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Pride and Prejudice - marriage

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Introduction

Rachael Hill 17th February 2008 With reference to key chapters and important relationships discuss how Jane Austen presents marriage in Pride and Prejudice. What comment on marriage does she make? Pride and Prejudice, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels and one of the first "romantic comedies" that she wrote. The novel opens with the line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife". This tells us that the main focus of the novel is going to be about marriage. The story is set in Jane Austen's time, when marriage was very important for security, wealth and a home to live in. The story centres on the Bennet family and their quest to find their five daughters suitable marriages. Mrs. Bennet's sole interest in life is to see her five eligible daughters well settled and happily married to fine men of 'considerable fortune' However, the task is not an easy one, as they are all very individual and each have their own ideas on what they want from marriage. The story explores the expectations, hopes, aspirations and at times disappointment of the daughters as they encounter stubbornness, prejudice, passion and deep love. Mr Bingly and his close friend Mr Darcy are very important to Jane and Lizzie. Mr Collins is a key character, as he considers three possible proposals. Mr Wickham through his relationship with Lydia is portrayed as a horrible man, with a bad reputation. The Bennet family consists of Mr and Mrs Bennet who live with their five daughters on a farm in Longbourn. Mr Bennet is a gentleman which means that their daughters have the opportunity to marry a wealthy man. It is important that the daughters have successful marriages, as when Mr Bennet dies, his fortunes cannot be passed on to his daughters as only males could inherit and as he had no sons, all of his estate and wealth will be left to their closest male relative, their cousin, Mr Collins. ...read more.

Middle

His second reason was that it would add greatly to his happiness. This tells us that Lizzie's company may provide happiness to Mr. Collins; however he had not yet told her how much he feels for her because he feels that this is not a major reason for marrying. His final reason is that it was the recommendation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He goes into great detail about this and it is clearly important to him. This may give the impression that he is obsessed with Lady Catherine, which irritates Lizzie. He tells her that when he first entered their house, he noticed her above all of her other sisters however we know this is not true as he asks Mrs. Bennet permission to propose to Jane, however when he learns that she is to be engaged he immediately turns his affections towards Lizzie. Also, he believes that as he is to inherit their estate the daughters would automatically wish to marry him. He cannot therefore seem to comprehend the concept of Lizzie's belief that one should only marry for love, and not just for security. The relationship between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is very complicated, as to begin with they appear to despise each other. This is reinforced when Lizzie overhears Mr Darcy criticising her as he says "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me." but when he is forced to share her company more because of the relationship between his closest friend Bingly and Jane, he begins to fall in love with her. When he proposes to Lizzie, it is very different to the way Mr. Collins proposes as one of the first things he says to her is "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Lizzie herself wishes to marry for love, and it is now clear that Mr. Darcy feels the same way. ...read more.

Conclusion

As well as the fact that marrying Wickham will increase Lydia's happiness, she also gets married for her family's sake as she must feel some guilt towards the pain she has caused them. Also, it is to save her reputation and her sisters also, as it would be looked down upon to have slept with a man and not married him. Jane Austen seems to compare the many reasons for marriage through the characters. She shows that Jane and Bingly and Elizabeth and Darcy have successful marriages, as they love each other. Jane Austen has used this success to support her own beliefs, as she too believes that people who are sensible about marriage will find the right man, as, through their determination, Jane and Lizzie have found lasting happiness and love. Jane Austen shows that Wickham and Lydia's marriage is not as successful, as it is a one-way relationship. She gives a sense that Lydia deserved the marriage that she got however, as she acted in a childish manner throughout the book. As Charlotte Lucas rushed into the first marriage that she was offered, it would appear that she also deserved the marriage that she got. Also she compares the already established marriages of Mr and Mrs Gardener to Mr and Mrs Bennet. It is clear that Mr and Mrs Gardener make a very good couple as they always seem to know the right thing to say and are very similar. Mr and Mrs Bennet however are a strange couple as although they married for love, it is clear that Mr Bennet looks at his wife in a sarcastic manner. Throughout the novel, he spends most of his time in his study, staying out of the way of his wife as she constantly raises her nerves and appears to be irritated by her presence. Most of the Bennet's have married for love and romance, including Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Pride and Prejudice explores the many reasons for marriage successfully, and subtly puts over the author's own opinion. ...read more.

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