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Show how the treatment of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice reflects the historical period in which Jane Austen lived.

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Introduction

LEALANDS HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH/ENGLISH LITERATURE GCSE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Show how the treatment of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice reflects the historical period in which Jane Austen lived. Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 during the Regency period. From a woman's point of view, marriage was seen as "the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune". Marriage was seen as the only way of securing a home and a decent living. If a woman wasn't married she would have the life of a spinster, and depend upon a family who may not always support her. The only other choice was to become a governess, where once again a woman would be dependent on a family. So, considering these options, most young women were obliged to get married. Most marriages were based on physical attraction, financial security or love and affection; of all these, financial security was the main reason for marriage. Women married for financial security because it established a secure livelihood and a definite home. Another reason for marrying a man in a higher social class was that, if the eldest sister married well, the rest of the family would be of a higher status than previously. To marry for love and affection was quite rare at this period in time, as money played a big factor. For example, in another Jane Austen novel - Persuasion - the heroine, Anne Elliot falls in love with Captain Wentworth, but, as he is penniless, they are forced apart. From a man's perspective the reasons for marriage were very similar. A man married to bring status, wealth, estate and prestige. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This quote confirms the assumption (of the period) that any man with an estate would marry. ...read more.

Middle

Their marriage is going to survive as an emotionless, distant relationship, as both characters share no 'love' for one another, and have more interest where their partner is not concerned. Marriage based on physical attraction is what remains. Within the novel there are two cases of this sort of matrimony. The wedlock of Lydia to Wickham and the marriage of Mr and Mrs Bennet. Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet girls, is an exact replica of her mother (note she is also Mrs Bennet's 'favourite'). She's described as having "high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence". She's extremely flirtatious and is interested in nothing more than fun, clothes, men and dancing. She is ruled by a romantic temperament, which encourages her to fall in 'love' so hastily with Wickham. Lydia's characteristics are true of some young women today, but unlike the Regency period, a young woman today wouldn't be putting such a 'social scandal' upon her family, and would be able to learn from her mistakes and progress. Lydia ignores the inevitable social scandal, which will reflect upon her family (and cause unhappiness for her sisters, regarding Bingley and Darcy) and views her escape with Wickham as a "joke". She has no regards for the position she leaves her family in, and once returning to Longbourn after her public disgrace, "Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations," this clearly proves she's almost proud of herself and shows no shame to what she has done. Wickham is a completely different character to Lydia, as he openly demonstrates no intention of marrying her. Wickham is undoubtedly stylish, attractive, credible and therefore extremely desirable to young ladies. He exhibits "all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address". He is an opportunist; he needs to find a distinguished match to sustain his lifestyle and uses a combination of manners, politeness and good looks to disguise his genuine personality. ...read more.

Conclusion

For, though your accusations were ill-founded, formed on mistaken premises, my behaviour to you at the time had merited the severest reproof. It was unpardonable. I cannot think of it without abhorrence.'' He has realised her reasons for denying him, which in some way has made him pursue her furthermore. They both declare how they have learnt from their feelings and from the actions they've taken towards one another. Elizabeth explains of the letter, "what its effect on her had been, and how gradually all her former prejudices had been removed". And Darcy claims, "What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled." It is clear from this gradual proposal that both these characters learn from one another and the experiences, which they share. Their marriage is clearly going to be a meeting of two minds as well as hearts. It is such a shame; therefore, that there type of marriage wasn't one of very many in the Regency period. Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage is seen as 'ahead of their time', and most marriages today would be seen as being based on similar reasons to their marriage. Compatibility and strong, passionate love are seen to be the greatest reason for marriage, this is also Austen's view, as she rewards Elizabeth with the most loving, devoted husband, who also has the greatest wealth. For marriages, which she disapproves of, such as Charlotte and Collins' wedlock, she punishes by giving Charlotte a disagreeable and irritating husband. However, Austen realises that Charlotte had almost no choice, as of her situation. The couples that Austen entirely disagrees with are those who married for lust and physical attraction. She punishes these hasty marriages by declining them a happy married life, financially or emotionally. By punishing these couples, she has shown her view that if you marry for the right reasons, in her opinion, love, then you'll have the most prosperous marriage. Pride and Prejudice Page 1 ...read more.

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