Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Kelly Mays

Second Committee Member

Anne Stevens

Third Committee Member

John Hay

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Tusan

Number of Pages



Though published a year apart, Jane Austen first wrote Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Mansfield Park (1814) at different points in her literary career, the former more closely tied to her juvenilia, the latter considered one of her “mature” works. Despite the time between drafts, both novels contain the most and second most number of letters, respectively, in all her published novels, along with a similar distribution of letters throughout the narratives. Some scholars regard letters in Austen’s published novels as merely a remnant of her epistolary juvenilia, but Austen’s inclusion of letters in her “mature” work, Mansfield Park, demonstrates letters are important to her stories, and we can understand some of this importance by comparing Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. I argue that in Pride and Prejudice, letters prompt and confirm change. Mr. Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth Bennet is the novel’s turning point, forcing the protagonist to reconsider her first readings of Darcy and George Wickham. Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Collins’s letters in the third volume further confirm Elizabeth’s new interpretation of herself and these men. In Mansfield Park, however, letters only confirm Fanny Price’s consistent understanding of the Crawfords and her cousins. Mary Crawford and Edmund Bertram’s letters and a newspaper article in the third volume reinforce Fanny’s reading of others. Everyone else must read as Fanny does to succeed in this novel. By considering Austen’s use of letters in Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, we also understand how she helps her audience read the world around them by first instructing them how to read letters in different ways.


Constancy; Epistolary novel; Jane Austen; Rereading


English Language and Literature

File Format


File Size

719 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026