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Pride and Prejudice

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Essay title: Pride and Prejudice

Question: Read the passage from pride and prejudice (Volume 2 Chapter 9) carefully several times.

In a continuous essay of not more that 1000 words, analyse this passage, discussing ways in which the narrative voice and dialogue are used.

The passage extracted from Volume 2 Chapter 9 of Pride and Prejudice is, in line with the rest of the novel, written in the third person narrative voice. As is common throughout the Novel, focalization is often through the main character, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Helping to aid the readers’ understanding of the Novel, the narrative voice has a free non-direct style which shares commentary with the characters and moves unnoticeably and unobtrusively from character to group, from solitary scenes to social gatherings of the characters.

The passage opens directly with dialogue between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Dialogue is used to reveal the character of the speaker and it also adds drama to the story. The repetitious use of “cannot” is used to empathise the male dominance of the character. Not only are the words that are spoken important, it is also significant how the words are said.

Charlotte’s first line in the passage is spoken “impatiently”. Quite ironically she is speaking of a gentleman’s affection, and thereafter she speaks “knowledgeably” of love. She is neither knowledgeable nor experienced in either of these matters. Perhaps the “impatience” is more pertinent to her wishes than to experience. In this way, Jane Austen uses irony in her narrative as a means of showing the truth about situations and people.

In Darcy’s discourse he is disagreeing with Elizabeth – a pattern that emerges throughout the novel. Within the conversation between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet we are exposed to the narrative technique of showing- when describing a narrative, one of the most important aspects is the point of view from which the story is told. Hence, there are two basic forms of narrative - diegesis and mimesis: the former means telling a story instead of showing a series of events, and the latter - the opposite of that. Simply put, diegesis implies that there is a personified narrator and mimesis - that a story is told by an omniscient incorporeal entity. This technique is particularly effective as it involves the reader imaginatively and allows us to judge the characters and their relations with one another.

Darcy only smiles in answer to Elizabeth’s retort. Bearing in mind the character already sketched of Mr Darcy, we are unaccustomed to him showing any humour. Through the narrative therefore I am able to deduce that Mr Darcy may be amused due to him mocking Elizabeth’s point of view. The dialogue ceases and gives way to third-party narration using Elizabeth as a focalizer.

An awkward silence followed – awkward only from Elizabeth’s point of view.

Although this scene is largely seen from the viewpoint of Elizabeth, we view the narrator as omniscient as little ironies are revealed about Elizabeth herself. For example, Elizabeth thinks Mr Darcy and the Bingley sisters rude due to the prejudices they hold against the Bennet’s for being of a lower social-standing. Yet Elizabeth herself is confused �My dear Eliza he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way’. Although Elizabeth is a thinking character and can laugh at the ridiculousness of unthinking

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