Compare and Contrast ‘Teresa’s Wedding’ by William Trevor and ‘The Three Sisters’ by Jan Austen

Published: 2021-08-02 18:30:08
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Category: Irony, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Type of paper: Essay

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In this essay, I will be comparing the two short stories - 'Teresa's Wedding' written by William Trevor and 'The three sisters' which was written by Jane Austen. Trevor's story written in the 20th century is set in Ireland while on the other hand; Austen's story was situated pre -twentieth century in the old 19th century England.
Although both these stories are based upon marriage and how marriage is reflected within the eyes of the community it can be speculated that each author wants to show the audience a different view point on what they think towards the concept of marriage and the true value of it. For example, William Trevor uses a close and detailed description to create a sense of character and tone. This can be seen at the wedding reception at the bar in 'Teresa's Wedding' where he talks about the confetti:
'it lay thickly on the remains of the wedding cake, on the surface of the bar and the piano, on the table and on the two small chairs that the lounge bar contained' From looking at this we can immediately see that William Trevor is writing in detail and makes the audience read beneath the surface of the passage. The use of detail description makes the reader want to read on and as they read they are unveiling new things from the text. William Trevor has cleverly made the audience read in detail as each thing he describes gets described in more and more depth - he is making us read on because we want to find out more about the wedding reception. Furthermore Trevor's characters are also described in detail and get developed through the description. Loretta, one of the bride's sisters is 'small and brown'. This emphasises that Trevor is trying to tell us something. Unlike Trevor, Jane Austen on the other hand does not describe any of her characters in depth. Instead Austen builds up a sense of character through her letters and dialogue. This is clearly portrayed in the character of Mary Stanhope when she talks about herself getting married.



'I am the happiest creature in the world, for I have received an offer of marriage from Mr Watts. It is the first time...' Jane Austen here engages and alerts the audience's presence as she uses a formal manner of tone and repeatedly uses first person narrative -'I'. The purpose of this is to make the author seem invisible and makes the reader feel as though they are being spoken to by someone that is not the writer. Also Jane Austen makes the audience aware that the character speaking is young as she writes - 'it is my first time'. Furthermore when Mary Stanhope is writing to Fanny she uses some youthful phrases such as 'I hate him'. The tone is personal and is directly addressing the reader as 'I', which in turn makes the sentence feel conversational. The fact that it is written in the first person, the text addresses the reader as second person and therefore giving an intimate tone. Another major difference between the two stories is that 'Teresa's Wedding' is a traditional story that creates tension and builds up to a intensifying climax unlike the 'the three sisters' which is just a series of letters. As readers it is easy to take note that in 'the three sisters' that Mary Stanhope is trying to get one over on her two sisters - Georgiana and Sophia.
'It will be such a triumph to be married before Sophy, Georgina and the Duttons'
From looking at the text above we as readers can see that to Mary Stanhope it is just about getting one over on her sisters and does not value the true meaning of love. To a certain extent we can say that she behaves much like a child - it is as if the character behind the eyes of her is just an innocent child who has not grown up yet. Jane Austen here is trying to show the audience that Mary still a girl in some sense who is still growing up.
In addition to this, Mary Stanhope seems to be self centred, judgemental and very conscientious compared to her other sisters. She appears to be changing her mind a lot about Mr Watts - 'I hate him' and 'I am the happiest creature in the world'. She is contradicting herself which can also show that she is very judgemental and juvenile. The text and the different moods that Jane Austen has applied to the character of Mary Stanhope is intelligent in some way as she creates humour as we read on. In other words she has very cleverly secreted the irony of the humour within the passage itself, so as a result the reader has to unveil the irony as they read. Furthermore when we look at the attitudes of Mary we can see that the attitudes of women have changed these days. The fact that women these days are not concerned about their social status and being the first girl to marry in the family contrasts with the idea of Mary who is in turn looking for pride, status and independence - Mary is very materialistic.
In contrast to this, 'Teresa's Wedding' by William Trevor does not follow the idea of the eldest girl having to be the first girl to marry in the family as to being a triumph, but instead William Trevor wants to show his audience the true meaning of love and its value. Even though Teresa cheated on Artie, William Trevor show the reader that even in times of badness couples can make it through if the love for each other is strong enough . The key moments in the story are when Father Hogan says about Artie and Teresa:
' Isn't it great that God gave them life' and when Artie asks Teresa:
' Did Screw Doyle take you into the field' From looking at these texts we can see the importance of the plot and tension because the story is about Artie and Teresa getting married and when Father Hogan says that its great that God gave life to Artie and Teresa we can see the irony in contrast to Teresa cheating on Artie with Screw Doyle. The fact that Father Hogan said what he had that led up to a tense climax. From above William Trevor like Jane Austen have many similarities in their work as they both use irony. The usage of irony in Father Hogan's case makes the audience understand that there is more to what is being said than the literal meaning of it.
If we compare the different sentence structures each novelist uses we can see that Jane Austen in 'The Three Sisters' tends to use a mixture of simple, compound, complex and varied sentence structures. For example and during many points in letter 1 she uses a complex sentence structures:
'He said he should come again tomorrow and take my final answer, so I believe I must get him while I can. The usage of longer sentences sometimes explain difficult or tense situations, to suggest characters confusion and also gives the passage a continuous flow to it and as a result makes the reader read on. Also when Jane Austen employs a simple sentence when Mary believes that she should have Mr Watts - 'I believe that I should have him' it creates a sense of excitement and makes the reader read faster.
Overall if we look at both stories it is possible to compare and contrast many aspects of these stories. The fact that both the stories differ it reflects the author's differing concerns. Jane Austen is primarily seeking to address to the audience that Love and Society as it stands today have hardly any resemblance of any sort in relation with her story. Where Mary Stanhope says that Mr Watts has 'a large fortune' but she 'cannot stand him' and 'he is very healthy' reflects what the women of today want - They want husbands in sickness and in health and value their love not take them for granted. In contrast to this, William Trevor his trying to show his audience that love can be salvaged if the bond and care between the couple is strong enough:
'She felt that she and Artie might make some kind of marriage together because there was nothing that could be destroyed, no magic' We can see that through William Trevor's eyes he thinks that if love is such a powerful element then it can withstand anything, even deceit. I think that although Jane Austen and William Trevor have different ideas towards love and society they have both accomplished their aims as they present these ideas to audience which makes them understand. For example, the irony both authors employ towards love make the reader unveil the humour which is hidden or secreted within the passages and it is this tool which makes the reader appreciate the true meaning of love and its value.
Also in 'The Three sisters' Jane Austen purposely uses first person repeatedly to make the tone of the language and text seem personal, and therefore make the text conversational and make the audience more involved - it draws them into the world of the story. Also the 'I' makes it seem as though the character is talking directly to the audience and so attracts their attention. Furthermore I think William Trevor has produced such a good story as he likes following the character very closing and explains them in detail and therefore allows the reader to pay close attention to what is going on.

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