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Prose Study Coursework: How does Jane Austen Present Marriage and the Marriage Market in the novel Pride and Prejudice.

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Introduction

Prose Study Coursework: How does Jane Austen Present Marriage and the Marriage Market in the novel Pride and Prejudice In the novel Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen presents marriage as a key part of life in the late eighteenth century, early nineteenth century. Pride and Prejudice, similar Jane Austen's other novels, is written with refined satire and with a very clear observance of human relationships. It has been said Jane Austen saw all of life through a teacup. That through the small narrow world of social interaction that she lived and wrote about, the fact there was all of human emotion and feelings and behaviour reflected. Marriage was considered the most respectable option for women in the nineteenth century England; marriage would give a woman or man status. Such concern with marriage also represented the social inferiority of women and the clear distinction between male and female roles in the society. Few professions were open for women of the genteel classes, so their social status and income were determined by whom they married. The only profession available to young ladies was that of being a governess, which meant educating the daughters of a family, but this was a job with poor working conditions and low pay. Although Jane Austen herself never married, many of her novels deal with the themes of love and marriage in general. Austen presents the importance of marriage through the characters in her novels, in the various marriages and the social intercourse their daily lives revolved around. She particularly puts across her outlook on marriage through the foremost character, Elizabeth Bennet, who is one of Jane Austen's favourite heroines and through her actions and utterances we gain an understanding of Jane Austen's own views. Austen lived in a time when views on marriage and social class in the society of nineteenth century England were very different from views in modern society. ...read more.

Middle

Mr Bennet's self-realisation comes at the end of the novel when he discovers that his lack of attention towards his family has lead to his family's near downfall. 'Let me not have the pain of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life,' Mr Bennet says when talking to Elizabeth about Darcy. The advice he is speaking is from his own experience, he has very little respect for his wife. You see his view of his marriage, unfulfilling. This is Jane Austen's example of a weak father. Austen shows that it is necessary to use good judgement to select a suitable partner; otherwise the two people will lose respect for each other. They do not have an equal partner ship. The marriage between Mr and Mrs Gardiner is totally unlike the Bennets; the Gardiners are a sensible, lively and intelligent couple. They love each other and work well together. The Gardiners enter the story at the point that Caroline Bingley's lack of these qualities is clearly demonstrated in her treatment of Jane. It is hard to believe that Mr. Gardiner is Mrs. Bennet's brother as he is so much more likeable and sensible. Elizabeth looks up to Mrs. Gardiner, not to Mrs. Bennet. What's more Mr and Mrs Gardiner are a great deal more relaxed with one another, 'My love,' says Mrs Gardiner when asking Mr Gardiner a question, which is an immediate contrast to the Bennets' calling one another 'Mr Bennet, Mrs Bennet.' It is evident the Gardiners enjoy the company of each other. 'After walking some time' within the grounds of Pemberly 'Mrs Gardiner, who, was fatigued by the exercise of the morning, found Elizabeth's arm inadequate to her support, and consequently preferred her husbands.' This shows their closeness and that they rely on each other unlike The Collins', The Bennets' and The Wickhams' marriages where there is clearly no love, simply, slight infatuation at the beginning of the marriages. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane Austen presents contrasting types of marriage, reflecting the social critique of the time, which was the marriage market. Jane Austen presents the marriage market in a negative light. She especially criticises Mrs Bennet for she encourages the marriage market with her ignorant and superficial outlooks, her aim in life: marrying of her daughters. We know Jane Austen is not against marriage itself as she illustrates successful marriages within the novel however these are balanced with unsuccessful marriages. She shows the imperfections in the marriage market by the marriages that she presents in a negative way. She criticises the Bennets' as they married merely on physical attraction and when that was gone they both found them selves not liking each other, with little thought of anything else, Mr Wickham solely marrying for money, Lydia and Miss Bingley for flaunting them selves. The disastrous marriages shown in the novel are mainly based on looks and money (these being what the cattle market is based on) showing that Jane Austen does not agree with marriages based on superficial qualities. However, Jane Austen doesn't condemn Charlotte marrying for money, she respects she was getting older and needed financial security and at the time Jane Austen lived many marriages were arranged on this basis. All the same she does criticise Wickham for marrying purely for wealth. Jane Austen also criticises the Bennets' for not even thinking about their financial state. You could criticise Jane Austen seeing that her two heroines who did have happy, successful marriages did not have to make the choice between money and love. They were suitably provided with them both. Although Elizabeth and Jane did marry for the right reasons they were in relationships where each partner had similar interests, character and intelligence. I believe Jane Austen's view of a happy successful marriage is one that is based on mutual respect, esteem and gratitude, arising from a clear understanding of the other person's character and a balance between love and money and not one founded by the marriage market. ...read more.

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