Pride and Predjudice - Money and Marriage

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The novel Pride and Predjudice is based on money and marriage.

Discuss.

The novel reflects society at the time in which it was written, womens

powerlessness in a patriarichal society. Men dominated all walks of

life and expected women to attend their every need. In order to secure

a "safe future" for themselves women expended a lot of time and energy

learning skills with which to attract a man of substance. Indeed

Darcys view was

'A woman must have a thourough knowledge of music, singing, drawing,

dancing and the modern languages' an extremely tall order for any one.

The major themes of money and marriage are indeed married together in

the opening lines of this novel

'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in

possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife'.

During this period of time moral themes such as love and respect did

not play a pivotal role in marriage. Charlotte Lucas remarks,

'if the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to

eachother it does not advance their felicity in the least and it is

better to know as little as possible about the defects of the person

with whom you are to pass your life'. In this day a nd age a very

strange notion indeed.

Charlotte Lucas did not believe that she deserved to be happy in a

marriage. When she married Mr. Collins they were strangers and

remained so.

Marriage in the early nineteenth century was an economic contract and

in the case of the Bennet girls a means of financial security and

social acceptability. Therefore Mrs. Bennets life revolved around her

daughters security,

'The business of her life was to get her daughters married'

and,

'A single man of large fortune what a fine thing for our girls'.

Mrs. Bennets own marriage was not a happy one. Mr Bennet found retreat

in his library. When he first married he was 'captivated by youth and

beauty and that appearance of good humour had married a woman whose

weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their

marriage put an end to real affection.. all his views of domestic

happiness were overthrown..'

A womans entire social,emotional and economic future depended entirely

on how wealthy her husband would be. So time spent in pursuit of a

wealthy mate was a matter of survival in the upper class. If you

happened to like or love that mate it was a highly beneficial bonus.

'Happiness in a marriage is entirely a matter of chance'.

It is sad that three of the marriages in the novel ended up as unhappy

unions. The Bennets marriage was based on physical attraction.

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