What is proper love? Is it intelligent love, and does Austen understand love "in the fullest sense," as Lionel Trilling suggests? If so, do her protagonists naturally have the ability to love intelligently, or do they develop it?
• What qualities and behavior lead to a happy marriage
Marriage, or rather the warning not to rush into marriage, is an overarching theme of many of Jane Austen's novels. Her last published novel, Persuasion, is no exception. Like in many of her works, Austen is speaking to an audience of Regency women who were looking to find a husband as soon as possible for one reason or another. While her point may have been valid, there were few alternatives for women of this time, given the lack of educational or career opportunities. Marriage in Regency England was used as a vehicle for many things, and while the novel highlights both disastrous and successful unions, it provides a very honest look at the purpose of marriage during this time. According to Austen’s Persuasion, Regency era marriages were mainly formed to improve one’s social status and attain either economic or familial security, and, because of these motives, prudency in marriage was highly valued.
Regency Marriage as a Means of Social Mobility
A line can be traced throughout history to affirm that one motive for marriage, in many cultures, has always been for social mobility. Regency England was no different, and heavy emphasis was placed one one’s social class when discussing a potential marriage. This intention is best exemplified in Persuasion through Mary Musgrove and her constant attempts to assert herself as superior because she is married. She is visibly upset when her in-laws, the Musgroves do not come and visit Anne immediately upon her arrival, as they should out of respect for Mary, as Charles' wife. After all, she and her husband will one day inherit the big house.
Later in the story, one of the Musgrove sisters appeals to Anne to convince her sister to...