’ He almost deliberately chooses not to be discreet about the exact source from which he heard the news, and does not avoid the implication that he has spread the scandal. Instead he tells on the Lucases for spreading the news of the scandal to Hunsford. He then goes on to say that he and Charlotte have been discussing the Bennet’s private affairs, as has he been doing with the De Bourghs. Mr Collins then ridiculously “comforts” Mr Bennet by pointing out that “The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this”. He manages to blame the Bennet parents for being too indulgent and informs Mr Bennet that Lady Catherin thinks that this will ruin the chances of his other daughters marrying, and is happy that he did not marry Elizabeth after all.

Letters can be used to deliver good or bad news at any time, and Lydia’s letter in chapter 47 to Mrs Forster is definitely bad news. Lydia completely disregards the feelings of her family, and acts on selfish impulses by eloping with Wickham as she believes that they are in love with each other. She is inconsiderate in her language, ‘I cannot help myself laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow...’ She does not understand the true consequences of her actions and the effect it will have on her family and friends. She also writes “What a good joke it will be!” if she signs her name “Lydia Wickham” on a letter to her parents which is a very immature way of telling your entire family of your whereabouts. Lydia is so thoughtless in this letter, and even though she is telling Ms Forster about a very serious issue, she manages to ask her to tell Sally to mend one of her gowns before sending it to her. This is very immature of her, and through this letter, we establish a new view of her character. Lydia ends her letter with the sentence, “I hope you will drink to our good journey” as if she wants us to be entirely accepting of the situation and to treat it as though it is like a normal marriage.

I think that in a way, Mr Collins and Lydia are both offensive and ignorant in their ways of writing. They both manage to be incredibly thoughtless. Although they are as bad as each other, we do get the impression that Lydia is much more deliberate in her selfishness and thoughtlessness. Mr Collins is more on the side of being completely ignorant to his actions and we forgive him more as he is thought to be a hopeless character in the novel.

As we have seen, letters can play a huge part in a novel, and I have written about two letters that have an effect on the story. These letters have especially changed our view on these two characters and there is more motivation behind the character’s actions.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Pride and Prejudice Character Analysis

    ... izabeth Bennet The second daughter in the Bennet family, and the most intelligent and quick-witted, Elizabeth is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice and one of the most well-known female characters in English literature. Her admirable qualities are numerous—she is lovely, clever, and, in a novel defined by dialogue, she converses as bril...

    Read More
  • Pride and Prejudice Character Chart

    ...Evette Cortes February 10, 2012 Charles Bingley -Brother of Caroline B. -Very Modest -Easy of temper -Found Jane B. attracted -Bonds with Jane a lot -Friend of Darcy -He has a large fortune -He is good looking and is a gentleman -Can be a slave to his friends (Darcy) Elizabeth B. -2nd oldest daughter of the Bennet family -Prej...

    Read More
  • Pride and Prejudice Character Analysis

    ...Mr. Bennet Although he is an intelligent man and displays a good sense of judgment throughout the novel, such as showing disapproval of Elizabeth marrying Mr. Collins, he also appears to be quite physically detached from the world. While other characters are busy visiting neighbours or going on trips, he is rarely seen outside his library and...

    Read More
  • Pride and Prejudice Characters

    ...Characters Mr. Bennet is a gentleman with modest income and five unmarried daughters. In his youth he fell in love with a young and beautiful girl and married her without seeing her silliness and insularity. Now he hasn’t anything other left than his interest for the country and books, which have arisen his principal enjoyments. He supported ...

    Read More
  • pride and prejudice characters

    ...Elizabeth. He considers his other daughters as silly and empty-headed and Lizzy, as he called Elizabeth, the cleverest. He has an odd character Mrs. Bennet: in her youth she was a beautiful woman but now that she has grow-up daughters she stops thinking in her own beauty and thinks of her daughter's future. She has been married for almost twent...

    Read More
  • Character of Mr Cllins in Pride and Prejudice

    ...Name: Gary Dillon Professor: English 102 Date: April 24, 2013 Mr. Collins is a character in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. He is the cousin of Mr. Bennet and is the clergyman at the Hunsford parsonage near Rosing’s Park, the estate of his patroness Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Because Mr. Bennet has no sons, Mr. Collins is th...

    Read More
  • Character Foils in Pride and Prejudice

    ...Katelin Montgomery Character Foil Essay: Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet Present throughout Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is the idea of marriage and contrasting viewpoints on the matter. Elizabeth retains her romantic view of the subject, despite pressure from societal forces. Her good friend, Charlotte Lucas, however chooses...

    Read More
  • The Main Characters of Pride and Prejudice

    ...The Main Characters of Pride and Prejudice Most people have seen the movie played by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen or read the book, pride and prejudice, wrote by Jane Austen. We may be moved by Darcy and Elizabeth’s love. Though there are full of hardships, they have a happy ending. Then I will introduce the difficult but be...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.