Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a very accomplished book because of Austen’s clever and successful use of literary techniques. Literary techniques refer to the deliberate construction of language to further the story whether that be to develop character, plot, suspense or to create an enjoyable humorous novel. Jane Austen applies many literary techniques such as point of view, dialogue, letters and irony to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is told in third person limited omnipresent point of view but mainly told through Elizabeth’s consciousness.
This point of view is a successful narrative technique because it gives an insight into the characters, mainly Elizabeth’s thoughts, and also helps to create suspense. This technique also arouses the reader’s sympathy for Elizabeth because we can see that she is being honest to herself, which is essential if we are to desire her reform. “The officers of the-shire were in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set. And the best of them were of the present party; but Mr Wickham was as far beyond them all in prison, countenance, air, and walk.
” (pg65) This is Elizabeth’s opinion of Mr Wickham that is later found out to be completely wrong but the reader can see her sincerity. By using this technique Austen can also control how much the reader knows about event and emotions which helps to create suspense. In the first section of the novel Austen occasionally reports form Darcy’s consciousness so that the reader is made aware of his growing feeling for Elizabeth and to highlight that Elizabeth was prejudice when she made a wrong judgment against Darcy. “Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her”.
In Pride and Prejudice she does not report from Darcy’s point of view during the period between her two proposals, so that the reader, like Elizabeth, is uncertain whether he is ‘lost forever’. The dialogue in Pride and Prejudice is very successful in developing characters and advancing the plot. Austen brings her characters to life by having them reveal themselves or other characters reveal them to the reader through their dialogue, rather than through detailed narrative descriptions. “Oh! you are a great deal apt you know, to like people in general.
You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life. ” This dialogue reveals Jane as being amiable, good-natured, and always assumes that others are as good-natured as she. In chapter three Darcy’s dialogue reveals his character to Elizabeth as being too proud. He thinks himself socially inferior to Elizabeth so declines from asking her to dance. This is one instance were the dialogue helps to create Elizabeth’s wrong judgement of Darcy and thus advancing her prejudice.
“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me. ” (pg13) Darcy’s sense of social superiority later proves his chief difficulty in admitting his love for Elizabeth. This dialogue also helps to advance the plot as his rudeness creates a negative impression of him in her mind, one that will linger for nearly half of the novel, until the underlying nobility of his character is gradually revealed to her.
The dialogue within Pride and Prejudice is a very significant part of the novel as it is a way revealing to the reader the characters and the plot progression. In addition to using dialogue, Austen also successfully uses letters to reveal character and to further the plot. The use of letters also allows Austen to introduce a character before they arrive such as Mr Collins in the letter of chapter 15. The letter is a popular literary convention that Austen weaves very cleverly into her novel. The letter in Chapter 7 from Jane to Elizabeth is an example of how Austen uses this technique successfully.
“I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my getting wet through yesterday. ” This reveals Jane to be good hearted and none judgmental of her mother even though it was Mrs. Bennet who intentionally sent her out into the rain. Jane did not once say it was Mrs. Bennet’s fault. The way Jane describes the Bingley sisters as ‘my kind friends’ also reinforces her warm heart. “therefore do not be alarmed if you should hear of his having been to me. ” Even though Jane is the one that is unwell she is always looking out for others so she sends the letter to reassure Elizabeth and make sure she does not worry.
The letter also demonstrates character relation as Jane sent it to Elizabeth showing that they have a close relationship. This letter also furthers the plot because as a result of this letter Elizabeth decides to visit Jane at Netherfield, which put Darcy and Elizabeth in more frequent and honest contact with each other. Just this one letter proves that the letter convention is a very successful narrative technique. Irony is the tension between literal meaning and implied meaning. Austen is able to present the main themes, criticise some characters and add humour through the use of irony within Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austin establishes her ironic tone in the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. ” However the opposite is the case. The truth is well fixed into the district, that he is already considered the rightful property of one of their daughters. It now becomes a competition for which mother has the daughter who gets him. Jane Austen treats the characters in Pride and Prejudice with irony.
Mr Bennet is a prime example as he himself is a very sarcastic and ironic character. “What say you Mary? For you are a young lady of deep reflection I know, and read great books, and make extracts. ” (pg9) Mr Bennet is being ironic because he knows that all Mary does is repeat what she reads and doesn’t actually understand it so he is really poking fun at Mary. This is also dramatic irony because the reader knows that Mr Bennet is not serious, but Mary takes him seriously. Austen uses irony as the basis for the plot. The whole story is based around an ironic situation.
Elizabeth prides herself on her observation of character but dislikes Darcy because she is under the mistaken impression that he disapproves of her. She is also mistaken by liking Wickham because he flatters her pride. In both cases she has judged incorrectly and begins her reform when she is given the truth in Darcy second proposal letter. The humour in Pride and Prejudice comes from this irony and from Austen’s gentle Satire. She laughs at human folly and social structure. Austin satirises Lady Catherine de Bourgh unmercifully as a member of the autocracy.
Jane Austin laughs at how Lady Catherine believes so strongly in the distinction between classes. Lady Catherine believes because she is in a higher class that she can influence whoever she wants but Austen is saying that the superiority in social class does not necessarily mean superiority in ethics, morals and intellect. Verbal and dramatic irony are a very successful literary technique in Pride and Prejudice as they create humour and criticise and develop characters. Jane Austin constructs Pride and Prejudice through the use of four main narrative techniques.
Third Person omnipresent point of view mainly through Elizabeth’s consciousness has the advantages of allowing the reader to sympathise with Elizabeth while being able to give the reader the narrative objectively. Austen’s use of dialogue allows her to reveal the character without giving a long narrative description. The use of a letter is proved very vital in Pride and Prejudice because plot and character development can be created in a couple of lines. Irony is also an important technique as it is the basic plot and creates the humour of the novel which is a great attraction to the reader.
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