Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice

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English 283 1 March 2012 Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a nineteenth century novel revolving around the life and romantic affairs of the Bennett sisters and their family in the English countryside. Seen as a lady-like romance novel, Pride and Prejudice seems like a light read, but in reality Jane Austen uses her novel to make scathing commentary about nineteenth century society in England. Pride and Prejudice contrast the marriages of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas to show how nineteenth century English society’s view of a perfect marriage was often based solely on class, and often disregarded any connection a pair…show more content…
In contrast to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett’s relationship is the marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas. The pair is from the same social class and are seen as a very suitable match. Mr. Collin’s very much fulfills the image of “a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen 5) that is presented in the beginning of the novel. He has no emotional connection to Charlotte, he is just in want of a wife. As Mr. Collins proposed to Lizzy, he dryly listed out his reasons for marriage “first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish. Secondly, that I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly-which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness” (Austen 103). Love or compatibility do not play even a small role in Mr. Collin’s idea of marriage, marriage for him is all for the benefit of appealing to nineteenth century society’s standards of a single man. Charlotte’s emotions, on the other hand, are described eloquently by Jane who states “Consider Mr. Collins’s respectability, and Charlotte’s prudent, steady character. Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune, it is a most eligible match; and be ready
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