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"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.

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Introduction

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." (Austen, 1813) In her novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen presents the importance of love and marriage through a society in which women scramble to find husbands amid financial snobbery and class prejudice. Austen uses mockery and social attitudes to show that the desire for better social connections in nineteenth-century English society interfered with the workings of love and marriage. While social advancement for young men lay in the military, church or law, the chief method of self-improvement for women was the acquisition of wealth. Women could only accomplish this goal through successful marriage, which explains the value of matrimony as the topic of conversation in Austen's writing. ...read more.

Middle

Austen uses her to continually highlight the necessity of marriage for young women since Mrs.Bennet seems to care about nothing else. Ironically, Mr. Bennet seems almost the opposite of Mrs. Bennet. He is introduced as someone who cares about his image in society and is an "odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humor, reserve, and caprice"(pg. 7), not so much concerned with the marriage of his daughters. He is a man driven to exasperation by his ridiculous wife. Austen depicts Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's matrimony as the ultimate "foolish" marriage. "The experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character." (pg. 7) Mr. Bennet reacts by withdrawing from the family and poking fun at his wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

Charlotte does not view love as the most vital component of a "good" marriage. Instead, she wants the couple to be the least acquainted with each other so they are not able to see each other's defects. As the story progresses, Austen emphasizes the idea that if someone was "rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in habit of spending more then they ought, and of associating with people of rank; then they were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others." (pg. 16) Money, education and high status therefore could excuse conceitedness, haughtiness and pride. So, for women of that time, the qualities of opulence, a good educational background, and high status would prevail pride and prejudice. ...read more.

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