Comparative Study: Letters to Alice and Pride and Prejudice Essay

1511 Words May 23rd, 2013 7 Pages
Analyse how the central values portrayed in Pride and Prejudice are creatively reshaped in Letters to Alice.

The two texts, Letters to Alice and Pride and Prejudice, mirror and contrast the central values shared and explored by evaluating them; presenting them against Jane Austen's context and that of Fay Weldon. Mirroring Austen's novel, Weldon presents the central values for women such as the social values of moral behaviour, independence, and, literary values of reading and writing, from Pride and Prejudice and adapts them to a 20th Century context. Weldon's novel's subtitle, On First Reading Jane Austen, suggests that the novel should serve as a filter to assist readers. The implication of this is that Weldon enables her readers
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Austen ridicules such texts and distinguishes this idea against Elizabeth's passion for reading and her obvious intellect inferred through her witty personality. This is further supported by Mr Darcy's comments on reading as an accomplishment when he sights Elizabeth reading. Weldon evidently shares this value of reading, as it appears Jane Austen did, by using the extended metaphor of the "City of Invention" to introduce the world of literature that Weldon romanticises. She says, "It glitters and glances with life, and gossip, and colour, and fantasy... it is a city that the readers come, to admire, to learn, to marvel and explore." This conveys Weldon's incorporation of the value of reading and writing by placing Jane Austen and her book Pride and Prejudice as part of the City of Invention; a realm in which she urges Alice to delve into.

Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice, through the didactic literary form of an epistolary novel, serves to encourage a heightened understanding of the values and contemporary issues of Jane Austen’s cultural context. In doing so, it inspires the modern responder to adopt more holistic appreciation for the plight of the characters and the values inherent in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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