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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