The Pride and the Prejudice is set during the Napoleonic Wars, in England. During these times the societal view on marriage seems incomprehensible to society today. The vast majority of marriages during the time period of the Pride and the Prejudice were based solely off of social class, economic stature, physical attraction, or societal gain, while love wasn’t given a second look the majority of the time. Today, marriages based on those factors alone are heavily criticized and looked down upon, while love is the key residing factor for the development of a marriage today.
Jane Austen incorporated those ideal about marriage into the Pride and the Prejudice, while also staying true to the normalities of the time period, creating a diverse range of marriages based on many alternating factors and feeling to the point where each is individual and unique in their own way, telling their own story with their own morals and values being shown in the process.
Showing how some rely on economic gain and support for a successful marriage, others focus on social class and societal gain, while some choose not to conform to the shackles of society and use happiness and love as the cornerstone for their marriage.
One specific marriage that embodies 21st century marital values was the marriage between Joseph Bingley and Jane Bennet. Their first meeting there was an immediate connection between the two, being described as “in a way to be very, very much in love.” Their love at first sight connection continued, even though Jane was of a lower social stature, Mr.
Bingley over looked that and loved her for who she really was, even disregarding the continuous pushes from his sister to marry Georgiana Darcy. His intensions are only diverted when he is convinced my his best friend Darcy that Jane is not in love with him, and he feels as if he doesn’t want to be in a marriage where the love is not mutual between partners. But, his love is reestablished when Darcy tells him that he was wrong, showing that love and happiness is the true foundation and cornerstone for the marriage between Jane and Mr. Bingley. Not all marriages in the novel were as loving and appealing as this one.
The marriage between Wickham and Lydia is one not based on love, but on lust, superficiality, and youthful vivacity. Wickham begins very friendly and charismatic to Elizabeth Bennet, but after Elizabeth realized his true intentions, he fled to a woman named Miss. King because she was in the possession of ten thousand pounds, and after a fail in that acquisition, he fled back to Lydia. He sees love and marriage as a means of acquiring the wealth he lost, and sexual attraction as an incentive for marriage. Lydia’s intensions were not much better than his; she was just a young girl of fifteen years, with an empty mind and a desire to live free, not even giving love the opportunity to present itself when considering marriage. His intentions compiled with Lydia’s na?ve desire for an unrestrained life manufactured a marriage based on sexual attraction and economic prosperity over long term love and happiness.
Lydia and Wickham’s marriage may have been based on ill intentions, but it was still not as soulless as the marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas. Their marriage was based singularly on the premises of social and financial security. Charlotte accepted Mr. Collins proposal because she felt as if this was her sole option, and that if she would deny she would be a burden to her family who would have to support her throughout her lifetime. She also noted that happiness in marriage was based on chance and that she just wanted to live out her life comfortably. Collins had gone to Hertfordshire with the idea of getting married, and when he was rejected by Elizabeth Bennet, he became more desperate than he previously was. Charlotte was agreeable, and that was all the necessary qualifications he was looking for at that point. Charlotte and Collins marriage was disastrous from a love and happiness based point of view, it was an antiquate marriage because both were desperate and in need for a partner which could provide financial and social stability, which was widely accepted and encouraged.
The ideals and morals of matrimony as drastically changed and virtually flipped over the past 220 years. During the time of the novel it was a normality to have a marriage built upon financial or social gain, and it was even looked down upon to marry based on love, especially when it was a marriage between people of separate social classes. Now, it’s highly encouraged to marry based on love, and looked down upon to marry based on social and economic reasons. Throughout that 220 years mankind has evolved from a system designed to cater to superiors and where individuality has no place, to a society where individuality and uniqueness has become a cornerstone in everyday life and that it is taught to embrace happiness and love, not hide it in order to appease others.
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