Essay on prejudice in america

Could not Twain and Austen be seen as such an odd couple? I believe Jane Austen would have enjoyed Mark Twain’s pair of stories called “The Good Little Boy” and “The Bad Little Boy.” Overturning moralistic Sunday school stories, Twain’s superhumanly, ridiculously good little boy meets with a miserable death, while his bad little boy winds up rich and with a seat in the legislature. Austen had commented in a letter, “Pictures of perfection . . .make me sick and wicked.” Overturning conduct books advising girls to be pious, submissive, and ladylike, Austen wrote sketches as a teenager in which heroines get drunk, steal, lie, commit murder, and raise armies, enjoying themselves. Even in her mature works, she presented protagonists devoid of traditionally “heroic” qualities. Note her opening to Northanger Abbey:

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All of Austen’s many characters come alive through dialogue, as the narrative voice in Austen’s work is secondary to the voices of the characters. Long, unwieldy speeches are rare, as are detailed physical descriptions. In their place, the reader hears the crackle of quick, witty conversation. True nature reveals itself in the way the characters speak: Mr. Bennet’s emotional detachment comes across in his dry wit, while Mrs. Bennet ’s hysterical excess drips from every sentence she utters. Austen’s dialogue often serves to reveal the worst aspects of her characters—Miss Bingley’s spiteful, snobbish attitudes are readily apparent in her words, and Mr. Collins’s long-winded speeches (and occasional letters, which are a kind of secondary dialogue) carry with them a tone-deaf pomposity that defines his character perfectly. Dialogue can also conceal bad character traits: Wickham, for instance, hides his rogue’s heart beneath the patter of pleasant, witty banter, and he manages to take Elizabeth in with his smooth tongue (although his good looks help as well). Ultimately, though, good conversational ability and general goodness of personality seem to go hand in hand. It is no accident that Darcy and Elizabeth are the best conversationalists in the book: Pride and Prejudice is the story of their love, and for the reader, that love unfolds through the words they share.

Essay on prejudice in america

essay on prejudice in america

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