Style

Pride and Prejudice

by

Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice: Style 1 key example

Chapter 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Pride and Prejudice is written from a third-person omniscient perspective, meaning the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters and shifts their focus throughout the novel. While mostly focused on capturing the opinions of characters, the narrator also shares their own judgments. They do so in a style that mimics the speaking style of the characters—often sharing critical feedback in seemingly polite or respectful ways.

Though the narrator pays attention to all of the characters, they spend the most time with Elizabeth—the protagonist of the book. The narrator often zooms into Elizabeth's thoughts to explore her developing feelings for Darcy. For instance, the narrator explicitly shifts attention toward Elizabeth in this moment, as she lies awake trying to sort out her thoughts:

As for Elizabeth, her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last, and the evening, though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her feelings towards one in that mansion; and she lay awake two whole hours, endeavouring to make them out. She certainly did not hate him.

In this passage, the narrator essentially gives readers access to what's going on inside of Elizabeth’s head (“her thoughts were at Pemberley,” “endeavoring to make [her feelings] out”). Then, at the end of the paragraph, the narrator shifts into a more direct explanation of how Elizabeth feels, stating plainly that she doesn't hate Darcy.

On another note, much of the narration in Pride and Prejudice is quite literal—the narrator almost never uses imagery or figurative language. Instead, the narrator is primarily focused on capturing the particular class and social dynamics between the characters as literally as possible.