Shallowness Of Marriage In Pride And Prejudice

613 words - 3 pages

shallowness of marriage in Pride and Prejudice.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (Austen 1).Jane Austen begins Pride and Prejudice with this famous sentence, and introduces to her readers a satirical view of, not love, but marriage, concepts that in 19th century England were not necessarily very closely connected.

England at that time faced serious social problems from the halcyon days of Royalty and Nobility. One of the most significant of these was the trend to marry for financial achievements. Best match was one who could provide for comfortable sustenance, held a laudable status and to add to all possessed looks to be admired and envied. Only when these pre-requisites were fulfilled would love and understandings were considered.This process went both ways: a good-looking ...view middle of the document...

Given the limited schooling and employment opportunities available to women during Austen's time the only occupation open to them was to become wives to wealthy men to gain financial refuge for old age.

To fail in marriage market was to fail in the most imperative of female jobs, as winning a husband was essential if a young lady wished to occupy a fully respectable position in society. The motive for marriage as financial necessity is expressed most clearly in Pride and Prejudice through the character Charlotte Lucas. Aged twenty-seven, without any striking looks or an especially large allowance and with no great expectations she rationalizes her decision to marry Mr. Collins "solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment."(1995:113). She accepts Mr. Collins's proposal because he can give her a comfortable home although she does not love this ridiculous clergyman. She is a realist and fully understands the necessity of financial support or social status. Neither does she expects love to come in marriage nor does she rank it important enough to base a life long commitment on it. She is even happy to get along with Mr:Collins as long as she doesn’t have to die as an old maid. In Hansford it seems that Charlotte did nothing but tend to the chores of maintaining her home and pleasing Lady Catherine. I do not believe that Charlotte and Mr. Collins were in love at all and they did not really seem too happy in each other's company. Charlotte knew Mr: Collins shares none of her intellect, would her intelligence be of any interest to him. Similarly Mr: Collins’s change of interest from Jane Bennet, to Elizabeth Bennet and to Charlotte Lucas shows he wants a wife to run his home, provide him with progenitor to secure the state of Long Bourne, not a life partner to love and understand him. Skillful depiction of this marriage certifies the practicality, convenience and expediency that featured most marital relations in 19th centaury.

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