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The Theme of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

The Theme of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice Marriage is a central theme in the novel Pride and Prejudice. In this essay I shall be discussing the theme of marriage in Pride and Prejudice, by looking at how all the different marriages are portrayed and exploring the author's view of marriage. Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813. In the 19th century, marriage was treated quite differently. There was no real way for young women of the "genteel", or upper and middle classes, to strike out on their own or be independent. Professions, universities and politics were not open to women. Few occupations were open to them, and the few that were (such as being a governess) were not highly respected, and did not generally pay well or have very good working conditions. Therefore most "genteel" women could not get money except by marrying for it or inheriting it and since estates were often entailed to male heirs, this was an unlikely occurrence. This being so, families were anxious that their daughters should have a good marriage, which would improve their position both socially and economically. The opening line of the book, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" reflects this obsession with ensuring good marriages. ...read more.

Middle

He takes them now for people of fashion.''" When he learns who they are, he treats them no differently, and Elizabeth "[glories] in every expression, every sentence of her uncle, which marked his intelligence, his taste, or his good manners". The Gardiners have a happy marriage and appear as a well-balanced couple. I think in this couple Jane Austen shows how she does not disapprove of people earning their keep by being in respectable business. The next marriage is the rather scandalous affair of Wickham and Lydia. Lydia "had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence", and Elizabeth is worried "the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia's character" will shame all the Bennet sisters. In the end, Elizabeth is proved right, as Lydia elopes with Wickham, who at first appears "amiable and pleasing". However, beneath his "happy manners" he is shallow and fickle, switching his affections from Elizabeth to Mary King and then back to Elizabeth, and attempting to elope with Georgiana Darcy before his elopement with Lydia. Thinking back on what Wickham has said, Elizabeth "was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is when Elizabeth finds herself starting to fall in love with him. Darcy finds that he is attracted to Elizabeth much earlier on, and that "[her face] was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes...he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness." Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet approve of the marriage, although Lady Catherine does not. "Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all the genuine frankness of her character in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she sent him language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. But at length, by Elizabeth's persuasion, he was prevailed on to overlook the offence, and seek a reconciliation; and, after a little farther resistance on the part of his aunt, her resentment gave way, either to her affection for him, or her curiosity to see how his wife conducted herself" This does not appear to This is Jane Austen's perfect marriage. Both characters are very much in love and Elizabeth has married above her class. ...read more.

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