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Pride and prejudice- theme of marriage

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Introduction

Pride & Prejudice How does is the theme of marriage presented in Jane Austen's novel Pride & Prejudice? By Annabelle Sykes Jane Austen introduces the theme of marriage from the very start of the novel with the famous opening 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 distinctly sarcastic line shows how Austen uses irony to mask her personal view on marriage, as there can be nothing 'universally acknowledged' about anything. She also establishes the inevitable connection between money and marriage that is commented on throughout the novel. The underlying truth in the quote, however, is the fact that in the 19th century society that Austen lived in, money, not love inspired women to marry. Economic problems were particulary acute for women and they were often forced to marry, as spinsterhood was not only socially unacceptable but would also leave them impoverished. For these women, earning a decent income of their own was not a viable option. 19th century women, however high up on the social ladder, were near powerless and relied completely on their husbands and male relatives. ...read more.

Middle

And his arrogance stretches even further, on several occasions talking about 'when we are married'. He has absolutely no doubt in his mind that Elizabeth will accept due to the fact she is economically inferior to him. Elizabeth, however, rejectshis proposal and chance to be rich and she says 'You could not make me happy, and I am convinced I am the last woman in the world who would make you so.' She is very moral in her decision and sticks to it determinedly. Mr Collins is so oblivious of Elizabeths motives that he arrogantly sees her refusal as a display modesty rather than a moral choice. This shows how extremely unsuited Mr Collins was for Elizabeth because he clearly cannot tell what she is feeling or thinking or even understand her actions towards him. However, Mrs Bennet is so determined on marrying Elizabeth to a wealthy man she completely disregards her daughter's happiness and the question of whether the pair are compatible enough for a successful and happy relationship. She disloyally agreed to the engagement before the proposal and when Mr Collins announces he has 'your respected mother's permission for this address.', Elizabeth is shocked beyond belief. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth is very lucky to be able to satisfy her own needs for happiness and equality at the same time as making herself financially safe and this was very rare in the 19th century. The book ends with the wedding and, by telling us that Darcy and Elizabeth were 'both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude' towards the Gardiner's, Austen also suggests that they are indeed happy ever after. However, we cannot forget the other marriages in the novel completely, despite the excitement of the ending. Jane and Elizabeth are exceptions to marriage and for most women, the fate that awaits them is a marriage similar to Charlotte's to Mr Collins or Lydia's to Mr Wickham. Elizabeth is very lucky to have had the youth, beauty and intelligence which have given her her power but Austen makes it clear that her greatest strength is her intelligent judgement and not the shallower parts of her personality. Though Austen is critical of marriage, often showing it in a bad light, she never says marriage is morally wrong. What she does make clear however, is that approaching marriage in a materialistic way such as Mrs Bennet has consequences.. Through the pattern of marriages in the book Austen shows the dangers and pitfalls marriage can offer and also explores the ways a woman can balance realistic ideas, romance and personal satisfaction. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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