Jane Austen's Views towards Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

In this novel the main theme is the importance of how to get a husband, and preferably a rich one. In Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen has very strong views on marriage. We can see this because she has based the whole of her novel around marriage making it the dominant theme. Showing us a variety of different marriages. Starting from the first page where she reveals to us the marriage of Mr and Mrs Bennet and until towards the end when she finally reveals to us the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.

From the opening sentence the readers are told that this novel is based around marriage. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. This is an ironic sentence by the author setting the scene of topic straight away. This not only shows us that marriage is involved here ” want of a wife” but it also tells the reader that a lot of the time when marriage was to be the subject, the word money or fortune was to be part of the conversation too.

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It tells us also that it was in the interest of a woman to marry a man with a fortune, or at least some good deal of money. As this chapter began with the first sentence revealing the theme of marriage to us, the last sentence in the chapter outlines the rest of the book and the marriages to follow.

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” The business of her life was to get her daughters married”. We find out later that Mrs Bennet is not so very lucky to have all of her daughters in happy marriages. Yet she has still been showed as a very lucky mother towards the end “The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world”. Where she has been showed having three of her five daughters away and married.

This shows how much society has changed because today a mother would probably wish their daughter with a good qualification. Rather than away and married soon as a proposal of marriage is set forward. This fact also produces maybe a suggestion to the reader that in them days maybe marriage was viewed by many as a competition. A competition that if won would provide the prizes of security and possibly good fortune if the man was to be one of �5000 a year, or maybe even more if you were to marry a man with the name Mr. Darcy. Not to forget the prize of becoming a wife even if it meant not necessarily marrying the man you loved. When Austen writes about the first marriage in her book she clearly revels to the reader through the eyes of Mr and Mrs Bennet that a man and woman not necessarily married because of love. This also supports the fact that during Austen’s time divorce wasn’t very common. Otherwise this unsuccessful marriage most probably would be over. But during Austens time people who divorced were very frowned upon. So Mr Bennet had to stick in his marriage.

The first marriage that is introduced to us in the opening pages of the novel is that of Mr and Mrs Bennett. As the reader reads on more and more revelations of the author’s attitudes are revealed. For every man and woman marriage is a serious episode of their life. One which lasts for majority of their life. From this marriage we learn that Mr Bennet seems to have paid a very heavy price for his marriage because he has married a woman who he doesn’t love, he simply had married her for her good looks; she was nor wealthy. Neither did he marry her for love. Mr Bennet now regrets that he had married Mrs Bennet as he finds her very annoying and takes advantage on every occasion to tease her. He does this at the end of the first chapter when he tells his wife that he is not going to visit Mr. Bingley. Yet with her lack of intelligence and with the failure of realising her own husband she fails to realise the sarcasm in his personality that he has possessed for twenty-three years “the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character”.

Furthermore through the characters and marriage of the Bennets the author shows the audience that people not necessarily married due to love. But the intelligence level of the two people did matter hugely, if the two people were of two different intelligence levels, as this relied on how much respect was showed to one another. In this circumstance it was the woman of low intelligence levels marrying a man of higher intelligence. So Mr Bennet often takes this as an advantage and disrespects Mrs Bennet. Also towards the end of the novel Mr Bennet tells Jane to respect Mr Darcy when they marry. Here the author has told the audience through Mr Bennet that lack of respect for one another would result in an unsuccessful marriage. Like what happened in his marriage. Also we can see from the role that Mrs Bennet plays in the book that maybe she had married Mr Bennet simply for his money. Her marriage was based on her being in the financial gain, and so in the novel she desires her daughters to be the same. She is furious when Elizabeth turns down Collins, as her marriage to him would mean the estate would stay in the family allowing financial gain maybe. She found Darcy rather unpleasant, but would have been furious if Elizabeth had told her that she had turned Darcy’s marriage proposal down too. By showing us these financial points the author has allowed the reader to view another attitude that she had towards a successful marriage. It tells the reader that marriage may be not about love yet it was still about money. Yet not as important as being away and married.

The author has been very clever as to where she has placed the marriage of Mr and Mrs Bennet in relation with the novel. She has placed it at the start of the novel, as this would be common sense to introduce the parents at the start. But the author has also managed to show few of the main attitudes of marriage she had by introducing the marriage of the Bennets. By this information regarding her attitudes it outlines the upcoming theme of the story. Also because of the readers response to the different attitudes not explained in such detail in the opening marriage. It makes the reader want to read further in the novel until they get a perfect picture of the themes and attitudes that Jane Austen had; which she expresses by viewing to the reader more marriages. By showing us the character of Mrs Bennet in this marriage the author has shown to the readers the typical view that a mother had towards marriage in Austen’s time.

