Marriage and Societal Values in Pride and Prejudice Essay

1279 WordsMar 12, 20146 Pages
Marriage and Societal Values in Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a paradigmatic example of the Romantic novel, in which she infuses social comedy with moral purpose. One way in which Austen's characters are made to seem wholly realistic is by their failings and imprudence. A predominant theme which is central to Pride and Prejudice is the ideals surrounding and the necessity of marriage in nineteenth century Britain. This essay will look at a passage to try to determine Austen's view on marriage and societal values. There are three particular attitudes towards marriage present; marriage predominantly for material wealth and societal position; marriage for aesthetic and passionate reason with no regard to wealth; and the ideal marriage which consists of true love, wealth, social status and personal merit. “Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony.” Jane Austen in a letter to Fanny Knight, (1817). In this letter Austen is reiterating the position women were in at a time when land ownership was patriarchal, and women were predominantly reliant on men for most things. Pride and Prejudice shows how important money, social class and behaviour were in determining many aspects of life, for example, who should be given respect, who has power and privilege and whom should marry who. It could be argued that Austen sees the concept of marriage as necessity rather than choice, which she examines and analyses through her characters and their respective partners. Each marriage in Pride and Prejudice has happened for different reasons, socio-economic stability, beauty, naivety to name a few. Can it be said then that marriage for one reason is better than another? Is marrying for money or social status wrong or immoral? Can a marriage only last if there is true love present? How
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