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Charlotte Lucas says, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." With close reference to two or three marriages presented by Austen, comment on the attitudes shown towards marriage and discuss how these have changed over the past two hundred

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Charlotte Lucas says, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." With close reference to two or three marriages presented by Austen, comment on the attitudes shown towards marriage and discuss how these have changed over the past two hundred years. Marriage is a main theme in Pride and Prejudice. This can be seen by the opening lines of the novel, said by the omniscient narrator, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This opinion stated as a fact, was the typical attitude towards marriage held by the occupants of Regency England and can be seen as the attitude held by most of the characters in the novel, by their actions. For example Charlotte Lucas who believes "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." Over the last two hundred years, attitudes have changed drastically towards marriage. This new attitude can be compared and contrasted to the marriages and view of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Charlotte and Mr. Collins and finally, Elizabeth and Darcy. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's marriage could be seen as representing youth and the passion of the moment, being a poor foundation for lasting happiness. This is shown by Mr. Bennet being captivated by, "youth and beauty", but soon realised that Mrs. ...read more.


This can be seen by, "At the age of twenty-seven, she felt all the good luck for it." At the time, twenty-seven was seen a late age to get married as girls in their late teens were encouraged to marry as soon after their debut into society, as possible. This could be the reason for Charlotte's lack of personal pride and willingness to compromise her true feelings, for marriage. "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." Could be seen as Charlotte demonstrating her disbelief in love and her view that people will never stay the same, however well you know them. "They continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards" shows this. It could also show his lack of trust in those around her. The fact that "the boys were relieved from their apprehension of dying an old maid", could be seen as Austen showing the reader that twenty-seven in Regency England was very late to be married and that also Charlotte's brothers must have been relieved as brothers were expected to take in widowed mothers and unmarried sisters. Mr Collins' attitude towards marriage is that a man of his "status" (a clergy man) should set an example by marrying. He puts this at the top of his list for marrying, "to set the example of matrimony in his parish", this reveals a lot ...read more.


Collin's marriage, in which Charlotte chooses not to know any of his "defects". Due to these differences from the other marriages in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Darcy's attitudes towards marriage are the most modern, although many aspects are still closely linked with Regency England. For example Elizabeth did not consider replying to Darcy's letter, an epistolatory device used by Austen, to explain Darcy and Wickham's relationship, as there was an inflexible law, which did not permit correspondence between not engaged marriageable people; hence Darcy's letter was to be kept a secret. Also, a modern day woman would not normally look forward to being the mistress of her husband's house, as she would already have the ability to buy her own house if she wanted. In conclusion, the attitudes towards marriage represented by marriages in Pride and Prejudice have changed considerably over the past two hundred years. These changes are mostly due to women in modern day England having equal rights to men, something that was not the case the Regency England, and being able to live a fulfilling life without marriage. For example, regardless of that Elizabeth could be as a more independent woman in Regency England, at the end of the novel, her happy ending is still a good marriage. Other legal procedures, such as divorce, are also much more common in today's society and are not frowned upon, as they were two hundred years ago. ...read more.

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