Pride and Prejudice

Individuality and Moral Development: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Fay Weldon's Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen 12th Grade

Jane Austen’s social novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) from the patriarchal regency England employs free indirect speech to examine the notion that moral development can only be prompted by individual interactions and that individual felicity can only be achieved by overcoming social expectations. The responder’s understanding of the context and these enduring values is deepened through the Fay Weldon’s epistolary novel, Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen (1984), whereby the private nature of Weldon’s epistolary form in a post-feminist Contemporary England declares literature and success outside marriage as the modern means to achieve this.

Austen explores the necessity of introspection, through individual interactions, to prompt an individual’s moral development. In Pride and Prejudice, character traits are cultural constructs emanating from class concerns. Darcy’s pride is initially established at the ball, where his refusal to dance with Elizabeth in the condescending tone in “At such an assembly as this it would be unsupportable” reflects the view that social status equates prestige; albeit being merely opposite ends of the landed gentry. Elizabeth’s prejudiced perceptions are furthered through her encounter with...

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