Marriage Proposals in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Romance Versus Security.
"It is universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a
good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
These are the words of Jane Austen, and like many people of her time,
she believed very much in the importance of finding a wealthy husband
for young women.
Jane Austen's novel reflects the importance of marriage to many people
around 1775. Although events such as the industrial revolution were
sweeping the country, these were ignored and the life of a few middle
class families in a country village were depicted. Marriage at this
time was a way of securing a happy livelihood and relative happiness;
love was not really a factor, marriage was a source of financial
security. Being more of a convenience than a romantic affair. However
this was beginning to become a factor as traditions slowly changed
around this period. Still many women married to their advantage; there
was still a very rigid class system although a new middle class was
beginning to emerge. The alternative was life as a governess, which
was not one of great social status. Jane Austen believed that marriage
"The only honourable provision for well educated young woman of small
This wasn't a romantic union; it was a contract.
A character that does value the importance of marriage for her
daughters is Mrs. Bennet.
" The business of her life was to get her daughters married."
This is because her current home, Longbourn estate, is entailed to a
cousin Mr. Collins. This means when Mr. Bennet dies Mr. Collins is
heir and the Bennet sisters would either have to rely on the
hospitality of their male relative or become a governess. This soon
becomes apparent to Mrs. Bennet and she sees it as imperative that her
daughters are married off.
In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet receives two proposals of
marriage the first from her cousin the bumbling Mr. Collins. The
Bennet family had received a letter prior to his arrival; the
impression put across is that Mr. Collins is long winded and all over
a bit of a fool. This letter prepares the family and the reader for
the arrival of a pompous egotist. Mrs. Bennet is excited about his
arrival, as it is clear he is passing on marital business, causing
great interest among the sisters and above all Mrs. Bennet. At the
Netherfield ball he makes a complete show of himself as he lacks
decorum and etiquette. His inability to dance is a cause of amusement
to the characters and the reader.
"The first two dances, however, brought a return of distress; solemn,
apologising instead of intending."
He unwittingly introduces himself to Darcy and recieves a cold
Whilst joining in the festivities, it becomes clear that Collins