In writing, one can express feelings they can never convey aloud. Letters allow one to reveal their thoughts more personally and intimately than they can in person. Staring at a blank page of paper is definitely less intimidating than looking into someone?s eyes. Communication is such an important vitality, and letter-writing the lacks loss of words, stuttering, awkward silences, and uneasiness that conversations can sometimes carry.
In the novel Pride and Prejudice, letter-writing is almost as much a form of communication as face-to-face conversation. In fact, letters provide some of the most intense and important climaxes in the story, not to mention some of the most intense secrets. This method that Austen uses effectively conveys the situation without any interruption or delay.
The most obvious example of a letter revealing intimate feelings is Darcy?s letter to Elizabeth. After Lizzy accuses Darcy of being greedy and lying, he leaves immediately without justifying his actions. In the letter he writes her after their meeting, he explains, ?You may possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night. But I was not then the master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed.? (pg. 137-138) Even though Darcy?s character is very stubborn and intolerant, he was threatened by her forceful nature, he felt as if he couldn?t confide in her. Perhaps he is intimidated more by his feelings towards her because he has never been so infatuated with a woman before. Nonetheless, his letter makes Elizabeth realize the prejudice that lies in herself, as well as her love for Darcy.
Jane Bennet, Elizabeth?s older sister, expresses her feelings the most through her letters to her sister. The ongoing relationship with she and Bingley often brought grief to her, which she would write about to Elizabeth. After Bingley failed to visit Jane in London, she wrote to Lizzy,
??if he (Bingley) had at all cared about me, we must have met long, long ago? I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly I should be almost tempted to say, that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this.? (pg. 102)
The only character who brings comic relief through his letters is Mr. Collins. Even in his writing his pompous, egotistic attitude is visible. The letters he wrote to the Bennet?s provided a way for Mr. Collins to not only gloat about his relationship with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but also to condescendingly rehash the Bennet family troubles without receiving a reaction. In his first letter to Mr. Bennet, he writes,
??I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh?whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be by earnest endeavor to demean myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship?? (pg. 42)
After the news is said of Lydia?s running away with Wickham, Mr. Collins writes Mr. Bennet another letter, stating, ?the death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this.? (pg. 198) And, in yet another letter, he writes,
?I am truly rejoiced that my cousin Lydia?s sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that their living together before the marriage took place, should be so generally known. I must not, however,?refrain from declaring my amazement, at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married.? (pg. 244)
It is obvious that Mr. Collins uses his letters as a way to ridicule the Bennet family for their imperfections and place his station in the hierarchy of society well above theirs.
Letters are not only used throughout the novel to convey feeling, but to also provide important developments. The first we hear of Lydia Bennet running away with Mr. Wickham is through a letter from Jane explaining to Elizabeth, ?An express came at twelve last night?from Colonel Forster, to inform us that she (Lydia) was gone off to Scotland with one of his officers; to own the truth, with Wickham!? (pg. 182) This occurrence is a great surprise because not only is Lydia less than sixteen years old, but Wickham was, at one time, pursuing Elizabeth. The news is one of the most scandalous events in the novel, and by presenting it through a letter, Austen can more blatantly present it without any distraction or interruption.
Throughout the novel Pride and Prejudice, letters are effectively used for a variety of purposes. Not only do they reveal secrets and lies, but they also give a more in-depth insight to certain characters. Every time a letter is written, the reader can expect to be intrigued by what they learn from it. This clever form of narration that Austen uses brings out the readers curiosity and makes the story more interesting overall.