How Does Jane Austen Narrate Chapter 16?

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The majority of chapter 16 is a dialogue between Mr Wickham and Elizabeth Bennet. The focus on uninterrupted speech gives Mr Wickham the platform to present himself to both Elizabeth and the reader, without narratorial judgement altering the reader’s perception of him. He is continually able to present himself as amiable, charismatic and elegant. Speech does indeed appear to be his skill as Elizabeth felt that the ‘commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker.’ Mr Wickham’s charming qualities are shown fully in his speech, while no focus is applied to his moral attributes. Thus, Austen highlights the danger of relying too heavily on the manner in which a person presents themselves for, if Elizabeth Bennet, was less enthralled by Wickham’s physical attraction, she would be able to appreciate that Wickham delays relating his story before he has identified how well acquainted Elizabeth is with Mr Darcy. It is significant that there are substantial dues to suggest that the reader should not trust Mr Wickham for his words contradict his actions. While professing it is not his ‘right to give his opinion’ he projects a humility which is undermined totally when he continues to relate his account of his and Mr Darcy’s history. Ironically, his criticisms of Mr Darcy are his own fault. This is further emphasised when he states that the world only see Mr Darcy as ‘he chuses to be seen’ By using Elizabeth as a centre of consciousness, the reader is encouraged to perceive events from her angle. The use of free indirect thought to illustrate Elizabeth’s emotions is a tool primarily designed to connect the reader with the protagonists’ psychological processes. For example, when Mr Wickham speaks of his mistreatment at the hands of Darcy, ‘Elizabeth found her interest of the subject increase and listened with all her heart’ and
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