Showing that during the time when this novel was being written marriage between man and woman was chosen in a very similar manner to the way marriages is chosen today. A life long decision either to like or regret was entirely decided by the daughter herself. As the audience can see when the marriage between Mr.Collins and Elizabeth collapses, not that there was going to be a marriage, after her refusal to his marriage proposal. The parents would also put forward their advise and opinion. As would a parent today because they want their child to marry the right person so that they can live happily every after. Especially the mother (As we can see from Mrs Bennet). But no matter what they could not force their child. This is because if Mrs Bennet were to make this decision then it would have been Elizabeth Collins. During Austen’s time marriage was a great security for a happy life since there was nothing like the social security, old age pensions or health insurance’s we are provided with today. Like mentioned earlier marriage wasn’t an easy thing and you couldn’t be picky about it. You should simply take the man chosen by your mother usually and wish to live happily ever after. But like Austen’s showed us this didn’t happen. The decision was entirely the daughters.

“If you go on refusing every offer of marriage, you will never get a husband and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead.” The sentence above is the quoting of Mrs. Bennet to Elizabeth after the refusal of Mr. Collins’ proposal. This is because here Jane Austen is trying to show through Elizabeth that may be there were some people in her society that married for financial reasons. There were other women that were willing to marry for the sake of it. Just so that they were married, could be provided with security and hope to live not under the same roof their parents lived under for the rest of their life. This is shown to us throw the character of Charlotte Lucas and her marriage to Mr Collins.

In the marriage of Mr Collins and Charlotte, Mr Collins had originally planned to find himself a daughter of the Bennets so that when he is inherited the estate the reason behind his inheritance couldn’t only be being the next male down in the family. When Mr Collins is turned down by Elizabeth, leaving her mother furious for such act, he makes his way to the family of Charlotte Lucas. From where he manages to find himself a wife. These few pages in the story in it self tell the reader that there is no love between Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas. This is because at first he goes to Elizabeth to become his wife and then within minutes he’s at the Lucas’s house ready to get engaged to Charlotte Lucas. This just tells us that Mr Collins is simply looking for a wife and uses his financial issue as an advantage into getting himself a wife.

With fortune being a great advantage he successfully manages to do this. Here Jane Austen allows us to see not only through the Bennets marriage but also through this marriage, that marriage could happen through thin air. Love didn’t have to be there. Charlotte’s words support this when she tells Elizabeth “am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connexions, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” She simply accepts to marry him. Knowing what to expect from Mr Collins’ character. Over and over again in the novel the author writes about love and its relation to marriage. This could may be because Jane Austen is trying to tell the reader that love wasn’t a major issue when it came down to marriage. But Elizabeth thought different. It matters a lot what Elizabeth thinks in this novel. This is because by reading the text we come to realise that Jane Austen has showed her views and attitudes through Elizabeth.

Throughout the book on several occasions Elizabeth turns down two rich men. Not taking their financial accounts into any interest because she thought different. Very different to her mother who married her father for his money. But Jane didn’t believe herself into this financial trap. Instead she believed that she rather marry a man who she loved. Here Jane issues the more modern marriage issue. She expresses through Elizabeth that though there may be many who simply married because of money or wanting of a husband in this competition. There were still some women who were ready to risk getting married for marrying a man they loved. Elizabeth turns down Mr Darcy, a rich man of many thousand a year. Something a lot of women had only dreamt of (Miss Bingley) and earlier on in the novel she had also turned down Mr Collins. But then out of chance there also comes some marriages merely out of chance being successful with man and woman in love. In the marriage of Jane and Bingley Austen develops these attitudes.

Though many women may marry simply to get married. Also through the marriage of Jane and Bingley Austen shows that love did still exist. Jane and Bingley towards the end of the novel show this attitude of Jane Austen by getting married. This is shown to us in the way that Jane and Bingley had not met for a long time. Yet due to the love that existed between them their marriage day came. Jane Bennet has been showed as the more fallen in love out of the two for she doesn’t let anything come in the way. Whereas when Bingley had been approached by Mr Darcy on an earlier occasion. Suggesting Jane not been right for him, he had let Mr Darcy do the thinking for him and had walked straight into the barrier that lay ahead of him. Yet as the audience are shown towards the end of the novel that their love did blossom and Miss Jane Bennet becomes Mrs Bingley.

Pride and Prejudice is a novel about marriage. Austen has shown to us in this novel what she believes are the key ingredients for a successful (and unsuccessful) marriage. Equality of intelligence would provide the respect for one another, which would result into a successful marriage. As would a marriage based entirely upon love. Like in the marriage of Jane and Bingley. Also she has shown to us through the marriage of Wickham and Lydia that financial security was also very important. Otherwise the marriage wouldn’t be very successful and be a marriage like of the Bennets. A marriage lacking respect for one another

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Jane Austen's Views towards Marriage in Pride and Prejudice. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jane-austens-views-towards-marriage-pride-prejudice-new-essay

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