Literary Devices in Pride and Prejudice

Literary Devices Examples in Pride and Prejudice:

Chapter III 2

"Nothing could be more delightful...."   (Chapter III)

Lady Lucas’s report of Mr. Bingley departs from the third-person narrator’s voice without sacrificing objectivity. We still have an outside narrator telling us what she said, but it’s as though she is the one telling us; therefore, we have a simultaneously objective and exclusive account of events. This literary device (free indirect discourse) not only makes the narrator more varied and interesting, but also more efficient. Austen can quickly develop minor characters like Lady Lucas without spending time on lengthy dialogues, which is the only other way we would have access to a single character’s thoughts in a third-person narrative.

"Nothing could be more delightful. ..."   (Chapter III)

This section is an example of “free indirect discourse,” which blends third and first-person points of view so the narrative is more colloquial than usual. Third-person point of view is told by an outside narrator, so it’s more objective but offers limited access to characters’ thoughts and feelings. First-person point of view is narrated by a single character, so it’s more exclusive (we have access to thoughts that a third-person narrator likely can’t give us) but not nearly as objective. Free indirect discourse gives us the best of both worlds: exclusive access to characters’ thoughts while still remaining objective.

"repeated three or four times how much they were grieved, how shocking it was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked being ill themselves..."   (Chapter VIII)

This is another example of free, indirect discourse. The narrator is giving us the Bingley sisters’ speech as though they are speaking themselves. Given that they promptly “thought no more of the matter,” it’s clear that the Bingley sisters are being far from genuine. They do not care about Jane’s health.

"Engaged to Mr. Collins! my dear Charlotte—impossible!..."   (Chapter XXII)

Grammatically-incorrect or incomplete sentences are relatively rare in Austen's works; here, they are used to emphasize Elizabeth's shock and disdain, especially since Elizabeth is ordinarily well-spoken.

"from his amiable..."   (Chapter XXV)

Austen employs "free indirect discourse" here by imitating Mr. Collins's own speaking style. Free indirect discourse allows the narrator to subtly mock Mr. Collins's pompous, grandiose style of speaking, while also remaining in the third person.

"Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him...."   (Chapter XXXII)

At this moment, Mrs. Collins is the only character who is aware of Mr. Darcy's growing feelings for Elizabeth. Austen shifts the narrative to Mrs. Collins's point of view, which further develops her character and further complicates the plot.

"receive with gratitude..."   (Chapter LVIII)

Austen is notorious for featuring rather anti-climactic acceptances to proposals. The narrator may seem to nonchalantly summarize Elizabeth's acceptance of Mr. Darcy's proposal; however, one might read this seeming nonchalance as a moment of ecstatic incoherence for an otherwise eloquent character.