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Discuss the different types of marriages presented in Pride and Prejudice and what this tells you about the different attitudes to marriage in the early nineteenth century.

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Introduction

By: Nick Thorogood Discuss the different types of marriages presented in Pride and Prejudice and what this tells you about the different attitudes to marriage in the early nineteenth century. Austen opens this book with a cynical commentary on the Eighteenth Century conception of the value of love - 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gentleman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'! Throughout the book, there are many insights into different beliefs on why to marry. Marrying for money was very popular, followed by lust, calculated marriages and arranged marriages. Something not as often thought about were love marriages. "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance". This was mainly because parents either rushed their children into marriage, or convinced them that love marriages don't always bring money. Also, Fathers such as Mr Bennet who talks of his daughters as being "four of the silliest girls in the country" gives the impression that parents want to give their daughters away to the richest people that come their way. Jobs for young women were scarce in Jane Austen's time because of a lack of education available to them. This was because university places were not open to women, nor were professions or politics. This made a successful career highly unlikely. One way for a young woman to acquire wealth and status was to marry someone rich. ...read more.

Middle

She realises that her first impression of Darcy's "Pride" was, well "Prejudiced" because her judgement was clouded by his superior status. However, when she visited his Pemberley Estate in Derbyshire, she fell in love with it and began to find even more that Darcy was a good man. Her opinion of him changes from "...I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine" to a similar opinion of his maid - "The best man I have ever known." Mr and Mrs Gardener regard him highly after meeting him a few times describing him "all ease and Friendliness" with "no false dignity". Jane and Bingley have a love relationship based on a genuine, true affection. They are very stable, although Bingley has some problems with Jane's low connections. They are similar in character and mannerisms. The indifference they display is mutual and neither of them want to rush into marriage. Throughout the novel Lizzie urges Jane to stay with Bingley but not be too forward. After all they had only met a few times. This contradicts Charlotte Lucas's who criticises Jane on being "too guarded and self-controlled, and believes she will risk losing Bingley if she doesn't encourage him more." Mr Collins proposal to Lizzie tells a factual point about how hard it was for women of the Bennet sisters' class, with low connections to find a good husband. ...read more.

Conclusion

Austen flags this fact out quite obviously that she does not believe in these types of marriages and would prefer a marriage built on strong foundations herself. Lydia and Wickham's marriage is another lustful, passion of the moment marriage. They're elopement brought shame to the Bennet family. Running away with a man was considered one of the worst things you could do. Wickham had no intention of marrying Lydia as she was not very attractive, not very rich and had low connections. This is the weakest relationship as Wickham is untrustworthy and a described by Darcy as a "scoundrel". The marriage would not last, as Wickham had to be paid off to marry Lydia. Mr Gardener and Darcy paid off Wickham, a considerable amount, to bring Lydia some happiness but also to lift the shame of Lydia's elopement. By: Nick Thorogood This book is a parody of the battle between the lower gentry of merry England and the slightly higher class as they each search for love, but each is hindered by pre-conceived Prides' and 'prejudices' of other social classes. The main protagonist, Lizzie Bennett, manages to overcome her mother's objections to the pomposity and design of her long-time adversary, Mr Darcy, and find true love. The book is full of minor characters that all marry for the wrong reasons. Charlotte for status; Lydia for sex and Mrs Hirst for money. But the Bennett sisters are manipulated by Austen to marry for the only thing worth marrying for ... love. ...read more.

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