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How are love and romance portrayed differently in the 18th and 20th centuries?

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Introduction

Discuss the similarities and differences in attitudes to love and romance prevailing in the 18th Century society depicted in "Pride and Prejudice" with that portrayed in the 20th Century by "Of Mice and Men" The books of "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen and "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, set in the 18th and 20th Century respectively, seem to portray highly different cultural attitudes to love and romance. This essay tries to discuss their similarities and differences in such attitudes as portrayed in the two books, especially their attitudes to sex and their purpose of marriage, and thereby to find out why some marriages being portrayed are considered to be a failed marriage and some considered to be a successful marriage, how a marriage can work and how far apart these two cultures are. The attitude to sex in "Pride and Prejudice" is considered to be rather conservative. The book shows a disinclination to acknowledge the subject. When it speaks about sex, it speaks euphemistically. This is obvious when it says that Lydia is not involved in any other sexual misadventures after her original elopement with Wickham, but remains faithful to him. It says "in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her". In the book, Austen shows us a 'genteel' class view. ...read more.

Middle

Mr. Bennet reckons that true love, which is lack in his own marriage, is more important than wealth for a good marriage. He finds difficult to share his point of view with his wife. As I have mentioned in the beginning that Lady Catherine has tried to force a 'sensible' marriage of Darcy to her daughter. We understand that she can't succeed. Even if she has succeeded, there is evidence that the marriage will not be a successful one because it ignores individual feelings and there is no true love between them. The marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas is also considered to be a 'sensible' match. The marriage satisfies both sides because what Mr. Collins needs is someone to marry him so that he can have a wife to present to Lady Catherine while Charlotte is in danger of becoming an old maid. She needs someone to marry her so that she can have a home and a secure social standing. In fact, Charlotte's pragmatic views on marriage are voiced out several times in the novel --" Without thinking highly either of Man or matrimony, marriage had always been her subject; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want." ...read more.

Conclusion

It is found that different social background with different moral standard, in the two different societies as portrayed affects the attitude to sex of the people in that age. We also see these differences in the attitude to sex, whether conservative or open, do not affect the purpose of their marriage in both societies. Both are after money. It seems that in both societies, marriage is the only allowed route to financial security. Elizabeth is the only exception who is seeking only true love in a marriage. Jane Austen writes in her novel, " Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance," which means to have a successful marriage is very difficult. She points out in "Pride and Prejudice" that it is the combination of true love, wealth and social status makes a successful marriage, lack of one thing will make it unsuccessful, especially without true love. While Steinbeck uses Curley's marriage as a negative example bringing out the same message -- he tries to tell us what is lack in Curley's unsuccessful marriage and that is to love each other truly. Therefore, I can conclude that both books have successfully presented an ideal of the basis for a successful marriage and they are remarkably similar, suggesting that the two cultural attitudes to love and romance are not really so very far apart. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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