Exploring Connections Between Weldon's "Letters to Alice" and Austen's "Pride and Prejudice

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How do the connections between the two texts enrich the meaning of each text? When considered on their own, texts are constructed to create meaning and impart that meaning on a responder. However when two linked texts a considered together, their meanings are enriched as the responder can compare both texts, and take extra meaning from how the two texts differ and agree with each other, by evaluating which is more effective. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when read in isolation can be a simple bildungsroman narrative about the maturation of a young woman. However if the responder were to read Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen, the connections between the two would shape and then reshape the responder’s understanding of both texts. The two texts are connected most obviously through Weldon’s commentary and analysis of Austen’s writing and social and historical context. However the two texts are also connected through their didactic purpose, examination of values, use of epistles and their female author’s status and feminist messages. Whilst all of these connections do enrich each text, it is to a limited extent as both texts also work in isolation. Aunt Fay writes to her niece Alice in the hope of teaching her about Austen and her writing and what better way to do that than by direct reference to Austen’s most successful text, Pride and Prejudice? Weldon in turn helps the actual reader understand Pride and Prejudice by commenting on the characters’ behaviour and the plot by giving her personal opinion, as well as identifying typical language features and explaining why Austen is valued today. She expresses empathy for Mrs Bennet which encourages the reader to reconsider their own opinion Her use of first person language tells the reader that they are reading a biased opinion, but also helps the reader trust Weldon as she is speaking

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