Jane Austen's View of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice Essays

1911 Words 8 Pages
Jane Austen's View of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want if a wife"

This comment is humorous and satirical, but holds an underlying truth. The fact that Jane Austen opens the novel with such a comment on marriage evidences the importance of the theme in the book. Indeed the novel is all about marriage in society. Austen lived in a time when marriage was the only way out for some women, or they would be forced to become a governess and lose their independence. The way that this opening sentence is out provides another theme, satire. Austen sees the following marriages that she writes on as amusing but they are still frowned
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The fact that Mr Bennet knows that his marriage is unsuccessful is important. We know that he is conscious of it, as he warns Elizabeth against an unequal marriage,

"My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life"

This shows us that Mr Bennet knows he made a mistake marrying the prettiest girl all those years ago, and he wants to make sure that his favourite daughter doesn't make the same mistake.

The marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins is one that Austen sees as an average one. It is similar to some of those at the time. It is most certainly a marriage of convenience. Charlotte is very cynical about marriage and love. She believes that "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance" Jane Austen criticises Charlotte's lack of romance and idealism, through Elizabeth but underlying that we know she understands her motives for marriage. Charlotte also says that a woman must let a man know that she's interested to make sure she snags him. She advises Elizabeth that Jane does this to ensure a marriage to Bingley. Charlotte is obviously not speaking from experience, because at 27 year old, she is practically an old maid and on the shelf. Nobody wants her, and soon she will be forced to become a governess if she can't find a husband soon.

After Collins proposes to Elizabeth, Charlotte, knowing she needs a husband, jumps straight in with her tactics. She doesn't however tread…