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Growing up is the journey of discovering who you are on the inside, the search for your identity so you can understand others and more importantly, yourself. The novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, the movie “Muriel’s Wedding” by P.J Hogan and the poem “Death of a Naturalist” by Seamus Heaney all explore the issues surrounding growing up using various techniques.


In the novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, many techniques are used to demonstrate the growth of Elizabeth Bennet. In the first half of the novel Elizabeth is quite biased towards others. While dancing with Mr Darcy a conversation about books begins with Mr Darcy asking what Elizabeth thinks of books, to which Elizabeth replies “Books � Oh! No. � I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings” This is an example of Jane Austen’s irony. Elizabeth judges Darcy to be harsh and self centred as she is under the impression that he disapproves of her. She believes they could never agree on literature when it is indeed quite the opposite. Austen uses irony to show Elizabeth’s distorted view that she and Darcy are nothing alike when the two are actually very similar.


The dialogue in Pride and Prejudice is one of the most important techniques as it shows the relationships between characters and also the realisation of self.


“How despicably have I acted!” Elizabeth cries. Using dialogue is one of Austen’s talents as she shows how a character is from what is said and how it’s said. Elizabeth has realised how truly prejudiced she has been and is quite disgusted with herself. Part of growing up is realising who you really are and Elizabeth has come into this self-realisation. During a later conversation with her father, Elizabeth takes a stand and objects to Darcy being a ‘proud, unpleasant sort of man’. “I do, I do like him…no improper pride…perfectly amiable…then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.” This shows quite a great deal of growth, as at the beginning of the novel Elizabeth was quite prejudiced to Darcy and now she is in love with him.


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Letters are used in Pride and Prejudice to accompany dialogue. The characters use letters to describe their views and opinions with unbridled freedom, which only comes in a letter. “Mr Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sister’s fortune.” During and after reading the letter Darcy wrote, Elizabeth goes through many emotions, Elizabeth is first eager to read, but when the letter turns to the subject of Wickham she wished to discredit it, and hastily put it away, telling herself she would never look at it again, yet half a minute later she was reading it again. Because the letter was cleverly written and planned it was very intimate and enlightening. Elizabeth’s reaction to this letter is crucial to her growing up. She admits she can be prejudiced in her judgement, and also begins to realise the true worth of both Darcy and Wickham.


Though written around 00 years later then “Pride and Prejudice” “Muriel’s Wedding” by P.J Hogan embraces the same issues of growing up. The two leading ladies, Elizabeth and Muriel are both growing up in a society where marriage is a predominant issue that their characters are involved in. They are both trying to discover themselves in a world that wont wait for them, they must discover themselves while discovering the truth of others.


The dialogue in Muriel’s Wedding stands out as a key feature. At the beginning of “Muriel’s Wedding” Muriel views marriage as the most important thing to achieve, she is determined to be married and this is shown strongly in the dialogue. During an early conversation with her family Muriel’s father is discussing Muriel and her brothers and sisters. They are described as “Useless, useless no-hopers.” This establishes an early relationship between the viewer and Muriel as the viewer is able to sympathise and see how horribly Muriel is regarded by her father. To her mother Muriel reacts with “I’m going to be a success…get married…be a success” This counteracts the viewers’ knowledge of how immature Muriel really is. “If I can get married it means that I’ve changed. That I’m a new person.” Following her mother’s death Muriel and David make love and after waking up Muriel has changed, she has matured. “I can’t stay married to you…stop lying now…I don’t love you.” Through dialogue we see Muriel grow up, realising that marriage isn’t everything.


