An Essay Testing the Viability of Peter Brooks’ Theory of Narrative Desire in ‘Reading for the Plot’ Based on Specific Examples from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

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A plot is one of the most critical fundamentals of any form of narrative fiction. Peter Brook emphasizes this aspect and concern in his prose, especially in Reading for the Plot (37). Taking a critical look at the story, there are some elements that Peter Brook tends to draw on and that, in his opinion, are critical in compiling and making a masterful piece of fiction. While he writes about and postulates on several topics in his theory for making a brilliant, eye-catching, and mind-boggling storyline, one of the things worth reflecting on is narrative desire. According to Brook, attraction is the guiding force that propels every story forward. He is of the assumption that, through desire in a narrative, the reader is then able to make sense of the plot which is intertwined and carefully weaved out to the reader through carefully selected words (37). Brook continues to add that desire is often the centerpiece of any great work of literature, and he goes ahead to give several examples to prove that what he is saying is true (38). However, the big question would be, apart from the examples of novels and other literary works given by Brooks in his book, does this theory of narrative desire apply anywhere else? Would this theory stand true if tested in the light of other novelists? This is the aim of this essay. To analyze and approve or disapprove Brook’s theory of narrative theory, this essay will focus on one of the most common and widely read works by a refined writer; Jane Austen. The specific work that will form the basis for this analysis is Pride and Prejudice (1813), the reason being that it was written way ahead and if there is any truth in what Brook is saying. Obviously, this is the best work to use.

Pride and Prejudice is a classic romantic novel, one dotted with many scenes that arouse pleasurable feelings of love in the reader. Narrative desire is a form of writing that has been found to be greatly creative and hence the emphasis by Brooks in an endeavor to encourage more writers to keep this in mind while composing their works. In narrative writing, the aim is on the delay technique and also a building up of the climaxing end rather than the middle. The end goal is allured before the reader, and as curiosity arises in them, the book moves forward, and the story line is developed, making the reader feel the need to pursue this goal to the end and in the process, they are carried along the plot. This is what makes narrative desire so powerful. To illustrate this point, consider the famous Pride and Prejudice (Austen 132). Elizabeth is an object of desire to Darcy, and there is a romantic tension that is elaborately developed in this novel, and one cannot help but wonder what the outcome will be. Interestingly, Elizabeth is not presented until the end, and yet it is obvious that she plays a very important role in the whole story. This is exactly what Brooks talks about when he says that desire creates a paradigm and textural romance between the reader and the work they are reading.

At the same time, it would be worth mentioning the way in which characters are developed in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. A great place to start will be the previous example of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. There seems to be a somewhat mating kind of dance as famously experienced among bird species, their relationship develops linearly and grows amidst uncertain circumstances. It is a love story where their love is forged by a lot of caution and further tempered by time. Connecting this with Brooks’ theory of narrative desire, one gets to understand that indeed the famous quote that the inexpression of love does not necessarily render it nonexistent. However, the truth is that, even though how much circumstances may force people to repress love or rather desire, it does not tend to disappear but only gets displaced. In the end, the same desire returns with greater force and repetitiveness until its voice is heard. This inner struggle of desire is not only experienced in the hearts of the involved characters but also in the mind of the reader. The desire in the narrative makes the reader more engaged and captivated by the plot in a way that they cannot help themselves, but progress to the end of the story.

Following the same route of using examples written in Jane Austen’s books, one discovers that, desire among certain characters is the not the only driving force in developing a great plot for a narrative. In Pride and Prejudice, there is yet another tool that is different and unique altogether from the mutual feelings that are experienced by Elizabeth and Darcy in their conundrum of love. Here, Austen employs the use of books and letters to bring about the same thing that serves a crucial role in bringing the desired end; narrative desire. For the greater part of the parts one and two, Elizabeth Bennett’s ranking socially is a repellant to Darcy. Actually, the positioning of the Bennet sisters’ home is used as a basis for arguing out by Darcy that, that would be the same reason that hinders their landing of reputable men who would ask for their hand in marriage (Austen 33). Lo and behold! The disdain felt by Darcy is turned around when he gets to come upon the fact that the sweet Elizabeth has a preference for reading instead of whiling away playing cards. In the long run, the desire burning in Darcy for a woman that has a passion for books is brought up when he adds reading among the list of qualities that would endear him to a lady.

The use of intimate feelings for on another between Darcy and Elizabeth and also the use of books and letters is a great tool used by Jane Austen to create desire in her novel Pride and Prejudice. The aspect of desire in narrative is also a tool in its own right that is supported and highly emphasized by Brook as a means to a creative end for any writer. These examples prove just how true this theory of narrative desire is. Therefore, in conclusion, it must be said that one way to be above par for any writer must indeed be the employing of desire in writing, through skill that encourages imaginative and captivating reading by anyone who comes upon the written work.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. “Pride and Prejudice. 1813.” Online version http://www. pemberley. com/janeinfo/pridprej. html (1994).

Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot. Vol. 11. New York: Knopf, 1984.

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