Jane Austen’s great skill lies in plot construction. Her skilfully constructed plots are really the highest object of artistic perfection. Her novels have an exactness of structure and symmetry form. All the incidents that are introduced have their particular meanings.
Jane Austen’s plots are not simple but compound. They do not compromise barely the story of the hero and the heroine. In Pride and Prejudice for instance, there are several pairs of lovers and their stories form the component parts of the plot. But the parts are very well wrought together into a single whole. In the novels of Jane Austen the parts skilfully fused together as to form one compact whole.
In the plots of Jane Austen action is more or less eliminated. Action in her consists in little visits, morning calls, weddings, shopping expeditions , or the quizzing of new arrivals. These small actions and incidents go to make up the plots of Jane Austen’s novels. Jane Austen’s novels are not novels of action, but of conversation. The place of action is taken up by conversation and scene after scene is built up by the power of conversations. In Pride and Prejudice, for instance, dialogues form the bulk of the novel. Referring to the great skill Jane Austen’s plot construction. W.L. Cross remarks in The Development of the English Novel : “No novelist since Fielding has been master of structure. Fielding constructed the novel after the analogy of the ancient drama. Pride and Prejudice has not only the humour of Shakespearean comedy but also its technique.”