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Explore The Social Institution Of Marriage In Jane Austen's Society In A Comparison Of The Proposals Of Mr Collins And Mr Darc

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Introduction

Explore The Social Institution Of Marriage In Jane Austen's Society In A Comparison Of The Proposals Of Mr Collins And Mr Darcy To Elizabeth Bennett In the following essay I am going to closely examine the proposals of marriage Elizabeth by her cousin Mr Collins, and aristocrat Mr Darcy. I am also going to compare and contrast the events of each proposal. In Jane Austen's lifetime a women's status in society came firstly from her parents and secondly when she married. Jane Austen shows the marked differences in class frequently, as this was a major feature of everyday life in the 19th century. Men were seen as being far superior to women as they were able to work and thus earn a small, and in rare cases a large fortune. Pride and Prejudice in some ways mirrors Jane Austen's own life, as her heart was broken at a tender age. Jane Austen gave her undying love to her hero Tom Lefroy, however the match proved incompatible as neither Jane or Tom had a sufficient income to allow them to live as man and wife. At only twenty Jane Austen's real love had come and gone and she never went on to love anyone else. Pride and Prejudice portrays the struggle for women to find compatible men, that not only satisfied their own need for love and adoration, but also suitors that meet their families' best interests. In chapter nineteen it becomes clear to the reader that Mr Collins is interested in Mrs Bennet's daughters. He firstly questions the availability of Jane but is told that she is soon to be engaged to Mr Bingley. After this set back Mr Collins inquires about Elizabeth (the second eldest daughter of Mrs Bennet.) " May I hope madam, for your interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning." ...read more.

Middle

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." Here we see that Mr Bennet has a humorous nature but we also see that he is the dominant figure within the household. Throughout out the remainder of the chapter Mrs Bennet reminds Elizabeth that she may never get another offer of marriage, "But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all -- and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead. -- I shall not be able to keep you -- and so I warn you. -- I have done with you from this very day. -- I told you in the library, you know, that I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my word." We witness the harsh realities that will be caused by Elizabeth refusing Mr Collin's proposal. By looking at Mr Collins's proposal to Miss Bennet the reader gets a clear picture to what he's like as a person. I get the impression that he is well spoken but wordy, pompous and a little arrogant, "When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on this subject I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me." Mr Collins thinks because he is of a higher class he should not get refused by anyone of a lower social standing, Elizabeth should be grateful to him. His tone also gives us a vivid image of how Mr Collins's character is portrayed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth finds Mr Collins very predictable, pompous, assuming and a very persistent individual but still respects him enough to be civil towards him. Elizabeth's feelings towards Darcy are in ways similar to Mr Collins but different in the fact that she has little if any respect for him. Elizabeth thinks that Darcy is a proud, presumptuous and selfish person. "You chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility?" This quotation from Elizabeth portrays the lack of respect she feels for Darcy and the contempt she has regarding his treatment of her sister Jane. The institution of marriage was different in Jane Austen's day compared with the act of marriage today. The majority of women were pushed by their families into marriages, which were advantageous for reasons of money, status and respectability. Women of the middle and upper classes did not work, thus, on leaving their family home for married life their standard of living was dictated by their husbands income. It was expected that good matches would be made between people from similar backgrounds and from respectable families. Anything scandalous (divorce, affairs, money problems, improper behaviour etc.) within a family could have serious consequences on daughters and their eligibility for marriage. Many would remain spinsters or they would marry outside their usual social circle. It was not unusual for couples to become engaged in their late teens (with the life expectancy at this time of approximately forty years it is perhaps not surprising that couples married young). Today many couples are marrying in their thirties and marriage is not as fashionable or socially vital. In the Bennets' case as there was no son and heir there was the law of entailment whereby property was left to a male relative. Therefore there was a real pressure for a daughter to marry the inheritor so that property and wealth could remain within the family. Of course laws like this do not generally exist today, and marriages are a union of love rather than a business proposition. ...read more.

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