In Want of a Wife: Jane Austen’s Reaction to Marriage

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The romantic era in literature was characterized by many different authors, male and female. Jane Austen was only one of many authors in that era, and one of the longest lasting; through her many novels, she shows various views on love and marriage. In Jane Austen’s critically acclaimed novel, Pride and Prejudice, Austen spares no character, male or female, in her criticism of the understood custom that the only route to happiness was marriage.

Jane Austen never married which influenced her portrayal of marriage throughout many of her novels. Every character exposes different marital standards expected in the time period. In a biography about Jane Austen, edited by Jack Lynch, Rosemary Reisman explains that while neither Jane Austen nor her sister, Cassandra never married, both were engaged at one point. Jane’s engagement was not long lived, in fact it only lasted one night, and she rejected the suitor in the morning (8). Austen’s marital status and limited interaction outside her family led her to develop a keen sense of human interactions. Through her experiences “grieving and rejoicing with family members and friends, mothering nieces and nephews, worrying about the effects of her unstable times on those she loved” she is able to portray the time through her characters (9).

During the Romantic Era, very few occupations were open to women, as most were expected to run their husbands house. For the women who remained unmarried (whether by choice or by circumstance), their opportunities to earn money were very limited. One of the most common choices available for a young maid unmarried is to be a governess. Though this was never a first choice, it was one of the most readily available jobs for women and included a lack of re...

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...y fought against the odds for the most desired marriage, a marriage of happiness. Disregarding that Jane has now secured herself (and her future children) financially; she can happily fill the role of wife in want; because as everyone knows, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen 1).

Works Cited

Work Citied

Austen, Jane, and Robens Myretta. "Jane Austen -- Letters -- Brabourne Edition -- Letters to Cassandra, 1811." Jane Austen | The Republic of Pemberley. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. .

Austen, Jane, and Vivien Jones. Pride and prejudice. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Print.

Lynch, Jack. Jane Austen. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2010. Print.

Murstein, Bernard I.. Love, sex, and marriage through the ages. New York: Springer Pub. Co., 1974. Print.
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