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Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

Pride and Prejudice "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Taken from Jane Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, this is probably one of the most famous opening sentences in English literature. It is clear to see from this one sentence that the novel is going to be about money, marriage and morals. The question is, from whose perspective, is a single, rich man in want of a wife? As we begin to read the novel, it becomes apparent that it is Mrs Bennet who believes that all rich, single men must be in want of a wife when she says at the beginning of the very first chapter, "A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls," (volume 1, chapter 1, page 1). Mr and Mrs Bennet have just five daughters. Unfortunately for them, they have no sons and in the time of Jane Austen writing Pride and Prejudice, it was only the sons who could, and would, inherit the wealth of the family. ...read more.

Middle

Mr Collins then offers a proposal of marriage to Charlotte, which is accepted, much to the dismay of Elizabeth. "Engaged to Mr Collins! my dear Charlotte, - impossible!" (Volume1, chapter 23, page 96.) Then, much to the shock of Elizabeth, she is offered another proposal of marriage, only this time by a Mr Darcy. A man whom she despises, despite the fact he has a fortune of ten thousand a year. It is a shock to Elizabeth to receive this offer because until this moment, she is under the impression that Mr Darcy shares similar feelings for her. Elizabeth is determined to marry for love and that financial security in marriage is not as important. We have seen this view is quite contrary to that of Mrs Bennet, and after confiding in her sister, Jane, and being "certain of a willing listener," (volume 2, chapter 17, page 173), if ever Elizabeth needed to speak of it again, the pair decide it best to keep the offer of marriage and Elizabeth's refusal secret, especially from Mrs Bennet. The first of the daughters to marry is the youngest, Lydia. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, she is mistaken and Mr Darcy soon lets it known to Elizabeth that his feelings haven't changed and if her feelings towards him are still unchanged then she should let it known and he would say no more. Instead, she assures him "that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure," (volume 3, chapter 16, page 280), and now accepts his proposal of marriage and the most significant wedding of the novel is about to take place. As we reach the end of the novel, we realise that marriage is as important to each character as it is to Mrs Bennet, but for different reasons, and these reasons are as individual as the characters themselves. We also see that `First Impressions', which was what Jane Austen originally called the novel, can sometimes be misleading, as in the case of Elizabeth's first impressions of Mr Darcy. Eventually, Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia are as happy as one another at having married the men they did, as is Mrs Bennet. Mrs Bennet is especially happy for Elizabeth, at her finding such a rich man, as she expresses when she says to her, "how rich and great you will be!" (Volume 3, chapter 18, page 290. ...read more.

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