The costuming of Muriel’s Wedding is quite outrageous, ranging from 70’s Abba style gear to Black PVC and Leather. The opening scene at the Wedding introduces Muriel in an animal print outfit, which is very short and quite tight. This symbolises Muriel’s need for attention and popularity, in this outfit Muriel is the centre of attention. Red lipstick smeared on Muriel’s lips is representative of her immaturity and childlike desire of marriage. It looks like cheap, two-dollar lipstick a child would buy to try and appear ‘grown up.’ Muriel’s hair is in a wild 70’s style, which also represents her need for attention. During the middle of the movie Muriel is trying to yet again be the centre of attention by wearing skin-tight black leather pants and top. Her hairstyle is now modern and mature and Muriel’s makeup is more subdued and less like a five-dollar hooker. At the ending of the movie Muriel is more mature and natural. Her clothing and makeup are modern and classy, this is a vast change to the beginning of the movie, and the growth is obvious.


The characterisation of Muriel is exceptional and we feel a true empathy for her. During ‘The Bouquet” Muriel describes herself as “not normal” and says she can change; this shows the immaturity of Muriel. She is willing to change herself, just because of Tania and friends. Muriel at this stage is obsessed with getting married; her walls are adorned with pictures of brides. Muriel is also a big ABBA fan and this imposes on her everyday life through dress and music. “Sydney, City of Brides” is mainly concerned with Muriel trying to change herself without much luck. After changing her name to ‘Mariel’ Muriel takes on a new self, she states that she is ‘never going back to being her again.’ This shows immaturity again as Muriel believes that she can go on being a totally different person.


“Mariel’s Wedding” shows true change for Muriel as she realises that being married isn’t all she really wants. Her mother over-dosing and passing away strikes a spark in Muriel and after making love to David, Muriel leaves him, saying that she has to stop lying and that she doesn’t love him. This shows immense growing up. Muriel has found herself and realised that she has what she needs to be happy inside of her and doesn’t need someone else to make her complete.


According to Seamus Heaney childhood is “generally preparation for disappointment” this is reflected in his poem “Death of a Naturalist” as the title suggests the poem is about the loss of innocence and vitality children contain. Heaney uses simplistic language to convey the simple existence of children. “Miss Walls … Daddy frog was called a bullfrog…mammy frog” This suggests the language a primary teacher would use to explain something to a young child. This helps us to understand the world through a child’s eyes. “Bluebottles wove…around smell” represents the death of a human. From something old something new and wonderful is born. Heaney uses simple language and ideas to convey to the life cycle, and the eeriness of growing up.


Heaney uses imagery to convey an innocent, childlike view of the world and then later, a darker, scarier world. “Bubbles gargled…spotted butterflies…clotted water” Heaney uses vibrant images to show the happiness and innocence of the dam to a child. The dangers are hidden and to this child it is a wonderful place. In the second verse of “Death of a Naturalist” the world has appeared to changed. “Angry frogs…obscene threats…mud grenades…blunt heads farting…slime kings” No longer a safe and beautiful place, looking at the dam with a different perspective Heaney creates a intimidating atmosphere. This shows obvious growing up and changing perspectives.


Using poetic techniques of personification, alliteration, hyperbole and metaphor Heaney creates the happiness of a child and disgust of an adult. Using personification in the first verse Heaney creates a delightful atmosphere “Bubbles gargled delicately” and of the “Punishing sun”. In the second verse the mood darkens “That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it”. This shows the different feelings and ideas that children and adults can have about the same issues. “Jampotfuls of the jellied” and “Shelves at school” both have a childlike air to them, again Heaney is trying to show the innocence of children and how only when they grow up they loose the innocence; “Coarse croaking that I had not heard before” suggests that now grown up the child looks at the dam through different eyes. It is rather frightening and intimidating, as the world is after growing up. The line “The great slime kings” displays the terror that a simple frog can hold. By using metephor and hyperbole Heaney creates a giant, dangerous and atrocious monster. To a child it would just be a frog but to an adult it is daunting, facing the consequences of his younger actions.


“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Muriel’s Wedding” by P.J Hogan and “Death of a Naturalist” by Seamus Heaney all convey different ideas about growing up to us. Though written in different time frames all three show that growing up isn’t easy, but when we grow up new doors open.








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