Marriage In Pride And Prejudice English Literature Essay

The idea of marriages has changed throughout the centuries a lot, but it has always presented the current values which people from the particular society follow. Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice presents two very different concepts about marriage and the temptations which lead the characters to enter into a matrimony relationship. On one side, marriage is presented as a plan and an opportunity for achieving something barely related to love. The result of such marriage is a relationship of no love, respect, amity or even communication. On the other side marriage is presented as a culmination of ongoing observations and interaction between the two people. As overall the marriages in Pride and Prejudice aim to criticize the characters’ materialistic point of view and emphasize the significant and important feelings and emotions on which a successful and happy marriage is based on.

Society in Pride and Prejudice has developed a very simple and strategic dogma considering the marriage of a woman to a man. Some of the female characters in the book have considered marriage to be part of their plan to raise financially to a higher status in the society. In the society of Pride and Prejudice the words “possession” and “good fortune” present the true reasons why a man is “in want of a wife” (5). Matrimony is seen by most of the young female characters as a great opportunity for entering the high social strata as well as providing a good financial and secured future of their lives. The fact that this concept is “universally acknowledged” (5) tells the reader that the decisions of the majority of characters in the book are partially influenced by the social stereotypes. Any action which does not fit into these stereotypes is considered to be strange and unacceptable. Mrs. Bennet obdurately disapproves the refusal of Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins and tells to her daughter that she has “no pleasure in talking to undutiful children” (111). Mrs. Bennet does not realize that Elizabeth wants to find happiness in marriage rather than an alternative to her middle-class life. The understanding of Mrs. Bennet is similar to the understanding of Miss Charlotte Lucas who is entirely devoted to winning a man who will provide her a financial security. According to Elizabeth’s friend happiness can not be achieved in marriage and it is “entirely a matter of chance” (24) .Miss Lucas’ idea of marriage bows down the moral and spiritual values and importance of marriage by presenting the marriage not a as a culmination of love feelings and emotions, but as a strictly followed plan which has nothing to do with love. The marriage for Miss Lucas is also “the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune” (120). This shows that matrimony is an alternative to the inability of the woman to earn happiness using her freedom to choose. All characters from the book are free to choose, but few of them have the strength to use this freedom to oppose the social stereotypes. Thus very few of the characters reveal the real nature of the marriage, while the others create a new false appearance which gradually replaces its true values. According to the majority’s opinion in the book seeking for happiness is not the major leading force which makes people marry. It is rather security and a more opulent life that the ordinary woman from the book wants to find in matrimony.

The second type of matrimony relationships which is presented in the book is the marriage for the wrong reasons. An example for this relationship is the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. They have been married for a lot of years and they have five daughters. Their relationship is a result of a marriage which is based on something different from love. They rarely interact and the moments in which this happens are situations in which Mr. Bennet jokes with her “nerves” saying that they are his “old friends” (7). Making fun of Mrs. Bennet and dealing with her with levity seems the only possible enjoyment that the husband receives from his relationship with Mrs. Bennet. In the other cases he “shall be glad to have the library” to himself and finishes any argument with his wife (110). There is no love or respect even in the words which these people say to each other. It is obvious that Mrs. Bennet has also married Mr. Bennet because of material benefits and now she wants to get her daughters married to the richest men in the neighborhood. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet very clearly present the unfortunate future of a marriage “by plan” in which the two spouses have nothing to share except arguments and mockery.

The real values of matrimony can be found in the concept of Elizabeth and Darcy about marriage and their strong and progressing relationship. Elizabeth Bennet is one of the few characters in the book who oppose the wrong artificial social rules regarding marriage. She is a character who goes through a huge evolution. Her ideas and understanding change a lot throughout the book. Her character improves and she becomes able to stick out from the principles and demonstrates a strong volition and a unique interpretation of the people around her. An example for that is the way she treated with a lot of prejudices Mr. Darcy in the beginning of the book. After that, however, she learns a lot about herself and she realizes that she “had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd” (201). Elizabeth is a free-spirited person who is also not depended on social stereotypes. That is why she refuses to marry Mr. Collins after his proposal, even though that their future marriage would bring her a big financial stability and the respect and satisfaction of her mother. Elizabeth says that Mr. Collins is “a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man” (133). In this ways she really opposes to the common opinion of her family and especially of her mother who wants to make Elizabeth marry him. Elizabeth is one of the few characters who present the values and virtues of marriage and that love is the main driving force that brings two people to marriage. She reveals to the reader her feelings toward Mr. Darcy that progressively develop and make her admit “with tears in her eyes; “I love him” (356). Mr. Darcy also changes a lot regarding his treat toward love and Elizabeth. In the beginning of the book he says that Elizabeth is “tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt” him (13). He is too proud to admit that she is an object of his interest. But later in the book Mr. Darcy’s maladroit behavior changes because he realizes the love that he feels towards Elizabeth. Her agreement to marry him makes him feel happiness which “he had probably never felt before and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do” (346). Love makes Mr. Darcy gain a lot of self-knowledge about him as he understands that love and marriage can bring him happiness. He understands that hiding his real feelings behind the mask of pride causes him only pain. The changes in both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in addition to their strong feelings that burgeon between them reveal to the reader that the real values of marriage are the spiritual benefits.

In conclusion Jane Austen represents two different types of marriage in her book Pride and Prejudice. Marriage can be a result of strong feelings and attraction or ambitions for higher social status and financial security. These two concepts are however united by her aim to show to the reader the real dimensions of matrimony and to extol the real nonmaterial values that can make a person happy in marriage.

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