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"How does Jane Austen portray marriage in her novel Pride and Prejudice?"

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Introduction

"How does Jane Austen portray marriage in her novel Pride and Prejudice?" Marriage plays an extremely important role in Jane Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice'. The novel begins with the sentence "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This single sentence extremely significant in the fact that it is strongly connected with one of the main themes of the novel, and introduces a powerful irony that clashes with the events that unfold during the progress of the novel. In Jane Austen's day, women of high status were almost entirely dependent on men. With the only means of employment available to them being a governess, most unmarried women remained financially dependent on their male relatives. Also, the fact that most estates and fortunes such as the Longbourn estate owned by the Bennets were entailed, meaning that only male relatives could inherit it drove women to stereotype marriage as a means of financial survival, with the gentleman with the highest earnings being the most favoured for a "comfortable home...connections and a situation in life" (i.e. social status). This can first be perceived as soon as Mr Darcy is introduced into the novel; where the attention of the room during the dinner party is drawn by not only his physical features, but also by "the report which was in general circulation...of his having ten thousand a year." ...read more.

Middle

Instead, he marries Charlotte and neither gives nor receives love in their marriage. A final example that is quite significant in the novel is between Lydia and Mr Wickham. Their marriage is seen to be based on mere attraction and lust. Mr Wickham is seen as a handsome, charming polite young man, however we soon find out through how devious and hypocritical he is. Mr Wickham does not truly love Lydia, and she, still fairly young and wild cannot see this, and elopes with him ignoring the inevitable scandal that follows as a result. Jane Austen includes this relationship in the novel to illustrate how marriages based on honesty and real understanding may prove to be the best of all. Along with this, Jane Austen also tries to portray how significant family status was in her time, and how scandals can severely blight a woman's prospects in marriage, whether or not she is directly responsible. Two fine examples of this are given in the novel, and both are connected to the same character; Mr Wickham. The scandal that we first learn about is related to Elizabeth by Mr Darcy. He explains how Mr Wickham almost eloped with his sister Georgiana to avenge Mr Darcy, but he prevented them from eloping and saved her from a large scandal that might have enveloped their family. The second scandal is witnessed soon after; Elizabeth receives a letter stating that her youngest sister Lydia had eloped with Mr Wickham. ...read more.

Conclusion

This leads to him proposing to her, to which Elizabeth lashes out her wit with a sharp-tongue promptly rejecting him. However, 'all's well that end's well' as Elizabeth soon learns of the truth about Mr Darcy and the deceit of Mr Wickham and discovers how kind and sincere a man he is, and realising that she is in love with him, accepts his second marriage proposal. Elizabeth and Mr Darcy's relationship can be seen as one that is based on honesty and real love and understanding gained through emotional hardships that they both encountered. This can also be illustrated by the familiar saying: "The course of true love never did run smooth". In the novel 'Pride and Prejudice' Jane Austen comments on many factors such as social class, wealth, and the position of women in her time and links them closely into her main theme of marriage to try to make us aware of the various pressures on both women and men as a result of these factors. She routinely gives us examples of marriages that can be classified as 'bad' and 'good' throughout the novel to exemplify these ideas, and the characters she uses as well as the technique in which she writes in not only brings the story to life with wit and humour, but also makes this novel very worthwhile and enjoyable to read. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ayesha Butt 11G English Assignment- Mr. Hooper 18/10/2004 ...read more.

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