For Love or Money: Marriage in Jane Austen’s Time

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Women of the 1800’s were very limited in what they could do in life - especially the women of the upper and middle classes. They were expected to do nothing more than marry and to marry well. If they could not do this, the life that they faced was very grim. It would be a life of spinsterhood and being cared for by other family members, or working as a governess for some upper class family. Jane Austen’s book, Pride and Prejudice, shows the reader the importance of marrying, and, hopefully, marrying well, but also the important of marrying for love. Jane Austen was born in1775, and the world that she grew up in was one that was very limited for women. Jane was very lucky in the fact that her parents knew how important an education was for all children. She was sent to school, but she received most of her education at home from the books in her father’s library. David Nokes states in his book, Jane Austen, A Life, that “at an early age, Jane had determined that, whatever else might be her fate, she would not indulge the role of charming female imbecile” (103). In her book, Austen shows us many different characters and how they go about the whole game of marriage. There are five relationships depicted in the book: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, Lydia and Wickham, Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Mrs. Bennett is described in the book as being “a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper” (Austen 269). She is a woman with five daughters and her goal in life is to see them all married and hopefully married well. In Understanding Pride and Prejudice, Debra Teachman suggests that “Mrs. Bennet does not have the discernment to be of a real help to h... ... middle of paper ... ...rison of Two Novels by Jane Austen.” Critical Insights, Jane Austen. Ed. Jack Lynch. Hackensack, NJ: Salem Press, 2010. Print Halliday, E.M. “Narrative Perspective in Pride and Prejudice.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of Pride and Prejudice. A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. E. Rubinstein. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1969. Print Morgan, Susan. “Intelligence in Pride and Prejudice.” Modern Critical Interpretations - Pride and Prejudice. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 1987. Print Teachmen, Debra. Understanding Pride and Prejudice: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997. Print Sternlicht, Sanford. "Chapter 4: Pride and Prejudice." Jane Austen. John Lauber. New York: Twayne, 1993. Twayne's English Authors Series 498. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12 July 2011.
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