Pride and Prejudice: Marriage
Essay written by Maria Engstrom
For this essay, I chose to read the perhaps most famous book by the English author Jane Austen.
During the reading I was thinking about which theme I should choose to write about and analyze, and
eventually I felt that marriage was the central keyword in the book. I will concentrate on the situation
of the daughters in the family, since these are the best described in the novel. My dealing with
different ideals and problems within a marriage will be illustrated with examples from the text.
"Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so
well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.
They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is
better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."
This is a quote from Charlotte Lucas, one of the female characters in the novel, and a quote which
very well exemplify the general feelings against marriage for the period and the people in upperclass
Marriage is central for all characters in the novel: not just daughters and sons, but parents, aunts,
uncles and everybody else who has some interest in the subject. Though it is of course most in the
interest of the daughter herself to get married, the interests of the own family can be important for the
choice of husband and wife. It is not appropriate for the daughter to choose whoever she likes for her
husband, which she- if she wants a happy marriage- is not very likely to do. I will discuss the reasons
for the careful choice of a proper husband below.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in
want of a wife"
This is the first line in the novel, which clearly shows the connection between money and marriage. It
lies in the interest of a woman to marry a man with a fortune, or at least some good deal of money.
The husband is meant to support his wife, since he is the one with a profession and she is not
(something that will be discussed further down). So, naturally, personal attractions are weighed
against financial considerations. This is why Mrs. Gardiner does not think Wickham a very prudent
man for Elizabeth; because of his want of fortune. Or as Jane says when she hears of Lydia's
elopement with Wickham: "So imprudent a match on both sides!...my father can give her nothing".
Since money is so important, Wickham tries to elope with Georgiana Darcy only because of her
fortune of £30,000 since the property of a woman automatically becomes the property of the husband
in the marriage.
Marriage was therefore a great security for a happy life since there was nothing like the social
security, old age pensions or health insurances we are provided with today.