“‘How much I shall have to tell!’…‘And how much I shall have to conceal’”: The Interpretation of Speech and Gesture in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
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This essay was written for a Jane Austen seminar in which we studied several of Austen’s books in depth. I was one of the few people in the class who had never studied Austen before, and I will admit that at the start of the class, I was not particularly impressed with Austen’s writing. Throughout the course of the semester, however, my bias was entirely erased, and I developed a deep appreciation for the subtlety and precision of Austen’s novels. As a lover of literary theory, I wanted to write an essay that could blend reader-response theory with some feminist and new historical criticism, and I was delighted to find that Pride and Prejudice was the perfect novel to interpret through these lenses. After realizing that the reader interacts with the novel in the same way characters interact with each other, I decided to write this paper to examine this phenomenon more thoroughly. Although I’ve written many fun essays in my life, I think this was one of the most satisfying, as it gave me the opportunity to really get inside Pride and Prejudice and delight in its subtleties.