Portrayal of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice portrays varying attitudes to marriage. "The intricate social network that pervades the novel is one that revolves around the business of marriage". Through her female characters the reader sees the different attitudes to marriage and the reasons that these women have for marrying. These depend on their social status and their personal values. The reader is shown the most prevalent and common view of marriage held by society in Austen's time, and through the heroine, a differing opinion of marriage is explored. We are shown how marriage is viewed by the very wealthy and the values they emphasise in marriage. Through the characterisation of these women and use of irony, Austen has influenced the reader's opinions on the characters attitude about marriage and that of their contemporaries.
Charlotte Lucas's views on marriage conform to those of contemporary society. For Charlotte, ' situation' is all. She requires no emotional motivation, only a willingness to participate in the arrangement.
marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable
provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and
however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest
preservative from want.
She does not need even a pleasing manner from her husband, as is evident from her choice in Mr. Collins. She does not believe that love is necessary for marriage and thinks that a woman should take the first opportunity offered to her in marriage, and, possibly it could lead to love. This is evident from her comments to Lizzie in reference to Jane and Mr. Bingley.
When she is secure of him, there will be leisure for falling
in love as much as she chuses .
As an intelligent woman, she is aware of the flaws in Mr. Collins' character,
he was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome,
and his attachment to her must be imaginary .
She perceives that their personalities are not compatible and realises that there will never be suitable feeling or passion between them to legitimise a happy, functioning marriage. But convenience is all that she is concerned with. She believes "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance".
and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and
disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon
that establishment were gained .
Charlotte believes herself to be lucky by obtaining the hand of Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is a respectable man of moderate fortune. He occupies a suitable position as a clergyman and the parsonage is within a tolerable travelling distance from Lucas Lodge. Considering her values on marriage she is entirely satisfied.
Through Charlotte, Austen has presented the commonly accepted views of her time about women and their place in society. They were expected to be accepting and grateful of the first...