Pride and Prejudice is one of the best-loved novels of all time. Written by Jane Austen in the year 1813, it details the unraveling love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The beautifully romantic novel is dearly loved by readers of the 21st century too. The manner in which it has been written helps the reader remain absorbed in the story and enjoy the witty manner in which the story is narrated. The characters are memorable and the social norms of the time are clearly brought out.
There are several instances in the novel when letters have been used. The article below details the importance of letters in Pride and Prejudice so you will be able to analyze the story further too.
In total there are seven letters in the story.
The very first letter is by Mr. Collins, who announces his planned visit to the home of the Bennets. The true feelings of Mr. Collins, who is portrayed as an overly pompous and courteous young man are beautifully brought to light through this letter. He is not one of the key characters in the novel but he serves as a connection between the main families as the story unfolds.
There is yet another letter from Mr. Collins later on in the novel. This comes shortly after the elopement of Lydia with Mr. Wickham. Here he advises Mr. Bennet about how the disgraced girl should be treated. He also tells in a very heartless way that he considers it fortunate that he was exempted from the misery of the family as he was not married to any of the Bennet girls.
Between the two main sisters of the story, Jane and Elizabeth, there is a letter. The former sends a detailed one describing the horrific elopement of the younger sister Lydia. This letter shows the degree of shame and shock that the family is experiencing over this issue. Indeed, it describes an important turning point in the story too. This is one of the main crisis points in the novel and the frazzled sister tries to describe the incident the best way she can.
There is a letter written by Mrs. Gardiner as well and it is also one of the most important letters in the novel. The significance of this letter is the way that it alters the image that Lizzy had about Darcy. The plot takes a different twist after this as Elizabeth is forced to think of Darcy in a better light after this.
Elizabeth also writes a letter to Mrs. Gardiner, explaining the relationship between the two. This is also an important letter in the story. Miss Bennet’s changed feelings are depicted in this as well.
The letter written by Darcy to Elizabeth is one of the keys turning points in the novel. Jane Austen uses this to describe past incidents as well. It brings to light the characteristics of several important characters in the story. It is a wonderful plot device that has been used brilliantly in the story. The character of Darcy is cleared to a great extent in this chapter too. It is written completely by the gentleman, attempting to detail his side of the story. In short, this is one of the main points which are discussed in a Pride and Prejudice essay too. The literary style of this letter is void of any venom or anger. The gentleman seeks to simply describe several incidents in the past which cause a change of heart in the lady. The significance of this is that it alters the perception that the lady has about Darcy, whom she believed to be filled with pride. The reader gets to see a clear picture of the gentleman through this. The prejudice that the lady has slowly starts to vanish after this too.
Jane writes to Elizabeth to describe her time in London. These main characters exchange several letters throughout the novel. They are used as a form of plot device brilliantly by the author to help the reader get a better understanding of the characters. The former is distraught although she tries to hide is from the latter. Lizzy gets rather upset after reading this as she realizes that Miss Bingley seeks to keep her brother away from the angelic sister. It is a brilliant dramatic device that well serves its purpose. It’s one of the few letters from Jane to Elizabeth that we get to read in the story. In this novel the sisters remain very close to each other.
It is also said that in the end, a letter arrives from Lady Catherine to Darcy. This is a venomous one which could deteriorate the relationship the nephew has with his aunt. The narrative crisis here is quite apparent. Austen uses these literary devices to play an important role in the story.
The character of the old lady is wonderfully depicted through this situation as she tries to sever the relationship she has with her nephew on the grounds of his marriage. It is said that Darcy himself later writes to the aunt and thus the relationship is well preserved. This second letter plays an important role as Darcy’s pride as well as Elizabeth’s prejudice are both vanquished through it.
It is clear that Jane Austen used Samuel Richardson as a guide when penning this novel as there are many beautiful ways in which letters are used in the story. The form narrative of the author is brilliant to say the least. It is one of the best novels written in English literature that wonderfully uses epistolary.