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“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” With reference to marriages in Pride and Prejudice, to what extent is this statement true?

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Lydia Mason 10Y "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." With reference to marriages in Pride and Prejudice, to what extent is this statement true? Marriage is the key issue in Pride and Prejudice, and Austen uses class structure, manners and proper behaviour in society to embellish the topic. It is the overall picture given by these subjects that tell us about the happiness a woman could expect from entering the state of marriage, whether marrying for love and felicity, or, as seems the wise choice in the case of many of the characters, for money and financial security. Pride and Prejudice explores the situations that many young ladies found themselves put in, and whether or not it was possible to achieve fulfilment and happiness if you were to marry for the latter. In the Bennet household, particularly, marriage is a very poignant subject. For Mrs Bennet, she feels it is essential for her girls (and for herself) that they should marry well, as otherwise they stand to lose everything without a son to take over the estate. Her feelings are made clear at the beginning, once she has heard that a wealthy Mr Bingley has recently moved to the neighbourhood. Without any knowledge or regard for his character, she immediately jumps to the conclusion that it is 'a fine thing for our girls'. This statement is made purely on the awareness of his handsome fortune, and of the happiness and fortune that it could bring her. She uses the word 'girls', and this shows that she doesn't care for individual happiness, but she does want one of them married to him, never mind which. ...read more.


However, the match between herself and Wickham gives them both happiness, and, although her family does not share their feelings, her decision, however misguided, does give her happiness. Prior to the marriage, she writes 'for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel'. This view is in opposition to Charlotte's, that one must marry into good fortune, and then see what happiness may come of it, if any at all. Lydia's perception of Wickham is unchanged when she writes again, once Elizabeth and Darcy are married. She says that 'If you love Mr Darcy half so well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy.' Although on initially embarking on her elopement, the marriage looked as though it was a flirtatious whim, especially on the part of Wickham, by the end, there is no real relationship development, except that they still love each other. From the circumstances surrounding both of their families, it is safe to say that Wickham is not marrying for wealth, it is for his apparent love for Lydia. Previously, he had been engaged to Mary King, a wealthy heiress of ten thousand pounds, and Elizabeth had said of the match 'a wise and desirable measure for both; handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain.' As Colonel Fitzwilliam said of men 'Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money'. However, these same motives are not seen in his match with Lydia, although it is true to say that unless Darcy had intervened, they may not have married. ...read more.


least some amount of time would not have been as morally successful as Elizabeth and Darcy, whose marriage is based on mutual esteem. Whereas Charlotte had thought about the espousal, and then agreed, much to the disdain of her friend, her happiness is impaired, because the marriage is not based on love, as Elizabeth's is, it is principled on common gain, as were many matches in the society. Not only do Darcy and Elizabeth respect and gratify each other, they also share common interests, such as reading, as well as having the same elegant tastes. These qualities ensure happiness, unlike Mr and Mrs Bennet, where stimulation of the mind is essential to one, and stimulation of the tongue necessary for the other. Pride and Prejudice is a very good example of what different types of marriages can achieve: a good home and security, passion and fun or intelligent companionship. Marriage opens up different ways to different types of happiness, but true happiness can only be achieved on the grounds of honour and deference. Lydia, and to some extent Wickham, are happy, despite the different morals in their marriage, when compared to Charlotte and Mr Collins marriage. Darcy and Elizabeth are happy because they knew, appreciated and respected each other before entering matrimony, whereas Wickham and Lydia entered marriage with little but their fancy for each other to base their lives together on. In my opinion, Darcy and Elizabeth's match is better, because their happiness is determined before marriage, not decided afterwards. 'Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance' is true to some marriages, but in a carefully calculated marriage, based on respect, esteem and confidence, the question of chance is indifferent. ...read more.

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