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Jane Austins opinion of a good marriage.

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Introduction

The novel 'Pride and Prejudice', written by Jane Austin, tells the story of a man, his five daughters, and his wife whose sole purpose in life is to marry off her daughters to 'suitable' men. Her eldest daughter, Jane is her most prized daughter. Mrs. Bennet is assured that Jane's beauty and meticulous manners will win her a high-quality husband who may be able to support not just Jane, but her other sisters as well. The story is told by the second daughter, Elizabeth. She does not necessarily want to be confined to a marriage of convenience and social status. Elizabeth is the only character who demands to marry not only a suitable man, but also one she loves. Her younger sisters however, Lydia and Catherine are immature and simply obsessed with flirting with officers. Jane Austin clearly conveys her judgment of the characters through their actions and through their marriages. Once Mrs. Bennet begins to accomplish her goal of marrying her daughters, the reader is able to evaluate each of the marriages and their circumstances. There are four main marriages in the novel: Charlotte's marriage to Mr.Collins, Lydia's marriage to Wickham, Jane's marriage to Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth's marriage to Mr.Darcy. Jane Austen uses the character of Elizabeth to voice her opinions on the makings of a good marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Running off with a man you are not married to was not tolerated during the time in which the story is based. Elizabeth thinks her sister lacks both decency and virtue (230). She is irrational and unpredictable. Her moods and behaviour are ever changing and she accepts no responsibility for her actions. Her reckless behaviour will cause both her family and society to shun her. The worst aspect of this whole affair is that Lydia is not aware she has done anything wrong. Her relatives know that Wickham does not genuinely love her. Mr. Wickham himself "has neither integrity or honor"(230). He will not marry a woman without money (229). Lydia does not have much to offer anyone but health and youth (230). The couple have no real love for each other and neither has any money. In the case of Charlotte and Mr. Collins, they will fulfil each other's needs for security. Lydia and Wickham have nothing in common, and neither can provide anything the other needs. However, no matter how little sense their marriage makes, it must take place in order to save the reputation of the family. Elizabeth does not realize that Mr. Darcy is the one who helped to locate Wickham and Lydia in London and bring them back to Netherfield. She believes that was her uncle, Mr. Gardiner, who solved her family's problems. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth now has nothing standing in her way to prevent her from accepting an offer of marriage from Darcy. She tells Lady Catherine De Bourgh that she will not decline an offer of engagement from her nephew. Lydia's mess is now all cleared up and smoothed over. Jane was now finally happily engaged to Bingley. Elizabeth, now respecting Mr. Darcy after finding out the truth about him from his letter. She admires him for being who he is, a man of manners, and integrity. Lastly, she expresses extreme gratitude for all that he has done for both of her other sisters, especially Lydia. Mr. Darcy did not have to overcome so many barriers. The only barrier that exists for him is the vast difference in family class between the two. However, this seems to bother others much more than it bothers him. The marriage between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth shows the most promise. They genuinely love each other. The most unlikely marriage to occur of the three previously mentioned marriages turns out to be the strongest! Darcy is a man of reason, stability, and intellect. Elisabeth is an intellectual equal to Mr. Darcy, and through her marriage to Mr. Darcy is now more socially stable. Jane Austen clearly conveys her judgment of the characters through their actions and through their marriages. Lydia and Wickham's marriage is the only marriage that is portrayed as being irrational and altogether irresponsible. ...read more.

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