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Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

Consider the various attitudes towards marriage in "Pride and Prejudice". What do you thinkJane Austen believed were the ingredients of a happy marriage? The novel "Pride and Prejudice" written by Jane Austen and set in 1812, deals primarily with the theme of marriage. There are six main relationships in the novel, which all demonstrate different reasons for matrimony whether it be for wealth, social issues or pure affection we can see clearly what Jane Austen considered to be the weakest and least successful marriage and what she thought to be the most fulfilling, successful relationship. Through these marriages, we can see what elements make up a happy and long-lasting marriage; love, respect and understanding each other. The problem, however, of making a good marriage can be as weighty as those of money and social issues which is why at the time there were many marriages of "convenience". Marriage provided financial security and there were not many alternatives in providing a stable future without marriage unless you inherited a large amount of money or became a governess. The Bennets' marriage is a clear example of one of the weaker marriages of the novel. It supports Jane Austen's view that passion of the moment, which although is a key part in marriage and should be celebrated, is a poor foundation for a strong and fulfilling marriage. The Bennets' lack love and respect which are a crucial element in a successful marriage. We are introduced to the Bennets' in the very first chapter where we see Mr Bennet mocking his wife's character. This demonstrates to us how their marriage may not necessarily be a happy one; the reader gets a strong feeling that love was not one of the foundations of their marriage. Jane Austen even tells us that "the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character", this shows us how they have two completely different personalities and how even after being married for a long period of time, they still have not fully understood each other. ...read more.

Middle

Wickham's interest in Lydia is purely sexual and Lydia is infatuated by his good looks. The only reason Wickham stays with Lydia and marries her is because Mr Darcy offers him money to do so. Jane Austen uses this marriage to show a model of a bad marriage. It is based on physical attraction and money and it disgraces the Bennets. In her letter she writes to tell Harriett that she has ran away and how what a surprise it will be to her family, "what a good joke it will be!" also she says she didn't think she would be married while away with Wickham and saw it as "very good fun" if she did. If Wickham had not married her it would have had disastrous consequences for the Bennets. Their marriage will be unhappy for Lydia, as there is no love or respect from Wickham in the relationship at all. In Jane Austen's view, they almost deserve each other; they balance each other out ironically. Their marriage will be a bad one just like Lydia's parents. Near the end of the novel you can see that Lydia is already annoying him like Mrs Bennet annoys Mr Bennet. "His affection for her soon sunk into indifference; hers lasted a little longer". This just proves how a relationship based purely on physical attraction is a disastrous one and therefore will not be a happy one. They did not know each other properly and because of their elopement in Brighton, they had to get married. Wickham had no intention of marrying Lydia and saw her just as some harmless fun. If Mr Darcy had not paid Mr Wickham to marry Lydia then the Bennets would have been 'cast out' of their social circle. Also, Lydia's sisters would not have had any chance to marry a man of higher class. Jane Austen certainly believed that a relationship should not start the way Lydia and Wickham's did, she strongly implies that their marriage will turn into the Bennets' as, like her mother, Lydia married for attraction. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth is quite mindful of her father's mistake of marrying her mother which I believe is why Elizabeth's only incentive in marriage is for love. We can also tell that Mr Darcy too, wanted to marry Elizabeth solely for affectionate reasons as it was expected from him to marry a woman of wealth and high class. However, Mr Darcy surprises us by overcoming his pride and shows that he truly loves Elizabeth. Lady Catherine de Bourgh completely opposed their relationship as she wanted Mr Darcy to marry her daughter, Ann de Bourgh. Their parents had arranged for them to marry when they were born as their marriage would keep the estate together and increase their wealth. Also, Elizabeth did not have many connections and she believed that Elizabeth was of not the correct "breed". Jane Austen proves from this marriage that in order to achieve the most successful and fulfilling relationship, there has to be difficulties to overcome together. In addition, she shows us that to develop a relationship of understanding and respect; you must not rush knowing the person and take a long time to fully comprehend each other. In conclusion, Jane Austen illustrates her views on marriage through the varied marriages. It is clear that at the bottom of the scale, the marriage of passion only is Lydia and Wickham's and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. A little above that is the marriage of no passion and little affection: the Collins'. Next is the marriage of genuine affection and respect: Jane and Mr Bingley and the Gardiners'. Lastly, the marriage which has love, respect, affection, esteem, and passion - all the key ingredients for a successful marriage, is Elizabeth and Mr Darcy's. She shows us how the relationships where the foundations are based purely on money, passion or society's acceptance were weak and had little fulfilment. Whereas, relationships that were lasting and successful had to be based on love, respect and affection for each other. She also shows us how relationship's which had been tested proved to be lasting. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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