For Love Or Money: Marriage In Jane Austen’s Time

2484 words - 10 pages

Women of the 1800’s were very limited in what they could do in life - especially the women of the upper and middle classes. They were expected to do nothing more than marry and to marry well. If they could not do this, the life that they faced was very grim. It would be a life of spinsterhood and being cared for by other family members, or working as a governess for some upper class family.
Jane Austen’s book, Pride and Prejudice, shows the reader the importance of marrying, and, hopefully, marrying well, but also the important of marrying for love. Jane Austen was born in1775, and the world that she grew up in was one that was very limited for women. Jane was very lucky in the fact that her parents knew how important an education was for all children. She was sent to school, but she received most of her education at home from the books in her father’s library. David Nokes states in his book, Jane Austen, A Life, that “at an early age, Jane had determined that, whatever else might be her fate, she would not indulge the role of charming female imbecile” (103). In her book, Austen shows us many different characters and how they go about the whole game of marriage. There are five relationships depicted in the book: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, Lydia and Wickham, Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
Mrs. Bennett is described in the book as being “a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper” (Austen 269). She is a woman with five daughters and her goal in life is to see them all married and hopefully married well. In Understanding Pride and Prejudice, Debra Teachman suggests that “Mrs. Bennet does not have the discernment to be of a real help to her daughters in the search for appropriate mates, but she does understand their need to find them (5). This does show us that Mrs. Bennet cares for her daughters, but she is not the very best of parents. She is willing to give away her daughters to almost any well-off and available man. This makes Mrs. Bennet look greedy and unrefined in her pursuit of sons-in-laws. Because of her actions, Jane and Elizabeth are similarly characterized by Mr. Darcy.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennett do not have the very best marriage. They have been married for twenty-three years, but most of them perhaps unhappy years. When they married, Mr. Bennet saw only the youth and beauty of his wife and not the weak understanding and intolerant mind. As their marriage matured, these later traits led him to resent his wife and make her the brunt of his sarcastic humor. Mr. Bennet has little to no love for his three youngest daughters. He finds them to be silly and uninformed. As for Jane and Elizabeth, the older daughters, his opinion is much different. He sees that Jane has beauty and a goodness of nature that recommends her to all, but it is his dearest Lizzy that is his favorite. She is intelligent and has a strong character that is not seen in any of her...

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