The Social Institution Of Marriage In Jane Austen’s Society
In the following essay I am going to closely examine the proposals of
marriage Elizabeth by her cousin Mr Collins, and aristocrat Mr Darcy.
I am also going to compare and contrast the events of each proposal.
In Jane Austen’s lifetime a women’s status in society came firstly
from her parents and secondly when she married. Jane Austen shows the
marked differences in class frequently, as this was a major feature of
everyday life in the 19th century. Men were seen as being far superior
to women as they were able to work and thus earn a small, and in rare
cases a large fortune. Pride and Prejudice in some ways mirrors Jane
Austen’s own life, as her heart was broken at a tender age. Jane
Austen gave her undying love to her hero Tom Lefroy, however the match
proved incompatible as neither Jane or Tom had a sufficient income to
allow them to live as man and wife. At only twenty Jane Austen’s real
love had come and gone and she never went on to love anyone else.
Pride and Prejudice portrays the struggle for women to find compatible
men, that not only satisfied their own need for love and adoration,
but also suitors that meet their families’ best interests.
In chapter nineteen it becomes clear to the reader that Mr Collins is
interested in Mrs Bennet’s daughters. He firstly questions the
availability of Jane but is told that she is soon to be engaged to Mr
Bingley. After this set back Mr Collins inquires about Elizabeth (the
second eldest daughter of Mrs Bennet.) “ May I hope madam, for your
interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the
honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning.”
Elizabeth tried to interrupt Mrs Bennet to no avail, “ I am sure Lizzy
will be very happy – I am sure she can have no objection.” This shows
that Mrs Bennet is desperate for Elizabeth to go with Mr Collins.
Despite Elizabeth’s pleas of not wanting to spend time alone with Mr
Collins, her mother makes sure she stays with Mr Collins and asks her
to listen to what he’s got to say. “ He can have nothing to say to me
that anybody need not hear.” “ Lizzy I insist upon your staying and
hearing Mr Collins.” This leaves Elizabeth no choice but to spend the
morning with her cousin Mr Collins. After Mrs Bennet has left the
couple Mr Collins’ intentions are clear from the moment he starts
talking, “ Believe me, my dear Elizabeth that your modesty, so far
from doing you any disservice rather adds to your perfections.” This
quotation shows us that Mr Collins is very keen to let Elizabeth know
that he wishes to be seen as a serious suitor. It is also ironic as
Elizabeth is not Mr Collins’s first choice as his preference was Jane.
There follows an equally flattering quote, “ I singled you out as the
companion of my future life. But before I run away with my feeling on
this subject, perhaps it would be advisable to state my reasons for