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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' In the early nineteenth century, marriage dominated every woman's purpose in life, and was immensely influenced by her social status and class. The idea was that upper and middle class women were to be dependent on a man throughout their lives, as a daughter and later on as a wife and that a 'good marriage' was always one which enhances status and accumulates wealth. The opening line of 'Pride and Prejudice' states that 'it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' This sentence hints outline of the entire plot to the reader, which concerns itself with the pursuit of "single men in possession of a good fortune" by various female characters. Through this statement, the narrator also discloses that the reverse is also true, that a single woman is in desperate want of a husband. Jane Austen lived in a mercenary world where income and property of the local upper class citizens were openly spoken about and there were no secrets of the need or want to marry for money. A man or woman who had no fortune was expected to look for a spouse who had. ...read more.

Middle

These series of events, which they both experienced, led to both them getting to know each other without intending to. Austen's views on love are shown independently on the social forces between the characters when Darcy and Elizabeth finally agree to get married. She expresses her opinions of a successful marriage through Elizabeth and her relationship with Darcy shows how Austen really feels that marriage is not based on first appearances. Jane Austen's 'ideal state' is also shown through the relationship of Bingley and Jane. This marriage was one for physical attractions as well as love. This is first portrayed to the readers during the early stages of the novel where Bingley states at the ball, 'she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld!' This obviously typifies his attraction to Jane, and his love for her is made stronger by her beauty. The love between them is shared equally as Jane's idea of marriage is to find someone who loves her and respects her as much as she does him so Jane married Bingley for love. Their marriage was a perfect match and their feelings for one another were undeniably from the heart, thus showing that if Jane and Bingley had married only for attraction, their bond would not be as strong. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Wickham's affection of Lydia... not equal to Lydia's for him' shows us that Lydia is a lot more openly attached to Wickham than he is to her. The success of such a union can be judged by looking at the development in the relationship between Mr and Mrs Bennet. Once the excitement of youth and beauty had faded, the two people found that they did not understand or even like each other. Mr Bennet was captivated by Mrs Bennet's youth and beauty and married her without realising that she lacked in intelligence. Affection had worn off between the two early on in their marriage because of this, and we see this where it states, 'he had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem and confidence had vanished forever.' We can see that Austen does not approve of marriage for physical attraction and lust as she depicts these two marriages as unsuccessful and lacking in compatibility. As the story unfolds, the voice of Austen becomes much clearer to the reader. By finishing with the two perfect marriages of Lizzy and Darcy and Jane and Bingley, she suggests a true happy ending will only come to a couple if they share a connection that is beyond physical lust and economic necessity. This belief is contrary to most people of her time who believed that love and understanding was inferior to wealth and social status. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amelia Greco UVY ...read more.

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