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How does Jane Austen use Elizabeth Bennet in the novel Pride and Prejudice to comment on marriage and the marriage market in the early nineteenth century?

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Introduction

How does Jane Austen use Elizabeth Bennet in the novel Pride and Prejudice to comment on marriage and the marriage market in the early nineteenth century? In the novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen has used Elizabeth Bennet to comment on both marriage and the marriage market at the time. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This is how the novel starts and generally sums up Austen's view on the topic and how the women of the time were treated. But from the start Austen makes fun out of this by saying that it was actually the women and their families who were looking for a rich husband. This makes us feel that quite a lot of the women in the novel would only marry for the money. Elizabeth on the other hand goes against the moral fashion of the time and marries for love, where as most girls were encouraged by their eager parents to marry a man who had a vast fortune. ...read more.

Middle

So once she is living with him it seems that all she does is tend to chores and pleasing Lady Catherine. I don't even think that they even like each other. Lizzie and Charlotte's relationship type contrast a lot and also their reactions to proposal. Charlotte is very pragmatic, meaning she will always do the most practical and useful thing. Like in the book when she is proposed to by Mr Collins, she says yes because she knows that one day he will come into a lot of money. 'I'm not romantic you know' this tells us that she is too old to marry for love and so she knows that she has to really marry anyone who offers her their hand . 'I only ask for a comfortable home.......I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is fair.......' Also she doesn't want very much so is probably happier with more men than Lizzie. Where as Lizzie is a romantic and follows her feelings more than charlotte would, being pragmatic. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again this makes us think about her attitude towards marriage and the marriage market. Normally someone would accept his offer the first time, as he has a lot of money and is handsome, but once again Lizzie contradicts this idea and says no. Through the character of Lizzie, Austen has said that the man in the relationship has a lot of the power. For example in Mr and Mrs Bennets, Mr Bennet knows he has an easy power over Mrs Bennet and can easily wind her up. Also she puts across the point that most women at the time would marry for money not love like Charlotte Lucas. Over all at the end pf the novel we feel that the relationship between Darcy and Lizzie is slightly out of place in the 19th century as the quote at the start of the play says that "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." But Mr Darcy was not in want of a wife even though he had a large fortune. ...read more.

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