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Discuss the relationship between marriage and money in 'Pride and Prejudice'

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Introduction

Discuss the relationship between marriage and money in 'Pride and Prejudice' The theme of money in connection with marriage is highly prevalent in Pride and Prejudice, as it is in a number of Jane Austen's novels. To the modern reader, this could be misleading, as in today's society, love is generally far more important than wealth when choosing a marriage partner. The modern reader could perhaps judge these references to money in relation to marriage as being superficial or materialistic; possibly lessening their opinion of the character. However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, it was extremely sensible and common to take a prospective partner's financial situation and status into consideration, especially for people of a less fortunate background or inheritance. Marriage was considered to be the only way, for women in particular, to live a comfortable life, free of financial worries. If a woman failed to marry, one of their only other options would be to become a governess, completely under the control of their employer for the rest of their lives. This is why marriage was so significant for people of a lower social or economic status, as, despite whether they loved their marriage partner, if they possessed enough fortune to secure their future happiness, then it would be in their best interest to accept the proposal. Jane Austen once stated in a letter of 1816 that, "single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony." ...read more.

Middle

Ironically, a similar marriage to the Bennets is that of Lydia and Wickham, who marry on the basis of passion only, and perhaps a certain feeling of pressure and unfortunate obligation on the Wickham's part. Wickham certainly did not run away with Lydia for love, and in the beginning the primary motivation could not have been money, as it was common knowledge that the Bennet sisters would not inherit a large fortune. Therefore, the main reason for this attempted elopement must have been for passion and lust, and perhaps the relentless flirtation and persuasion of a dominant female. However, this situation differs slightly to that of the Bennets, as eventually, Wickham refused to marry Lydia unless induced with a large sum of money. Therefore, it could be thought that his intention all along was to refuse to a marriage unless given adequate finance. In some respects, one cannot place too much blame on Wickham for acting in the cruel way that he did, as going through with a marriage to a girl with no fortune would have been most imprudent and insensible of him given his own poor financial state. Another marriage portrayed within the novel is that of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins. It is clear to the reader that there is absolutely no passion involved in this relationship and perhaps only a little affection, if indeed any at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is a much celebrated and triumphant marriage in the novel in my opinion, as it is one that defies and overcomes the conventions of the time in order to create a secure and long-lasting partnership. A similar marriage to the previous is that of Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. This is perhaps the "model marriage", in that it incorporates all the important components, such as affection, esteem and passion. The eventual union between these two characters, who have proceeded to be in conflict throughout the novel, possesses an almost fairy-tale quality. Similarly to Bingley and Jane's partnership, Darcy is not gaining any material gains from this marriage, as Elizabeth possesses the same shortcomings as Jane, in that she has little fortune, poor connections and offensive and tactless relations. However, Jane Austen shows that this can be overcome and that, in the end, love will conquer all even when faced with a most inappropriate match like Darcy and Elizabeth. I think that the union between both Bingley and Jane and Darcy and Elizabeth is the author's way of showing that, even in such materialistic times, when so much was based on social status and fortune, true love can still exist and can be properly exposed in the union of marriage. I also think that their union reflects the title of the novel to some extent, as Elizabeth tends to represent prejudice and Darcy represents pride. Sources: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen www.sparknotes.com www.pinkmonkey.com www.pemberley.com TJ Cragg ...read more.

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