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Consider the marriages that take place during Pride and Prejudice - Which is the most successful?

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Introduction

Consider the marriages that take place during Pride and Prejudice. Which is the most successful? Pride and Prejudice is a novel that deals primarily with the theme of marriage. Through the course of the plot, four weddings take place; between Lydia and Mr Wickam; Charlotte and Mr Collins; Jane and Mr Bingley; and Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Some of these marriages are seen as more ultimately positive than others. Jane Austen's society was one that declared marriage as the status all women should strive to achieve and the opening statement, 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' is therefore fitting (even if quite ironic). It also introduces the idea that aspects such as social class, property and money were extremely important in marriage, generally more so than love. During the 18th Century, connections needed to be respectable for one to have a chance of marrying well. This causes quite a predicament for the five Bennet girls who have an extremely vulgar, embarrassing mother and uncles residing in Cheapside, as well as no money to attract suitors. Because of this, they all have to rely solely on their charms and beauty for a decent marriage. The first marriage seen in the novel is that between Mr Collins and Miss Charlotte Lucas and is probably the most typical marriage of the time. ...read more.

Middle

as he bribes Wickam into it with a large sum. The way the Wickams deal with their financial situation can also be compared to the Bennets - both couples were 'heedless of the future'. We learn Lydia and Wickam were incessantly in debt and often moved from place to place, constantly squandering their money and primarily being sustained by the help of others. 'Whenever they [the Wickams] changed their quarters, either Jane on herself [Elizabeth] was sure of being applied to, for some little assistance towards discharging their bills.' This marriage is in no doubt the least successful because as well as owning a bad reputation, the couple have neither love nor money; at least with Mr and Mrs Collins each fulfil the other's need for security and their financial situation is under control. The third marriage is probably the first genuinely positive one, giving a sense of happiness to the reader. After meeting both Miss Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley, it is instantly obvious that they are well suited to each other because they are both good, kind, optimistic people and as soon as they meet at the Meryton Assembly, he shows a lively interest in Jane, dancing with her twice. Throughout the novel it becomes apparent there is a base of true love (not lust) and affection between them. Jane is the perfect example of what a young woman was expected to be during the 18th Century; polite, rational, conservative, social and beautiful (in fact the most beautiful of the five Bennet sisters) ...read more.

Conclusion

Society's rules cause many barriers for Elizabeth and Mr Darcy and Lady Catherine De Bourgh specifically reproves of the marriage. She has difficulty accepting it, visiting Elizabeth in person and questioning, 'Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?' (page 288), thus implying Elizabeth and her connections are so low they will contaminate the wonderful building only fit for those of a much higher class. I believe that overall the marriage between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is the most successful. When at last they are together they are financially secure and are accepted by most of society - eventually by Lady Catherine as well. The couple triumph over many original misunderstandings and conquer all their pride and prejudices against each other - in Mr Darcy's case also against her social class. The victory over numerous obstacles seem to have brought them closer together and genuinely in love, 'They were able to love each other, even as well as they intended.' Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are both straightforward characters that are intelligent and honest as well as caring and loving and they make an extremely compatible couple. Additionally, they continue to have equality within the relationship (it was often common at the time for the male to have a more dominant role) and as Georgiana is astonished to find, the couple constantly get along, always having something to discuss, 'she [Georgiana' often listened with astonishment . . . at her [Elizabeth's] lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother.' This marriage turns out to be the strongest and Jane Austen leaves nothing that could be criticised about the union. ...read more.

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