Can you explain where the narrative exhibits focalization, third-person narration, and/or free indirect discourse in chapter 34, specifically in the passage starting with “Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression”?

In the passage from chapter 34 beginning “Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression,” focalization and third-person narration are both present. Focalization is an approach to narrative perspective. It may include attention to characters’ actions and their thoughts and emotions or represent an omniscient perspective. This passage uses a third-person narrator who seems to be omniscient in that they have access to both Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s interior states.

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In chapter 34 of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is reading letters in the Collins’s house, where she has been staying as their guest. This description is presented by the unnamed third-person narrator that Jane Austen uses consistently throughout the novel. Elizabeth is interrupted by the appearance of Fitzwilliam Darcy, whom she does not really consider a friend; she often claims to dislike him. Darcy quickly gets to the point and declares that he has struggled to overcome, but has been forced to admit, his true feelings. This expression and the following statement are lines of dialogue, presented as Darcy’s words.

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

The passage that comes next returns to the third-person narrative.

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, colored, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed.

The paragraph presents both Elizabeth’s feelings of “astonishment” and doubt, and her actions as she “stared … [and] colored” (or blushed) and remained silent. It also presents Darcy’s thoughts in interpreting her reaction and his long-held feelings, as well as his actions as he quickly resumes speaking, offering his “avowal,” or swearing to these feelings.

The remainder of the passage, through “very unlikely to recommend his suit,” primarily provides a summary of Darcy’s speech. It also includes his unspoken thoughts, or awareness that “he was wounding” Elizabeth, and reference to his warm or passionate manner of speaking and the narrator’s opinion of the reason for this “warmth.”

For the most part, the passage in question uses a third-person narrator, whose point of view seems to be omniscient. The narrator knows not only what is happening in a room where only Darcy and Elizabeth are present, but also knows what both of them are thinking and feeling. They also present their own interpretation of the actions and thoughts.

Focalization is related to point of view but concentrates on the interactions among perspectives. Because of the narrator’s omniscience, the passage can be identified as non-focalized. In presenting the characters’ actions as well as their thoughts and feelings, the focalization is both external and internal.

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