In the following essay I am going to closely examine the proposals of
marriage Elizabeth by her cousin Mr Collins, and aristocrat Mr Darcy.
I am also going to compare and contrast the events of each proposal.
In Jane Austen’s lifetime a women’s status in society came firstly
from her parents and secondly when she married. Jane Austen shows the
marked differences in class frequently, as this was a major feature of
everyday life in the 19th century. Men were seen as being far superior
to women as they were able to work and thus earn a small, and in rare
cases a large fortune. Pride and Prejudice in some ways mirrors Jane
Austen’s own life, as her heart was broken at a tender age. Jane
Austen gave her undying love to her hero Tom Lefroy, however the match
proved incompatible as neither Jane or Tom had a sufficient income to
allow them to live as man and wife. At only twenty Jane Austen’s real
love had come and gone and she never went on to love anyone else.
Pride and Prejudice portrays the struggle for women to find compatible
men, that not only satisfied their own need for love and adoration,
but also suitors that meet their families’ best interests.
In chapter nineteen it becomes clear to the reader that Mr Collins is
interested in Mrs Bennet’s daughters. He firstly questions the
availability of Jane but is told that she is soon to be engaged to Mr
Bingley. After this set back Mr Collins inquires about Elizabeth (the
second eldest daughter of Mrs Bennet.) “ May I hope madam, for your
interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the
honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning.”
Elizabeth tried to inte...
... middle of paper ...
within a family could have serious consequences on daughters and their
eligibility for marriage. Many would remain spinsters or they would
marry outside their usual social circle. It was not unusual for
couples to become engaged in their late teens (with the life
expectancy at this time of approximately forty years it is perhaps not
surprising that couples married young). Today many couples are
marrying in their thirties and marriage is not as fashionable or
socially vital. In the Bennets’ case as there was no son and heir
there was the law of entailment whereby property was left to a male
relative. Therefore there was a real pressure for a daughter to marry
the inheritor so that property and wealth could remain within the
family. Of course laws like this do not generally exist today, and
marriages are a union of love rather than a business proposition.
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