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Explore Jane Austen's attitude to marriage in Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

Explore Jane Austen's attitude to marriage in Pride and Prejudice Looking at the social, historical and cultural context In the 19th century when Austen wrote 'Pride and Prejudice', the way in which marriage was viewed was very different. It would have been expected of a young woman to find a 'suitable' partner for marriage before they were thirty, as after this they could be seen as an embarrassment to their family. By suitable, it does not mean in the way in which marriage is viewed today. Today marriage is seen as an expression of deep love and respect for another person. In Austen's time, a 'good' marriage was seen to be one where wealth and social status of the man and woman were socially suitable. There was very little, if nothing at all based on a good love match. This can be seen in Austen's opening statement, 'it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' Austen's use of irony immediately indicates that she does not agree with this popular view of her time. Austen's views are depicted throughout the book through the thoughts of characters, especially through the main character, Elizabeth Bennet. ...read more.

Middle

It is not one in which compatibility, let alone love, play a part. It is shown through the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. This marriage seems to summarize some of the main points raised by Austen in this novel, and shows how things worked at the time. Both Charlotte and Mr. Collins were in the marriage for mercenary reasons. Mr. Collins had firstly decided on the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, to be his wife, but after discovering her nearing engagement with Bingley, he then attended to the next daughter, Elizabeth. He was unsuccessful in establishing a relationship, i.e. marriage, as she did not agree in this type of marriage and as most of Austen's views are seen through Elizabeth, the reader is told that she too does not agree in a mercenary marriage. Charlotte was nearing the age where she could be named an 'old maid' and has become desperate in the attempt to find security. She is very cynical about finding happiness in marriage, and she finds herself with an opportunity for security through Mr. Collins. He is marrying for the wrong reasons, one being because his patroness recommended the idea of a wife. Whereas Charlotte's conception on marriage shows the reasons to why someone in that day would marry. ...read more.

Conclusion

As she believes that marriages such as Lydia and Wickham's, should not be embarked upon if entirely based on a fierce physical attraction. In Jane Austen's novel, 'Pride and Prejudice', marriage was not like a 'boy meets girl romance', which is maybe what most would expect from a romance novel. In her time and when the book was set, marriage was an intricate procedure, which was based on: money, family connections, tradition and society. Unfortunately, love and compatibility and the feelings of the two people involved, were not high on the priority list for a good, successful marriage. However Austen thought this should be the other way around, as she believed that love and compatibility are one of the most important aspects of a good marriage and that money and social status should only play a part in marriage, not decide it. This can be seen where she shows her personal feelings towards each different type of marriage shown. In the marriages she sees as being 'good' marriages, we can assume that they will be happy when the marriage has been based on a balance of their personalities and their love. Throughout each she continually stresses the importance of love, equality and compatibility in a marriage. The reader is shown the alternatives to this, in both the positive and negative consequences of marriage. ...read more.

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