Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

  • Submitted By: blaine
  • Date Submitted: 05/24/2008 2:29 PM
  • Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 624
  • Page: 3
  • Views: 6

How does Jane Austen use marriage in Pride and Prejudice to present the nature of an ideal relationship? With a social and cultural context where marriage was assumed to be of great importance, Jane Austen uses a number of marriages to expose and satirise societal values of the age, and to explore the nature of the ideal marriage. Austen portrays a true and ideal marriage to be one where economic and social compatibility is encompassed with love and the union of minds. In the novel, all marriages, except Elizabeth and Darcy?s, appear to be deficient in the values necessary for an ideal marriage.

The marriage of the Bennets is an imprudent one, a union of a reasonably intelligent man with an inane wife. The suggestion that the initial attraction was purely physical elucidates that the relationship is based on superficial grounds. Mr. Bennet?s lack of satisfaction in his marriage leads him to shut himself from reality, failing to procure the masculine control that Austen regards as central in a successful relationship. Austen thus portrays marriage as a patriarchal institution, elucidating a perfect marriage to be one where the male takes control and the female allows for the ?meeting of minds?. Like the Bennets, the marriage between Lydia and Wickham is also flawed. Their relationship is one where physical desire outweighs reason, decency and good sense, with ?their passions stronger than their virtue.? Lydia?s infatuation with the ?uniform? and desire for social standing, and Wickham?s desire for financial inducements leads them to marry for entirely wrong reasons. By stepping outside the social norms of her society, Lydia makes herself vulnerable to ostracism, and by breaking the rules of society (that Austen herself supports), their marriage is doomed to fail.

In the novel, Charlotte Lucas presents a pragmatic view on marriage, declaring that ?happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance?. Her marriage to Mr. Collins...

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