Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice, this novel was written by Jane Austin between 1796 and 1797. The book captured the situations at the time; with this she really captured the troubles and the family values in the late 17th century.
The main issue highlighted in the story were the responsibilities of women at this time, women were expected to marry and have children with men they may not have been happy with, (this is shown later in the book). Unfortunately for the women, the men at this time were in a short supply, this was due to the extreme large amount of men in the armed forces, fighting abroad. At home the story wasn’t any easier, the mortality rate for girls was much higher than it was for boys, meaning in later life there were to be more females than census men.
The expectations at this time viewed that women were to marry respected men and have children; they were not to divorce or elope.
Due to the lack or height of status the importance of marriage to pair rich family’s together, was incredibly high. For example if a daughter marries a less than standard man the whole family would be disgraced, and if the pair were to elope the family would be crushed with embarrassment.
Among the well – to – do at least, marriage was much like a business transaction. The great families saw marriage as a mean of forming alliances and power. Even amongst lesser families, marriage contracts could include complex financial conditions. However, by the end of the eighteenth century, young people exercised more freedom of choice. For women, marriage was often the only means of social improvement, bar romance. But the involvement of romance would include the mention money and status.
The women would not have much trouble finding suitable men due to the regular desirable balls held at rich house holds and
However, there was a draw back, the only way that a woman would get an invitation to the said balls, was that the male parent or guardian would have to introduce his daughters to the male host of the ball. This way they are polite, meaning that further invitations were given.
These balls were the centres of all main social events, these were the places where the women could socialise and congregate with men. The women took a serious eye on the importance of attending these said events.
The most encouraged role was to be the mother, this figure was to be respected and admired.
The mother also takes an important role in the ‘dating’ process. She mostly feels that she has one main sole purpose in life; this is to marry her daughter/s to men, and very respectable men at that. The mothering figure in Pride and Prejudice was Mrs. Bennet, married to Mr. Bennet. Mr. Bennet like many fathers of that era found it quite important (financially) to encourage the young women to marry the most respected and rich men. If their financial situation was doing well, it may be the family’s estate at risk, as shown in Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet’s estate Longbourn, was not to be habited by the Bennet’s when Mr Bennet dies, because Mr and Mrs Bennet did not have a son, they have no male relative to inherit the estate. This caused a large problem to the Bennets because the nearest relative was the incredibly sleezy cousin Mr Collins, who is disliked by all of the daughters in Longbourn.
This is a preview of the whole essay
In this essay I am planning to research and investigate the proposals, the wanted and the actual marriages of characters in the book Pride and Prejudice.
I will start by introducing you to the characters in the book.
There are about nine main (important) characters I will have to enlighten you about.
Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of the novel, is twenty years old and is the second oldest of the Bennet sisters. She is her father’s favourite and has inherited his wit, independence and intelligence. It is the liveliness of her mind and sense of humour that originally attracts .
Elizabeth’s affectionate nature is demonstrated by her close relationship with , whose sensitive and compassionate nature she admires. Confidence is part of Elizabeth’s appeal but this self-assurance lets her down.
The reader’s attention is first drawn to Mr Darcy as a result of ‘his fine, tall person, handsome features, and noble mien’ (). His annual income of ten thousand pounds makes him even more of a talking point for the ladies of . Despite his wealth, however, he is contrasted with his popular friend and is found to be arrogant and proud:
‘His manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased’ ()
At twenty-two years of age Jane is the eldest and most physically attractive of the Bennet girls. She is even tempered, kind and patient without having the outspoken tendencies of . Her gentle temperament is so pleasant and amiable that it is almost a failing due to its tolerance of other characters.
Mr Charles Bingley is a wealthy, unattached, young man who rents three miles from . He is introduced as ‘good looking and gentlemanlike’ (). His pleasing appearance and sociable manner is also emphasised: ‘he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners’ (). It is this easygoing, uncomplicated manner, which makes him attractive to the equally good-natured .
Lydia is a precocious and well-developed girl of fifteen; unfortunately she has inherited all her mother’s love of trivia and gossip but none of her father’s intelligence. She is high-spirited and empty headed and her behaviour becomes more excessive and outrageous as the story progresses.
Mrs Bennet is a comic character whose lack of social decorum and stupidity conjure up many amusing interludes. She is obsessed with marrying off her daughters before anyone one else marries off theirs.
Mr Bennet is an intelligent and witty man whose sarcasm and humour is largely employed in teasing his wife
‘Mr Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character’ ()
George Wickham is an officer stationed with the regiment at . Before he is formally introduced into the Meryton circle his first impressions are very favourable. He has a ‘most gentlemanlike appearance’ () and ‘had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address’ (). Ironically, his handsome features are deceptive, and hide an unscrupulous and calculating mind.
