Write a short note on the narrative technique of Pride and Prejudice.

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Jane Austen uses the following narrative techniques in her novel "Pride and Prejudice" :

1. The Third Person Omniscient Author Technique: In this method of narration the author Jane Austen is in complete control of the narration of the story. Whatever she says we have to accept unquestioningly and wherever she leads us we have to follow. The opening remark of the novel is a good example of this narrative method:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

This method of narration sometimes entails the novelist to directly address the readers. This is known as Authorial Intrusion. In Ch.61 Jane Austen directly 'intrudes'  into the action remarking "I wish I could say."

2. The Dramatic Method of Narration: In this method of story telling the novelist Jane Austen completely withdraws from the action and with very minimal narration and description the entire scene is played out right in front of our eyes. The dialogue very effectively portrays the personality of each character and simultaneously develops the plot of the novel. The very first chapter of the novel is a dramatic scene which not only introduces us to the family of the Bennets but also kick starts the action by mentioning the arrival of Bingley in the neighborhood.

3. Dramatizing the Consciousness of the character: In this progressive method of narration Jane Austen takes her readers into the mind of her characters. She records very minutely the entire thought process of the character and reveals the feelings and emotions of that character. In Ch.36 Jane Austen records in great detail the mental change that took place in the personality of the heroine Elizabeth after she had read and reread several times Darcy's letter:

``How despicably have I acted!'' she cried. -- ``I, who have prided myself on my discernment! -- I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity, in useless or blameable distrust. -- How humiliating is this discovery! -- Yet, how just a humiliation! -- Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. -- Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.''

Thus we see that Jane Austen uses a variety of narrative techniques according to the varying needs of the plot and characterization of "Pride and Prejudice."

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