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Pride and Prejudice: The Cost of Marriage

Uploaded by McCarthy on Feb 18, 2002

19th century England had serious social problems from the heyday of Royalty and Nobility. One of the most significant of these was the tendency to marry for money. A person sought a partner based on the dowry receivable and their allowance. This process went both ways: a beautiful woman might be able to snag a rich husband, or a charring and handsome man could woo a rich young girl. In these marriages, money was the only consideration. Love was left out, with the thought that it would develop as the years went by. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen comments that marriage in her time is a financial contract, where love is strictly a matter of chance. This is clearly evident from the very first line of the novel: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (Austen, 1).

Lady Catherine states the fact that happiness in marriage is strictly a matter of chance. This holds true in the conception of marriage held in the novel. All of the marriages in the book formed under the bonds of money, rather than the bonds of love, end up unhappy or unsuccessful. The whole novel outlines attempts to dance around love for the combination of a wealth and attractiveness. It is thought that in, “the world of this novel, marriage is a market, and the young women are its merchandise,” (Money & Marriage).

The first line of the novel is interpreted to mean that a wealthy man either actively pursues a wife based on his knowledge that no one would turn down a wealthy suitor, or attractive women use their beauty to their benefit to attract a wealthy husband. Confident in his knowledge of his own wealth and magnificence, Darcy's less than romantic first proposal to Elizabeth is a good example of the first of these truths. Darcy marches into the room, and after stating all the reasons why a wealthy man such as himself should never marry a “socially inferior” person such as Elizabeth, he proposes to her. He is totally confident in the knowledge that no woman would turn down marriage to a person as rich as himself, no matter how obnoxious he is. Darcy is shocked when Elizabeth refuses him. This refusal shatters...

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Uploaded by:   McCarthy

Date:   02/18/2002

Category:   Pride and Prejudice

Length:   5 pages (1,060 words)

Views:   3935

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