Elizabeth Bennet’s Exceptional Nature

805 Words4 Pages
Abstract Elizabeth Bennet is certainly an exceptional woman. She conforms to society’s expectations in many ways while stretching the boundaries in others. Beyond her observable intelligence, she creates a line between her mother and Lydia’s views on relationships and marriage. Elizabeth combines the utility and security of marriage with romantic love and mental compatibility. Body It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife (Austin, 1813). This line defines the importance of marriage in Austen’s time, and is a primary plot element and social underpinning for the characters within the novel (Peterson, 1982). While the focus of the phrase is "a single man must be in want of a wife," irony reveals the true nature of marriage as a woman’s need for a man of means to secure her financial future. The interpretation of the opening statement and views on marriage are key differences in viewpoints of Elizabeth, her mother and Lydia. In Austen’s time, societal constraints left women with little choice but to marry for economic survival (Multiple, 1966). This is exemplified by the Bennet family, a well-to-do lower-middleclass land-owning family with no male heir. Because of this the Mr. Bennet’s property is entailed to pass ownership to a distant male relative (William Collins) (University of South Africa, Department of English, 2012). The purpose behind one of the Bennet girls marrying Collins is to create financial certainty for Mrs. Bennet and her other daughters. Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s mother, is constantly agitated and obsessed with securing her future. Her life’s work is to marry her daughters to men of means such that she (Mrs. Bennet) will be taken care of when Mr. Bennet dies. Mrs. Bennet will not rest until she has achieved her goal. She is driven. She is single
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