cried his wife impatiently

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Historical | Title: Pride and Prejudice (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 1

Mrs. Bennet, full of urgent news, has to contend with a husband whose silences and ironies drive her to desperation.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennets' respective characters are exhibited entirely through their dialogue from now until the chapter's end, excepting the final paragraph. Austen's extensive use of direct speech does much to give her novels their sense of immediacy. As her characters do from one another, we learn much about them not only from what they choose to say but how they say it. Austen learned her ear for dialogue from plays she and her siblings put on of contemporary comedies and from writing their own plays for family performances.

The reader gains much from pausing to read aloud portions of her dialogue to catch the rhythms of the sentences and overtones of the words. Given Austen's emphasis on conversational dialogue, we require our ears as well as our eyes at various points throughout the novel, for it's often the case we hear things we cannot see. 

return to text