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Pride and Prejudice - A Study of The Two Marriage Proposals that Elizabeth Declines: Romance Versus Security.

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Introduction

Rachael Elliott 10D Pride and Prejudice A Study of The Two Marriage Proposals that Elizabeth Declines. Romance Versus Security. "It is universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." These are the words of Jane Austen, and like many people of her time, she believed very much in the importance of finding a wealthy husband for young women. Jane Austen's novel reflects the importance of marriage to many people around 1775. Although events such as the industrial revolution were sweeping the country, these were ignored and the life of a few middle class families in a country village were depicted. Marriage at this time was a way of securing a happy livelihood and relative happiness; love was not really a factor, marriage was a source of financial security. Being more of a convenience than a romantic affair. However this was beginning to become a factor as traditions slowly changed around this period. Still many women married to their advantage; there was still a very rigid class system although a new middle class was beginning to emerge. The alternative was life as a governess, which was not one of great social status. Jane Austen believed that marriage was "The only honourable provision for well educated young woman of small fortune." ...read more.

Middle

Not romantically orientated at all, it is hardly going to win any woman's heart, least of all Elizabeth's. He breaks down his reasons, numbering them. And although Collins is sincere, the element of comedy is never lost as he is excessively formal and at great length tries to explain his reason, which is clearly unnecessary. "...Made Elizabeth so near laughing." The sheer length reflects Collins long winded nature. He even manages to mention Lady Catherine De Bourgh. As he draws to the end of his speech Collins does attempt a little romance, but all in vain: "...The most animated language of the violence of my affections". Elizabeth becomes a little alarmed and rightly so, as Collins thinks it impossible for her to refuse. "...You are too hasty, sir." But Collins won't brook a refusal and continues with his stilted speech until Elizabeth has had enough and forcefully rejects him. Mr. Collins assumes this is the usual behaviour of young woman and that Elizabeth is simply being coy. His ignorance adds to the comedy. It takes 5 firm rejections before he seems to accept her answer. This refusal was very brave of Elizabeth .So much so that it may even be considered foolhardy. She cannot be guaranteed another proposal of marriage. Leaving her future hanging in the balance. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the time Darcy leaves Elizabeth is reeling, she can't believe his feelings. Astonishment leads to anger, as he showed no sign of denying his involvements with the break up of Jane and Mr. Bingley. To turn down one marriage proposal was risky but to do so again must have been foolish, most women would have thrown themselves at Darcy's feet. He is a wealthy handsome young suitor. However Elizabeth cannot be married to some one she despises. She makes it perfectly clear to Darcy that however he had proposed she wouldn't have accepted, "...You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it." There is a rather ironic link that both men that propose are the only two men on earth Elizabeth wouldn't dream of marrying. This is a great show of strength and courage. With a mother such as Mrs. Bennet it would be difficult to find any one who would be happy to take on such a family connection and Darcy makes it clear that to marry Elizabeth would be a "degradation" but nothing will deter him. The two marriage proposals are very different and very different outcomes; whether Elizabeth was foolhardy to decline two or not is debatable, but it is true to say she shows great independence considering her financial insecurity and social status. In turning down these proposals, was she ruining her chances of ever having a decent future? ...read more.

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