The Attitudes Toward Marriage in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austin wrote the novel Pride and Prejudice in 1813. The novel
provides a great deal of information and gives us a detailed insight
to the different attitudes towards marriages at the time. Pride and
Prejudice is focused and written about the lifestyles among "gentry".
The "gentry" was the middle to upper class citizens in England. In the
novel Jane Austin shows us that social status is a very important
factor and that is was essential to have connections with people
higher up in the gentry.
Proposals and marriages at the time were very different that they are
today. Most people who get married today are genuinely marring their
partner because they love each other. However in the 18th century
proposals of marriages were made with the couple meeting only a few
times, and these meetings were usually at balls or gatherings and were
often very brief. The couple were very rarely alone and did not get
the chance to talk to the other. This is presented well with Mr
Collins's proposal. Mr Collin's never meet Elizabeth and before he
even arrives to the Bennet's house he has already decided that he is
going to marry one of them.
Jane Austin also shows us that marriages were also a way of improving
your lifestyle and family's connections. However in the 18th century
it was unheard of and very rare to marry anybody who was lower or
higher than you in social class, and stature. For example when Mrs
Bennet learns of Netherfeild being taken "by a man of large fortune"
who earns four or five thousand a year, and is of single status, she
goes wild and all she can focus on is getting her daughters married
off to this man, Mr Bingly, who earns a large fortune. This shows us
how important it was to marry a person who was richer and higher than
yourself just so that you could improve your status and stature.
Most marriages into richer families gave women the chance to be secure
in their future life and to improve their status. This shows that
marriages were more like business deals, for money or shares, and
rarely ever for love. This is the same situation faced by Elizabeth
when Mr Collins's proposes to her. "Almost as soon as I entered the
house, I singled you out as the companion of my future lifeâ€¦ perhaps
it would be advisable for me to state my reasons for marriage." This
proposal to Elizabeth is quite insulting and shows that Mr Collins
does not care for Elizabeth's feelings, and shows that Mr Collins is
intent on marrying Elizabeth for reasons, not for love.
An important reason that Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth is because
when Mr Bennet dies the Bennet's house and grounds will all go to Mr
Collins. The proposal of marriage by Mr...