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Examine the different marriage relationships and attitudes towards marriage presented in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Is it possible to draw any conclusions about Jane Austen's own views on the subject?

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Introduction

Examine the different marriage relationships and attitudes towards marriage presented in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Is it possible to draw any conclusions about Jane Austen's own views on the subject? "Pride and Prejudice" was called "First Impressions" before it was finally published in 1813 under the title "Pride and Prejudice". The novel was written in the early 19th century at a time when social class and status determined a person's lifestyle and marriage partner. Marriage played the most important part in the life of women and men alike and a mother's main aim was to marry off her daughters to rich, eligible men and a man's was to marry a suitable wife. This was important because if the father died, the married daughters would have to be able to support the mother and family financially. Women could achieve a higher social status through marriage. The family's social status would rise if the daughter married into a higher status. If a man married a lower status woman, he would probably become outcast from his family, or if he married into a higher status he would become richer. Men would normally marry in the social class they were born into unless they made more money or got a promotion in their job. The social ranks that could be found in the gentry class are baronets, ladies, knights and dames, squires, gentlemen and ladies. Lady Catherine De Bourgh was a lady and Mr Darcy was a very rich gentleman. The gentry class were normally land owners, who did not depend on manual labour for their income. A baronet was a title that could only be inherited and was created in 1611 supposedly to, fill the gap between peers and knights. To receive the title of a knight or a dame it must be awarded by the Queen and was not hereditary. In the 1800's the term lady or gentleman had a determined class meaning and they were thought to be at the lower end of the status ladder. ...read more.

Middle

engagement", and her attitude towards marriage, which is that she will be so proud when she signs her name and that she will make all of her sisters jealous "you need not send word to Longbourn of my going....for it shall make the surprise greater when I sign my name Lydia Wickham." Also she thinks she's gone to Gretna Green which is in Scotland and was one of the only places that couple such as Lydia and Wickham could go to get married without parental consent. She has found herself in her first real relationship with someone and thinks it is true love "for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel" this shows that she is overwhelmed by him and she feels this is the one she loves and Mr Wickham has obviously done well to persuade her that he returns such feelings. Lydia marries for a notion of love. In Elizabeth eyes this showed that Darcy's account of the elopement with Miss Darcy and Wickham was true and now Elizabeth finds it very hard to accept the news. You do end up feeling sorry for Lydia's superficiality and that she thinks that her running away was all a joke. She is now shown as self indulged as she only thinks of her happiness when she will be married to Mr Wickham and not of the consequences her actions will have on her sisters. In the end the family feel that the best way to disguise the elopement is to force an agreement with money to ensure that Wickham marries Lydia. Elizabeth feels that this is a terrible compromise as she dislikes Wickham so much that she feels he is a very unsuitable brother-in-law and that his character would taint the family's already ruined reputation. She also feels for her younger sister as she believes that she would not like to be held into such a situation and she wishes that it would not happen to her and so from now on is a little more guarded in her feelings and more observant. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mr Darcy and Elizabeth do suit each other as their characters complement each other. He is quieter but is clever, Elizabeth is bright and feisty. "Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again" They have a good foundation for marriage as they have the same moral values as they both married for love and their expectation of marriage was the same, except Elizabeth shows hers more openly than Mr Darcy. They are not matched in social status or financial situation although Elizabeth believes that they are of the same social class within reason "He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman' daughter; so far we are equal" I believe that they will have a good marriage consisting of mutual happiness and equality and respect for each other. I think that Jane Austen approves highly of this match as they have been through some hard times, such as when Mr Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth, however, they recover and I personally think that Jane Austen is writing as if she would like to be Elizabeth. It is the match made in heaven with a perfect marriage. Jane Austen marries Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy as she feels they are in love. Elizabeth and Mr Darcy also have a similar character and complement each other in their wit and nerve in talking to each other about their faults. Also, this particular marriage shows that Austen does not believe that status should affect a relationship in any way as the pair get married; however, she does show that the social status did matter at first to Darcy "Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would be a punishment to stand up with" Jane Bennet and Mr Bingleys' relationship is also seen as a good match, as, at the end of the novel, they are happy and contented. Once again, they complement each other in their temperament and moral values. 1 Kate Hall LVC ...read more.

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