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Pride and Prejudice is a novel about women who feel they have to marry to be happy. Taking Charlotte Lucas as a starting point, do you think Austen is making a social criticism of her eras view of marriage?

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Introduction

"Pride and Prejudice" is a novel about women who feel they have to marry to be happy. Taking Charlotte Lucas as a starting point, do you think Austen is making a social criticism of her era's view of marriage? Austen's view of marriage in "Pride and Prejudice" is that girls have to marry in order for them to be happy. She also shows her viewpoint towards social status when all of the Bennet girls are allowed to go to balls at the same time. Although she criticises her era's view on marriage, she also supports it. Radically, in the novel, most of the female characters are allowed out at the same time. In the nineteenth century, only the eldest daughter was allowed out to balls and social events. When she got married, the next daughter was allowed out. In the novel, most of the Bennet followed the steps made by society that you were supposed to take before you got married; this supports her era's view of marriage. However, the only exception of this is Lydia because she elopes with Wickham and doesn't follow the social conventions. The marriages that will be focused on in this essay are: Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins; Mr and Mrs Bennet: Lydia Bennet and George Wickham; Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley; and finally Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. ...read more.

Middle

Bennet wants them to make a good match and be happy with whomever they marry. This is shown when Elizabeth refuses Mr Collins' proposal. Her mother is sick with worry that her daughter will become a spinster and will be frowned upon by society. She gets Mr. Bennet involved and, instead of agreeing with Mrs. Bennet, he states: "'from this day onwards you must be a stranger to one of your parents.'" As a consequence of this Mrs. Bennet becomes infuriated but because Mr. Bennet is the man of the house she must, under social expectations, listen to and do what he says. This is another marriage that covertly criticises Austen's era's view on marriage. It suggests that if you don't get to know the person you marry then you will be unhappy. It also shows us that if you are impolite in public then it will be hard to find respectable suitors for your daughters. The succeeding marriage shows what happens when you are stupid and senseless. It is also seen as a warning to the other Bennet sisters. Lydia Bennet is an incredibly foolish girl and George Wickham is impeccably sly. This marriage was never meant to happen and Wickham was forced into it by Darcy. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is not typical of nineteenth century proposals as men only proposed once and then didn't propose again after there first proposal was turned down. This marriage, being the most radical, does criticise the nineteenth century view on marriage. It was seen as disrespectful and impolite for women to turn down proposals, yet this is exactly what Elizabeth does. Also, men were meant to marry a woman with the same social status and links with authority but Darcy does not do this. As both of them overcome their pride and marry for love, this is a social criticism of nineteenth century marriage. To conclude, Austen does criticise her era's view on marriage. The only marriage in which she supports the view fully is Lydia and Wickham's marriage, all of the other marriages are criticised in one way or another. At the time when "Pride and Prejudice" was written it was seen as a very radical text. However, other books were written and they got more and more radical. For example, "The Yellow Wallpaper," written in 1892 by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was an extremely radical text. It is the story of how a man locks his wife in a room and he becomes more and more psychotic and eventually she turns mad. This shows us how Austen became the starting point of radical texts and criticisms on her era's view of marriage. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jordan g ...read more.

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