Pride and Prejudice has been criticised among the literary community for the narrator thought to be from the view of Elizabeth is often counter argued by someone else saying that the narrator is an omniscient third person narrator. The narration of Pride and Prejudice is typically done by Elizabeth in many views, although it occasionally gives us information that Elizabeth is not aware of, which therefore makes us come to the conclusion that it is not Elizabeth narrating the book.
The third person narrative gives a plain view of the novel in the sense of the dialogue, opinions and the events which are dominating throughout the novel rather than emotions. Elizabeth Bennet sometimes excludes from this rule, for example in chapter 36, this chapter is devoted entirely to Elizabeth’s emotional transformation right after the letter she received from Darcy. Although even though we do often get to hear the thoughts of other characters in the novel, it is mostly in shorter bursts compared to Elizabeth’s more complex outbursts.
The narrator is using free indirect discourse or speech to show the reader the characters thoughts or spoken words, but without quotation marks. It let’s the reader know some of Elizabeth’s bad judgements against others like Darcy at the beginning of the novel. The use of dialogue brings forth veracity, which makes the reader question which character is to be believed. Although at the same time the truthfulness of the narrator themselves can be questioned.
The veracity of Elizabeth’s dialogue is strengthened when the narrator doesn’t employ a detached narrative voice to describe the characters thoughts but is focalizing the proceeding through the character of Elizabeth, which is therefore meaning that the reader views the story from Elizabeth’s perspective. Seeing the story through Elizabeth’s eyes yet via the narrator’s voice, for example “the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble… She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say”. It is therefore showing as a means of empathy of the reader in the part of Elizabeth.
The use of the direct speech is a means of artistically orchestrating the voices of the two main roles of Darcy and Elizabeth. The line: “tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield” on page 33 isn’t spoken by any particular character, neither directly, through the use of any dialogue, or indirectly, as in employing indirect speech. The narrator is using free indirect speech. The voice appears to be that of the narrator, although it has temporarily adopted the style and intonation of Lydia, the youngest Bennet sister.
The line however isn’t focalized through this character as the reader isn’t given Lydia’s perspective, such as earlier in this paragraph where the viewpoint was clearly that of Elizabeth. It is also important to realize that Elizabeth’s thoughts were not conveyed through a process of free indirect speech as there was no slippage into her manner of articulation. The omniscient narrator enters a brief stage of suspense as the novel’s two principal characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, step forth to convey the story in their own words.
For example the reader is instantly able to discern the contrast of opinion between Elizabeth and Darcy, in one of the instances it is their views on poetry. The use of the direct speech is a means of artistically orchestrating these voices. The narrative voice that has been present throughout Pride and Prejudice is an anonymous, omniscient or all knowing one which shifts between simply relating to events as they occur, reflecting on such events and sometimes directly giving opinions of the characters.
Austen’s narrative voice is as much an invented persona as the rest of the characters in the novel itself. Through this persona, Auten has been able to tell the story by another perspective and directly influence the reader’s opinions of the characters themselves. Thus this is a very effective method in conveying certain messages about the characters, more so than if Austen had chosen to write in another narrative voice like the first person.