The Different Types Of Marriages Presented In Pride And Prejudice

1667 words - 7 pages

Discuss the different types of marriages presented in Pride and
Prejudice and what this tells you about the different attitudes to
marriage in the early nineteenth century.

Austen opens this book with a cynical commentary on the Eighteenth
Century conception of the value of love - 'It is a truth universally
acknowledged that a gentleman in possession of a good fortune must be
in want of a wife'!

Throughout the book, there are many insights into different beliefs on
why to marry. Marrying for money was very popular, followed by lust,
calculated marriages and arranged marriages. Something not as often
thought about were love marriages. “Happiness in marriage is entirely
a matter of chance”. This was mainly because parents either rushed
their children into marriage, or convinced them that love marriages
don’t always bring money. Also, Fathers such as Mr Bennet who talks of
his daughters as being “four of the silliest girls in the country”
gives the impression that parents want to give their daughters away to
the richest people that come their way.

Jobs for young women were scarce in Jane Austen’s time because of a
lack of education available to them. This was because university
places were not open to women, nor were professions or politics. This
made a successful career highly unlikely. One way for a young woman to
acquire wealth and status was to marry someone rich. Inheriting money
was another option however it was made difficult as the eldest son of
the family usually got most of the inheritance. Women tended not to
live alone. A young, never-married female with money was not allowed
to set herself up as head of the household she had to hire an older
lady “companion”. Even Queen Victoria had to have her mother living
with her until she married Albert. It was frowned upon for a young
woman to move out of the family home or her approved accommodation
e.g. with friends or at school. It was deemed very serious to do this
and a sign of a drastic change such as entering an illicit
relationship or marrying a man who didn’t meet with the approval of
the family. All of this made some women want to marry as soon as
possible to get financial security and social status, or to get out of
an unhappy family situation. Family might also add to the pressure to
get married, not wanting their daughter to be an “old maid”. Being in
this situation herself Austen portrays the hard life women had through
the women in the story.

Darcy and Lizzie’s relationship is the strongest, one based on
opposites, where he is rich but she is poor, he is reserved with his
feelings where as she is open to tell them, he is intense and serious,
and Lizzie has a “lively, playful disposition”. But within this there
is an understanding of themselves and each other. Her feelings for Mr
Darcy are more based on physical attraction along with a mutual
chemistry. This shows an alternative view to Lizzie’s sister Lydia and
her good friend...

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