Pride And Prejudice: Marrying Someone Due To His Or Her Financial Status

2245 words - 9 pages

The unsuccessful defines the successful. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen paints the lifestyle of the nineteenth century elite, emphasizing the continual struggle to find financial prosperity and matrimonial success. After witnessing shortcomings in several of these matches, Elizabeth, the headstrong Bennet daughter, unearths the formula for a lasting marriage. Austen includes the unfavorable marriage of Charlotte Lucas and the independence of Mary Bennet to convey companionship as the definition of a happy marriage, tying into modern twenty-first century marriages in order to promote the liberty of the individual within these relationships.
Austen juxtaposes the nineteenth century definition of a happy marriage with the opportunistic match of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. Charlotte, a quiet but clandestine young woman, marries Mr. Collins, a hubris gentleman, purely for the opportunity of the moment. She quickly consents to his proposal despite their being intimately unacquainted. Every aspect of their pairing is part of a calculated plan formed by society, binding these two people together for the sole purpose of the image it will portray over the town. However, Austen makes it evident Charlotte is equally aware of her motives towards the marriage, as she commits to Mr. Collins for her “disinterested desire of gaining an establishment” (Austen 97). The potential for property and financial freedom clouts all other reason for marriage and leaves Charlotte blindly accepting his offer, even though her prospect of future happiness remains inauspicious. Austen is giving the stereotypical version of the nineteenth century marriage; it is one of marrying for the prospect of higher societal grounds, and it becomes a pure “want of money” for Charlotte Lucas (145). There is no passion, no affection, and no companionship. The only warmth in the relationship will not stem from love but rather from the custom fireplace in the parlor of their respectable abode. Mr. Collins, unsatisfied with his unwed status, marries the image of being a husband in an effort to gain approval from the upper elitists and to satisfy the “particular advice and recommendation of [a] very noble lady,” his patron (84). Although legalities claim this pairing as a marriage, it is evidently more of a societal scheme used to better the status of the couple. Charlotte plays an equal part in this plan, as she marries the entitlement to property. Their marriage assumes a connotation of numbness and gives the assumption that it is not a truly happy marriage. Charlotte “wisely [does] not hear” her unfitting new husband in order to maintain the portion of her remaining individual freedom (123). This deafness is compensation for the misery of the relationship and the dysfunctional nature of marriages made for reasons other than of finding life-long companionships. It is a coping mechanism. Along with ignoring Mr. Collins benighted conversations, Charlotte must also disregard her own...

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