“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Love, the essence, the core, the visceral life blood of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is the primal thematic device in novel. Love in Pride and Prejudice is not viewed as a necessary component in a successful match but rather the match is based on economic necessity, in essence what monetary resources are brought to the table by both parties in the marriage or the marriage is purely based on lust that rapidly declines and all that is left is a loveless marriage that neither person really enjoys.
The quote from Corinthians 13:4 summarizes what is the embodiment of love, the type or love that is real and blossoms between two people, the type of love that never fades and lasts for the whole of their lives, a love that is full of passion. This type of love, this real love is what makes Pride and Prejudice special and is what makes readers all over the world fall in love with the timeless romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr.
The marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte is a marriage of economic necessity. Neither Mr. Collins nor Charlotte love each other, essentially they are using each other as a means to end. What Mr. Collins wants is a wife to cook, clean and bare children for him; he looks at a wife as a necessity for his station in life; “My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish. Secondly, that I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly — which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness.” (Chapter 6, Paragraph 9) Love never crossed his mind when he asked Charlotte to marry him. He thought only of his happiness, pleasing his patroness, and adding to his economic stability as a clergyman.
Charlotte too does not love Mr. Collins; the main reason she married him is because she was afraid she would never marry and she wants to be able to run her own house to be able to be away from her parents. “In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favored by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.” (Chapter 22, Paragraph 2) Charlotte is not concerned for his happiness; she was only interested in what Mr. Collins could do for her. As it went during this time a marriage like Charlotte and Mr. Collins was very common due to the fact that love was not an important factor that was considered when deciding to marry someone.
Lydia’s marriage to Mr. Wickham is a marriage that is based on lust. Lydia is enthralled by the airs that Mr. Wickham puts on, he seems to be the perfect picture of a gentlemen, he is kind and generous, he is polite and handsome, and he knows just the right thing to say to a girl to build them up and think he can give them the world. Lydia falls for this smooth talking, suave, handsome man without knowing anything of what he truly is.
“MY DEAR HARRIET,
You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. […]
Your affectionate friend,
LYDIA BENNET.” (Chapter 47, Paragraph 60-61)
When Lydia runs away with Mr. Wickham she thinks that she is in love with him and he is going to marry her because he loves her but in all reality he is in lust as is Lydia. The only reason Mr. Wickham married Lydia is because Mr. Darcy paid him the dowry so he would go through with the marriage. Mr. Wickham is not the type of man that falls in love he uses women to get what he wants. Their marriage is solely based on the fact that the both find each other extremely attractive and what money they both have.
However the union between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy is a marriage that is constructed on a deep, unyielding, passionate, fiery love that both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy slowly begin to acknowledge as the novel progresses. A marriage that is based on love is very rare, in Austen’s view of love a marriage that is based on love is reserved for those people who are intelligent and mature adults, to give a character in this time the chance to have love, real love is the ultimate accolade that any author could give to their character.
Contrary to popular belief the love and passion between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is not love at first sight, at first both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are indifferent towards each other, Elizabeth thinks Mr. Darcy is a pompous, arrogant, prideful man; “he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till 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; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.” (Chapter 7, Paragraph 6) and Mr. Darcy thinks that Elizabeth is tolerable but not pretty enough or high enough in station for him;
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” (Chapter 10, Paragraph 7)
However from their indifference stems a love so deep that it cannot be broken. They go through so many trials and tribulations throughout the novel from overcoming their differences and recognizing that their faults were what caused them to feel indifferent towards each other to finally realizing that they had fallen hopelessly, passionately and madly in love with each other. The final proposal from Mr. Darcy captures the love that he feels towards Elizabeth and engenders strong emotion not only in Elizabeth but also for the reader as well;
“…I thought only of you. You are too generous to trifle with me, if your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever. Oh, my feelings, my feelings are – I am ashamed to remember what I said then – my feelings are so different. In fact, they are quite the opposite. … After abusing you so abominably to your face I could have no scruple at abusing you to all your relations. And what did you say of me that I did not deserve? My behavior to you at the time was unpardonable, I can hardly think of it without abhorrence. Your reproof I shall never forget, ‘had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner’, you know not how those words have tortured me. I had not the smallest idea of their being taken in such a way.
I can easily believe it, you thought me devoid of every proper feeling, I’m sure of it. The turn of your countenance I shall never forget. You said that I could not have addressed you in any possible way that would induce you to accept me. Oh, do not repeat what I said then! I have been a selfish being all my life. As a child I was given good principals but was left to follow them in pride and conceit. Such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.” (Austen, 313-317)
Love in this novel goes from the highest peaks of ultimate passion and breathless beauty between two people to valleys that are dry a barren without an ounce of love there. Austen uses love to highlight the social cleavages that are present between all the characters like social status, beauty, and economic status. The theme of love in Pride and Prejudice is used to illustrate how love affects all aspects of life in the novel from the loveless marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte to the lustful marriage of Mr. Wickham and Lydia to the timeless romance of Elizabeth and Darcy, the love shown by Elizabeth and Darcy that Austen illustrates embodies the quote from Corinthians 13:4; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Cite this essay
Timeless Love in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/timeless-love-pride-prejudice-new-essay