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Explore how Jane Austen presents the themes of love and marriage in volume 1 of Pride and Prejudice.

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Introduction

Explore how Jane Austen presents the themes of love and marriage in volume 1 of Pride and Prejudice "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." The novel begins with a satirical quote, representing many people's opinions on love and marriage at the time of writing. To many, marriage was a way of bettering themselves socially and economically, but seldom for happiness and love. Throughout the novel there are numerous and frequent references to this way of thinking, and Austen makes characters who think of love and marriage in this way appear ridiculous. One character made to look absurd is Mrs. Bennet. Most find her intolerable, and even her own daughters and husband are embarrassed by her regularly. In chapter one she says, "A single man of large fortune... What a fine thing for our girls!" Nothing of Mr. Bingley's character is mentioned, but the fact that he is wealthy seems reason enough for Mrs. Bennet to approve of him. As will be future explored, Mrs. Bennet is derided throughout the novel, clearly showing that Austen herself does not approve of her way of thinking, as it is centred around the material rather than being centred around love or moral reasons. ...read more.

Middle

Much of the proposal is an insult to Miss Bennet as he retells Lady Catherine's exact words ("let her be an active, useful person, not brought up too high"). Mr. Collins obviously does not love Elizabeth, nor is he pretending so. He seems to think that, due to the fact that he has good connections, Elizabeth would jump at the chance of marrying him. She refuses politely, yet Mr. Collins cannot see why she would refuse his offer. He is a prime example of someone who doesn't think love is a necessity for a successful marriage. He sees his proposal as an honourable gesture; as a way to compensate the Bennet family for the fact that he shall inherit the house upon Mr. Bennet's death, but somewhat selfishly to better his own status and comfort. Soon after this, as Mr. Collins retreats with a slightly bruised ego, we learn that Miss Charlotte Lucas, a close friend of the Bennets, has accepted another proposal from Collins, presumably one of the same type. After Elizabeth confronts her on the news of their engagement Charlotte justifies her thoughts with the following: "I am not romantic... I ask only a comfortable home... ...read more.

Conclusion

This seems evermore the case when listening to the piano at Netherfield; he thinks to himself that it may become dangerous to pay too much attention to Lizzy. He makes it clear that he regards her of a lower class in his refused proposal ("He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed... His sense of her inferiority - of its being a degradation - of the family obstacles.") and is obviously concerned about other people's opinions. Despite the fact that the story ends happily and both Elizabeth and Jane marry for love, the underlying theme of the novel is, predictably, pride and prejudice. Lydia, though eager to marry Wickham for love, runs the risk of being ostracised due to her living with him outside of wedlock. This, in turn, would ruin the reputation of her sisters. Despite being in love, would Darcy and Bingley want to get married to the siblings of a disgraced woman? If Darcy had not have been able to persuade Wickham to marry Lydia, would he in turn have abandoned Elizabeth? Though Austen strongly hints that she approves of marrying for love rather than money (through satirising some characters and not others), it is clear that reputation and etiquette were still as important, if not more important than love in one's marriage. ...read more.

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