Jane Austen & Fay Weldon

Dear Fay Weldon,

Might I just say that it feels so invigorating to pen your name upon this letter, your both concise and witty demonstration of the evolution of women has inspired myself among many, I am certain. As you may have already guessed, I have recently concluded my study of your non-fiction, post-modern pastiche, Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen in conjunction with Austen’s own Pride and Prejudice. In my opinion, Austen’s canonical text reflects values of marriage and the lives of women in an eighteenth century context whereas your didactic tone has provided me with a modernist view of the value of education and independence of women in a consumerist society. As such I have been poignantly enlightened on the evolving nature of the human race especially in regards to the lives of women and the pertaining importance of education in both contexts.

The contextual elements you exercise in Letters To Alice and the strong didacticism in your written tone, demonstrate to me that the gender prone issues such as marriage and relationships remain relevant across the span of centuries. I thank you for centralising such issues in your text, for upon reading Pride and Prejudice I was wary not to dismiss Elizabeth Bennet as a character that belongs solely to the past. Nor did I jump to the conclusion that the issues she faced in her male-dictated society would never be encountered by my own generation.   Despite the fact that Austen and yourself wrote in entirely different contexts, in the pre-feminism and second wave feminism eras respectively, your boundaries are similarly determined by men. Through the opening quote of Pride and Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” Austen assembles the conventions of her society and places the power into the men’s hands – they hold the fortune, they want a wife (neither the aforementioned wife nor her desires are further...