P&P Essay

834 WordsDec 17, 20124 Pages
Throughout Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, marital status plays a significant role. In early 19th century England, women must achieve a marital engagement before they reach an ineligible age. Women married early, rather than at a later age: an old English custom. In this era, women constantly relied on the men in their life; they depended on their father when young, on their brother(s) if their father died, and on their husbands once married. Once a woman is around 30 years old, her status becomes one of an “old maid.” Charlotte Lucas is 27 years old and running out of time to find a suitor. Charlotte’s acceptance of Mr. Collins’ proposal only a few days after Elizabeth’s refusal to him reflects Charlotte’s eagerness to be a wife and further indicates the two women’s moral differences. Charlotte does not hesitate to accept Collins’ marriage proposal due to her old age and low self-esteem. She even admits to Elizabeth how she feels about herself: “I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’ character, connections and situation in life, I am convinced that my happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state” (Austen 89). Charlotte confides in Elizabeth that she doesn’t expect much in her marriage, except to shed her status as an old maid and begin her new life known as a wife. Charlotte’s admittance of her expectations fully explains how marriages functioned in the early 1800s. She only asks for a comfortable situation with a well-regarded man who is successful, wealthy, and has connections in the upper class. She honestly reveals her simplistic and dismal view of marriage to Elizabeth: “If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow

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