Jane Austen's Attitudes to Marriage in Persuasion

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Jane Austen's Attitudes to Marriage in Persuasion

In Persuasion, marriage is one of the major themes of the novel, and

Austen's attitudes towards marriage are present in chapter four of the

novel. The first episode in which we can examine Austen's attitudes to

marriage is in chapter four. In chapter four we must notice that there

is no direct speech, which shows that all of the narration is Austen,

with her views and opinions being presented to us. When talking of Mr.

Wentworth, Austen says ' He was a remarkably fine young man, with a

great deal of intelligence, spirit and brilliancy' and of Anne 'an

extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste and feeling.'

In a novel so concerned with wealth and status we must notice that

Austen makes no comment concerning the wealth of either. Austen says

of Anne and Wentworth that 'they were gradually acquainted, and when

acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love.' It would seem that Austen is

implying that in English society you must either gain wealth or love

from a marriage, as very rarely were both love and wealth gained.

Another theme of the novel which seems to accompany the theme of

marriage is that of the private and the public. Austen says of Anne

and Captain Wentworth's togetherness 'A short period of exquisite

felicity followed, and but a short one. Troubles soon arose. Sir

Walter on being applied to thought it a very degrading alliance.'

Austen here presents to us that when the public discover the news the

relationship turns sour. Sir Walter by calling Anne and Wentworth's

relationship an 'alliance' shows that he believes it should be no more

than a business relationship. Austen's tone of 'He thought it a very

degrading alliance' scorns this op...

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... titles are measured and weighed in the consideration of

marriage. In finality, Austen uses marriage in the novel as a social

yardstick to measure and compare the characters in the novel. Austen?s

tone is condemning when talking of marriages based on money, which on

one hand shows her recognition of romance and sentimentalism but on

the other can be seen as her bitterness for never finding love and

marrying. For a novelist so concerned with the theme of marriage, it

would seem that Austen believes in love with marriage being the just

way to display affection. Austen?s condemning tone towards marriages

based on class and wealth could be Austen recognising that marriage is

not the only important thing in life. Austen would have had time to

contemplate this, being so close to the end of her own life and

realising that her life was complete without marrying.
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