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Discuss the way Jane Austen treats the theme of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice.

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Introduction

Q. Discuss the way Jane Austen treats the theme of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice. The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous sentences in English literature. It sums up the main theme of the book - love and marriage: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' It is an ironic opening, because it implies that if a man is rich, then he will want to marry. But in fact it is quite the contrary, which is made clear later in the book. We can understand what Austen thought about marriage through Pride and Prejudice. There are four weddings in the novel, but nearly all of them show different reasons for marriage. Firstly, there is marriage for money. Austen portrays this as being unhappy for the woman. This is demonstrated through Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas. They very rarely speak to each other, and Charlotte ends up sitting alone in the house everyday. Another type of marriage in this novel is one based purely on youth and beauty. This is shown through Mr Wickham and Lydia Bennet, and also though Mr and Mrs Bennet. ...read more.

Middle

After being forced by her mother to stay in the room alone with insensitive fool, Elizabeth listens to Mr Collins' reasons for wanting to marry her. His first reason is that he thinks 'it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like himself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish'. As you can see, this reason has nothing to do with his feelings for Elizabeth. His second reason is that he is 'convinced it will add very greatly to (his) happiness'. The idiotic clergyman clearly hadn't considered whether Elizabeth could benefit from the marriage, which shows his egotism and insensitivity for other people's views and feelings. Mr Collins' final reason was that it was 'the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom (he) has the honour of calling patroness.' In saying this he is referring to his idol, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He is basically telling Elizabeth that it wasn't his idea to propose to her! This clearly shows that he isn't seriously attracted to her. Mr Collins then goes on to subtly insult Elizabeth by quoting Lady Catherine de Bourgh ' "not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way" '. ...read more.

Conclusion

As soon as she sees Mr Darcy's wealth, she has confirmed it in her mind that she likes him. Eventually, after seeing each other unexpectedly, saying goodbye to each other and thinking that they would never be together, Darcy comes to Netherfield with Bingley. It is not until now that Darcy expresses his true feelings for Elizabeth, and finally proposes to her. Austen subtly tells the reader that the couple were mutually suited to each other, as opposed to having physical passion, by describing how Elizabeth and Darcy never actually made eye contact during their conversation: 'Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eyes, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight diffused over his face became him; but, though she could not look, she could listen'. Also during this time, they talk about what had happened in their past together, and both took the blame for their pride and prejudice. Jane Austen clearly thought that Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet's marriage was the most moral out of all four weddings in the book. She wrote this wedding for the heroine of the story, because she must have felt that a non-physical, non-financial marriage is most important in life. Emma Donatantonio English Coursework - Pride and Prejudice 11/12/07 1 ...read more.

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