Module a: Comparative Study of Texts and Context (Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice)

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An individual’s views and concerns may alter as time progresses, in keeping with the changing values of society. Over the centuries women have been the subjects to gender discrimination and unequal treatment, however within the last 100 years this has changed. Throughout Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, written in the 1800’s. many issues are raised towards women and their role in society. In comparison Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice, written a few centuries after, shows a clear link of how particular concerns, held by society, have altered. A women living in the late 1800’s had very few rights and freedoms. Education was a thing men and if a women engaged in such activities she was at risk of being shunned by society or “left on the shelf.” Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice follows a young girl, Elizabeth Bennet, who struggles against society’s expectations. Being a smart and well educated women, she is somewhat frowned upon, however this has been disguised by Austen through her dialogue. An example is seen near the beginning of the book in which Mr Darcey and Mr Binley’s brother are engaged in polite conversation. Darcey’s constant want to read prompts Binley’s brother to state “he studies too much.” This dialogue employed by Austen raises an important issue, though disguised in polite conversation. The effect of this shows us, as the reader, the view that society held towards being too educated, and this was directed at a man! In contrast Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice raises almost the complete opposite view of education. Aunty Fay is a concerned Aunt who is trying to get her neice, Alice, to engage in studies, however Alice’s interests lie elsewhere. Aunty Fay’s frustration is seen when she incorporates imperative mood when Alice did not listen to her, “I warned you not to, now take the consequences.” This shows us that Alice’s lack of interest to obtain

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