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There are lots of aspects of marriages in Jane Austen’s novel Pride
and Prejudice. There are marriages of love, convenience, physical
attraction and mercenary. The marriage between Mr. Wickham and Lydia
is partly due to physical attraction and mercenary. The marriage
between Elizabeth ad Mr. Darcy and Jane and Mr. Bingley are due to
love. The marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas is base on
convenience. The Marriage between Mr and Mrs Bennet is also due to
The novel was set in 1796 and was published in 1813. The England
during this period of time was far more class conscious. The main
characters in this novel come from a class called gentry; this is the
class above the emerging professional class and below aristocracy.
Class was more to do with breeding than with wealth. Rules were set
for everything, rules for dressing, rules for travelling, rules or
introducing yourself to others and rules for behaving. In this period
of time women were not allowed to work. However they could become
governesses. They could not inherit wealth from their father, and the
Bennet sisters were no exception therefore Mr. Collins was their heir
to Mr. Bennet’s property.
The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet was based on physical
attraction. You can see that they do not understand each other. There
is a contrast between both of their character. Mr.Bennet is
intellectual and likes to spend time reading in the library while Mrs.
Bennet is loud, hasty and likes to spend her time gossiping and trying
to finding husbands for her daughters. Mr. Bennet enjoys mocking his
“… I have respect for your nerves they are my old friends…”. Mr. and
Mrs Bennet also have different opinions and ideas of their daughter’s
future “… Your mother will never see your face if you do not marry Mr.
Collins, and I will never see you again if you do…”. You can tell that
this is a marriage based on physical attraction because Mr. Bennet
advises his daughter not to make the same mistake that he did my
marring Mrs. Bennet “…I know that you could be neither happy nor
respectable to your husband, unless you truly esteemed your husband….
My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect
you partner in life…” he is in a way hinting that he cannot respect
his wife. Mrs. Bennet is unaware of this as she dose not know her
husband very well. Mrs. Bennet’s character is very similar to the
character of Lydia. Both like officers and both act loud and hastily.
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The marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas’s is based on
convenience. Mr. Collins’s character is very arrogant and pompous. He
is obsessed with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He never tires of praising
her. Charlotte Lucas’s character is very plain. Lady Catherine de
Bourgh is one of the reasons of this marriage. Lady Catherine de Bourg
had advised him to get married “…She had even condescended to advise
him to marry as soon as he could…”. Mr.Collins has initially intended
to marry one of his cousins however he was refused and married
Charlotte instead. The reason why Charlotte married him was for
convenience “… I am not an romantic you know. I never was. I ask only
a comfortable home and considering Mr. Collin’s situation in life I am
convinced my chance of happiness with him is as most people…”. However
you can sense the hostility between them. Charlotte is sometimes
embarrassed by Mr. Collins “... Once or twice she could disconcert a
faint blush…”. You can see that the marriage is not due to attraction
as Charlotte encourages Mr. Collins to work in the garden in the hope
that he would lose weight and stay away from her.
The relationship between Lydia and Mr. Wickham is partly based on
physical attraction and partly mercenary. Mr.Wickham’s character is
very manipulative and scheming. Lydia’s character is very loud, silly
and childish. Mr. Wickham’s aim is to gain money. He had planned to
run away with Miss. Darcy in order to get her money.
The only reason why he agreed to marry Lydia was because Mr. Darcy
agreed to pay off all his debts and pay him thousands of pounds. You
could see that Mr. Wickham has no feelings for Lydia “… Mr. Wickham’s
affection for Lydia was just what Elizabeth had expected to find; not
equal to Lydia’s for him…”. You could see that they were not very
compatible. Lydia married Wickham because she was attracted to him.
She wanted to marry an officer and to be the first one married out of
her sisters “… Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower,
because I am the married one …” . She is also trying to imply to her
sisters that her status in the family is higher as she is the first
one to be married “…Is he not a charming man? I am sure my sisters
must all envy me…”.
The marriage between Jane and Mr. Bingley was based on Love.
Mr.Bingley’s character was friendly and gentleman-like. Jane’s
character was also very friendly and forgiving. Both of them were very
similar and very compatible. From the beginning of the novel you can
see the attraction and bond between them. Jane describes Mr. Bingley“…
as what an young man ought to be, good humoured, lively; and I never
saw such happy manners…”. There was an instant connection as in the
ball Mr. Bingley danced with her twice and described her as “the most
beautiful creature I ever beheld…”. You could see that they cared for
each other, when Jane was ill Mr. Bringly repeatedly checked how she
was and tried to make her feel better.
The marriage between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy also is based on love.
Elizabeth’s character is very intellectual, she has a bit of pride and
she is very witty “… he is a gentleman and I am an gentleman’s
daughter…”. Mr.Darcy’s character is very reserved, he does not like
to socialise with people and also had a strong sense of pride. At
first Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy did not like each other. Elizabeth
thought of Mr. Darcy as rude and arrogant and Mr.Darcy thought of her
as “tolerable” .However you could soon start to see Mr.Darcy slowly
start to fall in love with Elizabeth “he began to find it was rendered
uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expressions of her dark
eyes…”. Mr. Darcy also defended her from the abuse of Miss. Bingley
and Mrs.Hurst when Elizabeth walked through the mud to see Jane.
Mr.Darcy is prepared to give up is status and his reputation to marry
Elizabeth. Elizabeth has far less connections and has an uncle living
in Cheapside (London) who works for a living.
He is prepared to put all of his reputation at risk for his love.
Elizabeth’s attitude towards Mr.Darcy also starts to change when she
finds out about the truth of Mr.Wickham “ She grew absolutely ashamed
of herself- of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without
feeling that she had been blind, partial prejudice absurd…”.She also
starts to admire him when she finds out more about his personal life
and she starts to find out about the other side to him “…he is
certainly a good brother, whatever gives his sister any pleasure is
sure to be done in a second…”. She starts to see Mr.Darcy’s love when
he tracks down Lydia and Wickham and makes him marry her “… her heart
did whisper that he had done it for her…”. You can see that this is a
marriage of love as both really care about each other.
There were many marriages in this novel. There are marriages of love,
convenience, physical attraction and mercenary. The marriage of
Elizabeth and Darcy and Jane and Bingley was a balance between the
head and the heart while the marriage between Charlotte and Mr.
Collins was not love. The marriage between Mr. and Mrs Bennet was
neither, the marriage between Mr.Wickham and Lydia was partly head and
Jane Austen’s view on marriage was very simple; the key to a
successful marriage was a right balance of the head and the heart.
However Jane Austen or her sisters never got married themselves.
I personally think that Jane and Bingley’s marriage and Elizabeth and
Darcy’s marriage is most likely to be successful as both of the people
in this marriage understand and love each other. I agree with Jane
Austen’s view on marriage. She put her point across to the reader by
showing that first impressions are not always true. People who believe
in love tend to believe in love at first sight however in this novel
the main character, Elizabeth judges some people wrong and some right
e.g. she thought Mr. Wickham was the victim. This shows that there is
something more than love that makes a relationship successful.