“Pride and Prejudice” - The Story of the Upper-Class Society

Set in the early 1800’s, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the upper-class society of the 5 Bennet sisters whose key aim in life is to marry into status. In the 1800’s the only real ways of communication were either in person, although this could not be done alone very well and your only thoughts and feelings could not really be discussed.

Or by letter, this method was a much better way of putting your character and feelings towards the subject matter across.

This is shown in the 40+ letters that Pride and Prejudice contains. This was not unusual at the time, in most novels, but, Jane Austen has constructed the letters in such a way as to develop the plot and also the characters develop through the letters that we see throughout the novel.

The letters are also a way for the characters to convey their thoughts and feelings and for the reader to explore their inner thoughts. Without the letters the plot would move on very slowly and the reader would not be able to understand the complicated plot line.

The letters are a record of things previously said and so can be looked back upon, as such the letters are a good way for the story to be explained again or to recap on what has already happened but not been told to the reader. It is also a permanent record of who wrote the letter and as such is constructed very well to convey personality.

One of the first letters we see in Pride and Prejudice is the letter from Mr.

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Collins to the Bennet family explaining of his wishing to come and stay with them. As soon as the letter is read we see Mr. Collins ulterior motive for his unexpected communication with the Bennett’s. One of the first things we see from the letter is that he wishes to come and stay at Long Bourne. Another reason that we see quite early in the letter is that of the possibility of marriage with one of his fair cousins. We see that Mr. Collins wants to heal the rift between the two families. ‘I have frequently wished to heal the rift.’ This gives the impression that he actually wants to help out, but as we read on we see that he has just become a clergymen and that the only real reason he wants to come as Lady Catherine de Bourgh has gave him permission to. This makes him sound very selfish and arrogant.

This also gives him an air of pompous self assurance that he will just be able to come straight down and it will not be an inconvenience to the Bennett’s. He also says Lady Catherine de Bourgh as if everybody will know who she is, but as we see this just makes him look like a fool as nobody has heard of her. He tries to make himself sound higher in status by dropping names like Lady Catherine’s. This makes him sound very arrogant and makes people think worse of him.

The ignorance of the letter is shown as we do not see a sensitive side to Mr. Collins and all we see from this letter is that he is very serious and has no sense of humour. This is shown as the letter is very wordy and weighty and we do not see any of the sharpness of thought or wit that we see in many other letters in the novel. This sets up Mr. Collins arrival as we already know what to expect from him. If the letter were not used the reader would not be able to know as much about Mr. Collins as they do from reading the letter. Mr. Collins’s letter also uses the phrase ‘I flatter myself.’ This gives the impression that Mr. Collins is someone who thinks very high of himself and that he knows better than other people.

The Bennet family think very differently of Mr. Collins as we see as we read on. We see that Mr. Bennet thinks of Mr. Collins as a fool and would rather enjoy making a fool of the man. He jokes about his servile manner to Lady Catherine de Bourge by saying. ”especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again.’ This shows that Mr. Bennet thinks he can have fun with Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennet shows just how shallow she really is by completely changing her opinion of Mr. Collins as soon as she hears that there could be marriage on the cards. This shows a contrast from Mrs. Bennet as we see her changing her attitude from not wanting anything to do with either Mr. Collins or the letter to a much more positive outlook on Mr. Collins. Eliza sees Mr. Collins as an oddity and this is probably due to the structure of the letter and the way Mr. Collins has worded and phrased the letter.

This shows that letters do show a persons personality and if written wrong can make people think wrongly of you. Catherine and Lydia do not care for the man as he is not from the army. This shows the child like nature of the two youngest and also shows how they both think alike. Mary studies the letter and almost tries to show off her intelligence by studying the composition of the letter and tells the family that the letter structure is good; this may show that Mr. Collins has tried with the letter and although got most of the letter wrong has got at least something right. Jane’s good nature comes through as she tries to find some good in the man. She does not really see how his atonement to the family can really be met but still gives him credit for trying.

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“Pride and Prejudice” - The Story of the Upper-Class Society. (2019, Jan 20). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-pride-and-prejudice-4/

“Pride and Prejudice” - The Story of the Upper-Class Society
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