The Different Types of Marriages Presented in Pride and Prejudice

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Discuss the different types of marriages presented in Pride and Prejudice and what this tells you about the different attitudes to marriage in the early nineteenth century. Austen opens this book with a cynical commentary on the Eighteenth Century conception of the value of love - 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gentleman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'! Throughout the book, there are many insights into different beliefs on why to marry. Marrying for money was very popular, followed by lust, calculated marriages and arranged marriages. Something not as often thought about were love marriages. “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance”. This was mainly because parents either rushed their children into marriage, or convinced them that love marriages don’t always bring money. Also, Fathers such as Mr Bennet who talks of his daughters as being “four of the silliest girls in the country” gives the impression that parents want to give their daughters away to the richest people that come their way. Jobs for young women were scarce in Jane Austen’s time because of a lack of education available to them. This was because university places were not open to women, nor were professions or politics. This made a successful career highly unlikely. One way for a young woman to acquire wealth and status was to marry someone rich. Inheriting money was another option however it was made difficult as the eldest son of the family usually got most of the inheritance. Women tended not to live alone. A young, never-married female with money was not allowed to set herself up as head of the household she had to hire an older lady “companion”. Even Queen Victoria had to hav... ... middle of paper ... ...scoundrel”. The marriage would not last, as Wickham had to be paid off to marry Lydia. Mr Gardener and Darcy paid off Wickham, a considerable amount, to bring Lydia some happiness but also to lift the shame of Lydia’s elopement. This book is a parody of the battle between the lower gentry of merry England and the slightly higher class as they each search for love, but each is hindered by pre-conceived Prides' and 'prejudices' of other social classes. The main protagonist, Lizzie Bennett, manages to overcome her mother's objections to the pomposity and design of her long-time adversary, Mr Darcy, and find true love. The book is full of minor characters that all marry for the wrong reasons. Charlotte for status; Lydia for sex and Mrs Hirst for money. But the Bennett sisters are manipulated by Austen to marry for the only thing worth marrying for ... love.
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