Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice

Connections enrich understanding in the pairs of texts set for study.
To what extent is this made evident in the texts you have studied?

      Fay Weldon’s “Letters to Alice” acts on some levels as a non fictional ‘reading guide’ to the Literature and context of Jane Austen, in particular her novel, “Pride and Prejudice.” Being a text that has stood the test of time for millions of readers across two centuries, “Pride and Prejudice” is quintessentially about universal values and ideas, presented in a stylized context. Read alone, “Pride and Prejudice” may seem to be a fairly shallow romance story- however in exploring the connections Austen’s novel has sustained into the 20th century, one can start to look at Austen’s work as having a broader social and universal value, as enlightened by the didactic, fictional “Aunt Fay.”

      “Letters” to Alice is a tool for contemporary readers to de-code the intricacies of Jane Austen’s writing, and to apply her meaning and value to 20th or 21st century living. The most evident connection between the two texts is to do with the act of reading and writing. In both texts, the act of reading is multi faceted and works on dual levels- the reading of books, and the reading of character. For Aunt Fay in “Letters to Alice”, the former is most certainly emphatically and often patronisingly expressed: Weldon has created a caricature of a precocious Aunt figure who flatters herself in her wit and wisdom, as often found throughout her incredibly demeaning and demanding tone towards her niece, with her use of the imperative: “you must” “you ought to” and “I must know something, or at least more than you.” This use of explicit didacticism is wholly different to the implicit didacticism employed subtly throughout Austen’s novel. Austen, like Weldon, creates caricatures and stereotypes, through which an audience can easily relate. The omniscient third person narrator also often interjects with character descriptions to help create...