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Consider the variety of attitudes to marriage as expressed by the different characters in Pride and Prejudice. What do you think Austen believed were the ingredients of a successful marriage?

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Introduction

Consider the variety of attitudes to marriage as expressed by the different characters in Pride and Prejudice. What do you think Austen believed were the ingredients of a successful marriage? By Lauren Hewett Miss. Lloyd 10 V "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The maxim that starts Austen's Pride and Prejudice elucidates the parallel themes which traverse the novel: money and marriage. The main subject of the novel is stated in the first sentence. In this statement Austen has skilfully done three things: she has declared that the main theme of the novel will be courtship and marriage, and by taking a simple subject to elaborate and to speak intelligently of she has established the humorous and satiric tone of the novel, and Austen has also prepared the reader for the chase of either a woman in pursuit of a husband, or a husband in search of a wife. Love was not generally the main motive for marrying in the 19th century as society's ideas of a successful marriage were very different to ours of today. Pride and Prejudice contains an array of marriages which are successful and others which are not. It is through these marriages that Austen's own opinions on what were the ingredients of a successful marriage, are revealed. Being directly introduced to the marriage of Mr and Mrs. Bennet is structurally significant as the reader is prepared for the carelessness of it and is lead to disregard it and marriages if this kind, which were typical of the society, early on. The poor relationship that the couple have with each other is a result of their reasons for marrying one another. Mr. Bennet found a mother for his children and was "captivated by youth and beauty." Alternatively, Mrs. Bennet was presented with a life with status and security. ...read more.

Middle

While the novel ultimately delivers Jane and Lizzy to happiness, at this point in the novel, it seems as though the Bennet girls are losing out in their respectable pursuit of husbands. When Charlotte says, "I am not a romantic you know...I ask only a comfortable home," it seems as though romanticism has compelled Elizabeth to ask for too much, to seek more than her society is willing to offer her. Charlotte Lucas, described by Austen as "a sensible, intelligent young woman', Charlotte does not have the advantage of being rich, beautiful, or the heroine of a novel, and at twenty seven she knows what she must do. If the appalling Mr. Collins is the only suitable male on offer, she will take him and be grateful: "Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. - Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained." The arrival of Mr. Collins immediately precedes the first appearance of Wickham, and the clergyman's foolishness contrasts with Wickham's ability to charm. The irony between the marriages of Lydia and Wickham and The Collins' is that the men are both lacking in moral scruples, both wholly mercenary and both prepared to exploit women. I, personally, do not believe that Charlotte and Mr. Collins were in love at all and they did not really appear too happy in each other's company. I think their marriage was an illustration of why you should not marry just for financial reasons. On the other hand, her pragmatic approach to marriage may be restricted, but within the wider context of society at large, it probably represents a more realistic goal than that of Elizabeth and Jane. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, Jane's excessive carefulness and caution would have ruined her lasting happiness had not Elizabeth revealed her affection. Bingley, on the other hand, is not hampered by excessive prudent judgement in his following his inclinations and courting Jane, and it is his active approach in wooing Jane which eventually precipitates a joyous marriage. In her portrayal of Jane and Bingley's relationship, Austen provides a counterpoint to Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship by showing that an excessive amount of prudent judgement and caution can so much temper inclinations, such that with so little encouragement offered, prospects of lasting happiness can be endangered and lost. Jane Austen has cleverly used Elizabeth Bennet in the novel, so that we are influenced to agree with her attitudes on the importance of marrying for love. Austen has used her characters to express the different opinions towards marriage. Such characters as Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas and Wickham and Lydia represent marriage for superficial purposes, which can never result in happiness. The juxtaposition between the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth show the audience that happiness in marriage can only be achieved if the couple both throw away immediate physical attractions and financial desires and marry for nothing else but true love. Through her contentious book, Austen brings to surfaces aspects of the 1800s marriages and declares that most people did marry for the wrong reasons: she isolated herself from these common attitudes and reveals that in her opinion, it takes a very good, brave person to see past faults of society and that only in accepting someone who you understand and love, that marriage can be expected to last: Austen was obviously a romantic. Only now, when women have gained satisfactory financial security to enable them to make marriage choices dictated solely by romantic considerations, have Austen's views become conventional; however, we still place a lot of faith in wealth and social status. 1 Lauren Hewett ...read more.

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