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Discuss Jane Austen's presentation of the theme of love and marriage in "Pride and Prejudice"

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Introduction

Discuss Jane Austen's presentation of the theme of love and marriage in "Pride and Prejudice": One of the central themes of "Pride and Prejudice" is love and marriage. Jane Austen portrays the different incentives of marriage using various characters as literary devices to explore relationships between characters who have married for love opposed to couples who marry for superficial reasons. She satirises the custom of marrying for practical reasons, or reasons other than love. Her views are seen through Elizabeth, the main character whose viewpoint we are most inclined to sympathise with as she herself firmly believes that one should only marry for love. This view was seen as quite radical for her time. Pride and Prejudice was set in the regency era, in a patriarchal society, where women's values were regarded as inferior to that of men's. Women had no access to property or voting rights and had limited access to money. They were left very vulnerable and at the mercy of fathers, husbands or patrons. This is seen through the practice of entailment, as only a male relative was eligible to inherit the estate. This rule of society appears even harsher when put in context of women in situations similar to that of the Bennet sisters, whom having no brothers, relied on the pompous Mr Collins for financial security, as he being their closest male relative was entitled to inherit the estate, and could leave them destitute if he willed it. The entailment of the estate was a great hardship for the Bennet sisters as without the independent income which could be derived from an estate, they will need to marry well in order to secure their livelihood. ...read more.

Middle

Her parents' dramatically contrasting personalities, leads the audience to suspect that their marriage is an arranged one. Mr Bennet is an "odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice" while Mrs Bennet is a "a woman of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper" This shows that Mr Bennet married a women he found physically attractive before realising that they were intellectually incompatible. The outcome of this relationship is that Mr Bennet would isolate himself from his family and found refuge in his library and belittling his oblivious wife. This is how Austen has made obvious that they neither love nor like each other, creating a fragmented household where neither parent seems happy. In this relationship Austen shows that it is better to marry for love and get to know your spouse who you are going to spend the rest of your life with, or realise too late that you and your partner are unable to coexist happily together, and lose love and respect for each other. However Elizabeth's views and therefore Austen's views would be seen as idealistic by 19th century readers, as Elizabeth would have a severely limited income after her father's demise and as Mr Collins pointedly suggests, she may not get any more offers again because of this. Consequently, most young women in 19th century society may dream of marrying for love but would understand the necessity of marrying for practicality as charlotte has. In Jane Austen's society, it was very difficult to get to know one's partner before marriage as men and women had no real chance to get to know one another in a socially acceptable manner. ...read more.

Conclusion

any partiality or affection toward him at all, he is so conceited that he believes that Elizabeth cannot possibly refuse him this shows his pride as he doesn't think that a middle class person could not possibly refuse, him a rich aristocrat, "he spoke of apprehension and anxiety but his countenance expressed real security. This just Insults Elizabeth more and makes her want to reject him. Elizabeth's comment to him--"had you acted in a more gentlemanlike manner" makes him start, and as will be seen later in the novel, has such an impact on him that his character changes completely. Darcy is honest but hurtful in his first proposal when he was rejected by Elizabeth, accuses her of pride "these offences may have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honest scruples" he is trying to be realistic and trying to face the practical problems of the relationship. In his own way, Darcy thinks he is being romantic as he falls in love with her and is even prepared to propose to Elizabeth in spite of all the "scruples" and "inferiority of her connections" When Elizabeth gives him her reasons for rejecting him, (which include wickham) Darcy then accuses her of prejudice because she had believed Wickham account of Darcy, this was only one point of view and Darcy is hurt that Wickham's lies are given preference over himself. He is disappointed that Elizabeth who he held in such high regard has fell victim to Wickham's surface charms and become like any other girl. "You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns" Hareem Bhatti ...read more.

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