Mr Collins value as a comic and satirical figure cannot be underestimated. He is introduced as ‘a tall and heavy-looking man of twenty-five. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal’ (). He is a pompous and ridiculous man who is driven solely by his desire to serve, without question, his rich patroness . He is obsequious and on the surface self-effacing, but in reality is obsessed with the quantity and worth of his possessions having little regard for their value. He desires a wife only for the sake of appearances, and his fickle and shallow nature allows him to switch his attentions from to .
In the book we find that not only are there many real marriages, we talk about them later but there were many marriages that were proposed but then later on in the book are cancelled out. The first ideas of marriages come across in the story between Elizabeth Bennet and Wickham; these two characters seem perfectly suitable. But when the truth is show later about his lies and deceit, Lizzie discards him for her future husband Mr Darcy.
The next proposed marriage is one again Elizabeth but this time with a cousin, Mr Collins, as Mr Collins is the closest male relative towards the Bennets which means that he is the character to inherit the Longbourn estate, currently habited but the Bennets, and as you can imagine the Bennet family are encouraged in Mr Collins proposal to Lizzie and became extremely discarding to the denial. Eventually Mr Collins, to the surprise of everyone, marries Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte Lucas.
Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley are very desirable men in their society, and many mothers want their daughters to marry one of them.
For example Mr Darcy’s arrogant aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh is forceful in Darcy marring her daughter (Darcy’s cousin) Lady Anne de Bourgh.
Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley also have their own ideas in their heads, at the beginning of the novel Mr Darcy thinks that Bingley should marry Darcy’s sister and it also works vice versa Mr Bingley would like Mr Darcy to marry his sister Caroline Bingley.
The first marriage we witness is the unsatisfactory relationship between Mr and Mrs Bennet. The main pleasure receives from married life results from teasing his neurotic and foolish wife, and finding amusement at her expense. They are clearly incompatible. Mrs Bennet is obsessed with marrying off her daughters and the local gossip, while Mr Bennet concerns himself with reading and countryside walks. Jane Austin leaves the reader in no doubt that the Bennets’ marriage does not form ‘a very pleasing picture of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort’ (). Mr Bennet had been initially ‘captivated by youth and beauty’ but once these initial attractions hadgone, Mrs Bennet’s ‘weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her’ ().
The second marriage of the novel is the practical and mutually advantageous arrangement between and . Charlotte, who is twenty-seven would have been considered a good bride in Jane Austin’s , realises that any real chance of love has probably passed by her. Although she realises her chances of true happiness are limited, she marries Mr Collins possible in the hope that she will avoid poverty and loneliness in old age:’ Without thinking highly of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want’ ().By marrying the pompous and ridiculous Mr Collins, Charlotte is prepared to lose the respect of her closest friend .
Whereas Charlotte’s marriage receives considerable disapproval, indiscreet and impulsive attachment receives heavy condemnation. After disappearing with Lydia it soon becomes clear that does not intend to marry her, and that Lydia when embarking on her adventure, has no idea of Wickham’s real intentions. The marriage can only take place as a result of tenacity in persuading the untrustworthy Wickham to do the honourable thing. Wickham, a skilled confidence trickster, accepts Darcy’s generous financial incentives. If it had not been for Darcy’s intervention, the resulting scandal would have had damaging consequences for all the Bennet girls.
In Jane Austin’s world, Lydia’s scandalous loss of dignity and fall from grace would have resulted in banishment from her family and respectable society. Even though Lydia is saved from total degradation, her punishment will be an unhappy marriage without the love and respect of her partner.
Jane Austin’s view of marriage is not totally cynical as at the end of the novel we witness two happy marriages.
First we experience the conclusion of courtship of . This is a marriage based on real affection and romantic love, where feelings are mutual and genuine. Elizabeth who has a warm heart and genuine admiration for her sister, has no doubts that true happiness is the guaranteed reward for this uncomplicated and generous couple:’ they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and him’ (). There can be no question of Elizabeth and Darcy’s future happiness.
Jane Austin ends the novel with a portrait of a successful relationship based on growing admiration and affection. Both characters have overcome earlier feelings of before realising the other’s suitability. Their love is gradual, hard won and therefore worth having. The witty and lively Elizabeth could only be happy with a man whose talents and understanding matched her own. Accordingly, Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage is based on mutual respect and intellectual equality.
After reading the book, watching the video and writing this essay I have found many things about the characters and myself! I learnt to understand different things about different characters in the book, and people around me.
The title for the book Pride and Prejudice was a suitable title but if I were to rename the title I would call it… ‘Acceptance’
If I were to recommend this book to a particular age range I would say fifteen year olds upwards, mainly because of the extensive words and complicating methods of communication, between characters in the book.
This book is a fantastic portrayal of women and marriage in the late 17th century.