In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the novel portrays predominantly wealthy, Caucasian characters. There are no African American or other ethnicities present in the novel.
Unlike Pride and Prejudice, however, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is bursting with altogether unusually illustrated ethnicities. Although both were written before the 20th century, there is an obvious difference in the use (or lack thereof) of diversity and ethnicities.In Pride and Prejudice, all characters are Caucasian, ignoring the existence of any other ethnicity. This is due to the predominantly wealthy background of almost all the characters. Mostly coming from the slave trade, it would have been very difficult for an African American to be part of the wealthy aristocracy.
Austen used her novel as a platform to intensify the voices and issues of the women of her time, but lacked to address the issues of race. With the lack of different ethnicities and diversity, the novel lacks different cultural and social beliefs and aspects and is rather one-dimensional. By ignoring all other ethnicities other than Caucasian, Pride and Prejudice illustrates the cultural beliefs from that time: that of snobbery, ignorance and exclusion. ?In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, however, different ethnicities are represented as different personified animals in the novel.
For example, during her encounter with the Caterpillar, he asks Alice who she is but she cannot answer him, which suggest that Lewis Carroll was mindful of and particular when selecting the identities of those who spoke. In the beginning of the novel, Alice is very selfish and concerned with her identity. While meeting a mouse, Alice ignores the Mouse’s, fear of cats and continues their conversation, only upsetting it more.
This highlights Carroll’s underlying theme that Alice has to learn how to empathize with those who are different to grow as an individual. With the help of the diverse creatures of Underworld, and more particularly the personified animals, Alice has turned from selfish and unable to consider the feelings of others, to having learned empathy and the importance of diversity.While both of these novels were written before modern times, there is a stark difference between the two concerning the representation of ethnicities. Whereas Caucasian characters dominated Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland illustrated diversity through the use of personified animals.
Although there have been many adaptations to Pride and Prejudice, such as Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, it is seemingly easier for audiences to imagine a world of zombies before incorporating people of color. The use of different ethnicities in writing gives it cultural significance and importance.