Explore Jane Austen’s attitude to marriage in Pride and Prejudice

1671 Words 7 Pages
Explore Jane Austen’s attitude to marriage in Pride and Prejudice

Looking at the social, historical and cultural context

In the 19th century when Austen wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the way
in which marriage was viewed was very different. It would have been
expected of a young woman to find a ‘suitable’ partner for marriage
before they were thirty, as after this they could be seen as an
embarrassment to their family. By suitable, it does not mean in the
way in which marriage is viewed today. Today marriage is seen as an
expression of deep love and respect for another person. In Austen’s
time, a ‘good’ marriage was seen to be one where wealth and social
status of the man and woman were socially suitable. There was very
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Each couple display
compatibility, understanding as well as similarity in their

Many characters at different points in the novel remark on Jane and
Bingley, and how well suited they are. Elizabeth comments that Bingley
is a, ‘sweet-tempered, amiable, charming man.’ She realises that Jane
and Bingley are becoming infatuated with one another. ‘The train of
agreeable reflections, which her observations gave birth to, made her
perhaps almost as happy as Jane.’ This reflects on their

The other ‘ideal state’ of marriage, which is maybe more so than Jane
and Bingley, is seen in Darcy and Elizabeth. Their compatibility is
blinded to each of them because of Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s
prejudice. As the book progresses, both characters manage to overcome
these character flaws and various other obstacles and eventually
realise their love for one another as their compatibility and
understanding is increasingly revealed to the reader, ‘It was a union
that must have been to the advantage of both.’ Darcy and Elizabeth’s
similarities lie in their levels of intelligence, dedication to
friends and their stance on expressing their opinions openly.
Regardless of what anybody said about their relationship,
including Mrs. Bennet and the superior Lady Catherine, they
ignored these various warnings. Lady Catherine mainly commented on
Elizabeth’s social inferiority to hers and her nephews.…