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An Exploration of Letter-Writing in Jane Austen's Work


Nair, Maitreyi A. (2018) An Exploration of Letter-Writing in Jane Austen's Work. Other, California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/r8m4-1a16.


As a medium of communication, written letters stand apart not only in the intimacy of the connection they spark between writer and recipient but also in the very real, tangible nature of their existence. Jane Austen's use of written letters as key literary devices, especially in Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion, reflects her dexterity at exploring and developing the intricate web of social connection among her characters, particularly in the courtship plot. These letters seek to express what cannot be said aloud, overstepping whatever walls that have been put up by social convention or emotion in an attempt to reach directly to a person’s mind or heart. Almost as illuminating as the contents of the letters themselves is their sheer materiality – as readers, we are allowed to observe the process of their writing, seeing as they are handled, passed from person to person, read and re-read. In painting such a detailed, viscerally relatable picture of the exchange of these letters, Austen elevates them from words inked on a paper to something sacred, adding dimension to the novel by binding together the thoughts and emotions of characters in ways that dialogue or gestures alone cannot.

Item Type:Thesis (Other)
Subject Keywords:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize ; Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize - English ; Hixon Writing Center
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:English
Awards:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize - English, 2018.
Thesis Availability:Restricted to Caltech community only
Research Advisor(s):
  • Gilmartin, Kevin M.
Group:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize, Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize - English, Hixon Writing Center
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:9 March 2018
Additional Information:En 127 - Prpf.Kevin Gilmartin – Jane Austen – Final Essay.
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07102018-135245331
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11107
Deposited By: Leslie Rico
Deposited On:12 Jul 2018 20:45
Last Modified:29 Sep 2020 18:58

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