Pride and Prejudice - Attitudes in Marriage

Pride and Prejudice - Attitudes in Marriage

  • Submitted By: northerner
  • Date Submitted: 10/28/2008 8:47 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1564
  • Page: 7
  • Views: 6

Explore some of the different attitudes to marriage which are found in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (e.g. the attitudes of Elizabeth, Charlotte, Mrs Bennet etc), attempting to explain as well as describe what these attitudes are.

In her novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen immediately plunges us “into the world of marriage and manners”[1] from the famous opening sentence which declares that any young wealthy man ‘must be in want of a wife’ (Ch 1). At first this strikes us as preposterous but we soon learn that this is, in reality, the view of some. The ironic first sentence alone suggests that the sole purpose of marriage is to improve one’s financial and social ranking – at least in the eyes of characters like Mrs Bennet, whose attitude is ironically summed up in this line.

Mrs Bennet is obsessed with getting her five daughters married to ensure their—and her—financial security. When she is talking to Mr Bennet about Mr Bingley when he first moves to Netherfield, she is concerned with one thing only; ‘You must know I’m thinking of his marrying one of them’ (Ch 1). She is described as a ‘woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper’ (Ch 1). She is desperate for a man ‘with a large fortune’ (Ch 1) to choose one of her daughters to be his wife. Jane Austen consistently shows us Mrs Bennet’s character: fickle and changeable in everything save her regard for wealth. Ironically, it is the man she has most detested throughout the novel, ‘I hate the very sight of him’ (Ch 53), whom she reverences most when she realises that he is engaged to her daughter, declaring him to be ‘a charming man! – so handsome! so tall!’ (Ch 59). Mrs Bennet’s thoughts immediately jump to money and possessions when she exclaims ‘how rich and how great you will be…what pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have’ and she goes on to mention Mr Darcy’s ‘Ten-thousand a year’ (Ch 59). Mrs Bennet appears utterly superficial and materialistic; however, her attitude...

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