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Pride and Prejudice- Discuss how society viewed the ideas of love and marriage in the early 1800's.

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Introduction

Pride and Prejudice- Discuss how society viewed the ideas of love and marriage in the early 1800's. Jane Austen was born in 1775 and spent most of her life in the countryside in a village called Steventon, Hampshire. She was the daughter of a clergyman, Reverend George Austen and her mother was called Cassandra Austen. She had a brief education starting at the age of seven and ending at eleven, when she settled at home. Like women in Austen's society, she had little education due to the beliefs at the time; the only education she would have received would likely have been to up her social status, through marriage. She wrote "Pride and Prejudice" to portray society's views of love and marriage to the reader and to shoe that marriages take place for different reasons. We see throughout the novel the excessive number of marriages and courtships that take place. The opening sentence "It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in the possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" introduces the theme of love, marriage and money in an ironic way. The irony is contained in the fact that marriage is meant to be about love and happiness but clearly revolves around wealth and social standing. In the novel we see two established marriages take place; The Bennet's and the Gardiner's. Throughout the novel four other marriages take place; Lydia and Mr Wickham, Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins, Elizabeth and Darcy and Jane and Mr Bingley. ...read more.

Middle

How can it affect them?" Mrs Bennet is immensely annoyed by this but does not possess enough wit to retort. For Mr Bennet this mockery of his wife seems his way of dealing with being stuck in a loveless marriage. In Jane's era divorce was not an option, people had no choice, they were devoted to that one person fro life. The Bennet's estate is entitled to the nearest male heir which, was common practice at the time, leading to very limited options for the daughters in the family. The marriage between Lydia and Mr Wickham was mainly for desire and attraction even though they were not financially matched. This itself was frowned upon by society and exacerbated by the fact that their courtship was very short, unorthodox and kept a secret. Marriage of their type shows the results of not following society's rules. Society viewed this as dishonesty and because of this their reputation would be severely tarnished. "That the loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable... and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the understanding of the other sex". Lydia's damaged reputation would also affect her families reputation, unless they disown her. " she has no money, no connection, nothing that can tempt him she is lost forever". The word no emphasises the fact that she has absolutely nothing and no-one. For Wickham, on the other hand, the slight on his reputation is less so, although still noticeable; "... ...read more.

Conclusion

Darcy and Elizabeth's realization of a mutual and tender love seems to imply that Austin views love as something independent of these social forces, as something that can be captured if only an individual is able to escape the warping effects of hierarchical society. " In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you". Here he speaks well however, there are other feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed. The narrator relates Elizabeth's point of view of events more often then Darcy's, so Elizabeth often seems a more sympathetic figure. The reader eventually realises however, that Darcy is her ideal match. Intelligent and forthright, he too has a tendency to judge too hastily and harshly, and his high birth and wealth make him overly proud and overly conscious of his social status. When he proposes to her, for instance, he dwells more on how unsuitable a match she is than on her charms, beauty, or anything else complimentary, "not handsome enough". Here Darcy is reflecting society's views of love and marriage because many people married for higher social status and financial status rather than for love and beauty. Pride and prejudice is a love story but does not reflect the romantic side. It gives the reader a sense of all the different kinds of relationships, none of them are the same. It shows that the ideal couple is difficult to find, the established marriages in the book being The Bennet's and the Gardiner's. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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