The Trouble With Marriage Essay, Research Paper
In Jane Austen s Pride and Prejudice the most important topic
to theme and character development throughout the novel is that of
courtship and marriage. From the very first chapter; the very first
line, in fact, you see that this is a novel about the surmounting
obstacles of courtship and the levels of difficulty in achieving
romantic happiness, for it is well-stated that it is a truth universally
acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune
must be in want of a good wife. (1) As one of the most famous lines
in literature it immediately establishes the centrality of marriage to
the novel . This is done first by introducing Mr. Bingley, an event that
sets the novel in motion; second, by its implication that the real truth
is the opposite…that a single woman is in want of a wealthy
husband. Marriage in Pride and Prejudice is a means of survival in an
economy-based environment. It is the playing card by which all
single women hope to score big and settle down with their winnings.
The Bennett s are a perfect example of the institute of
marriage that is exemplified in most every case of Pride and
Prejudice. They married for the most noble of reasons in their time.
Mrs. Bennett whose only purpose in life seems to be to find
husbands for her daughters, and Mr. Bennett whose marriage to her
is explained as him having been, captivated by youth and beauty,
and that appearance of good humor which youth and beauty
generally give resulting in his marriage to a woman whose weak
understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put
an end to all real affection for her (176).It can be best stated that the
two of them merged for security and social climbing in the same
way AOL and Time Warner have merged as corporations to improve
their own individual worth. They are each others social game pieces
with which they manipulate society. Mr. Bennett has a wife and
family which gives him an appearance of stability and Mrs. Bennett
has a husband to help her in her endeavors to marry off her
daughters to prosperous men.
Mr. Collins appearance in the book and his eventual marriage
to Charlotte Lucas is the quintessential marriage of material benefits.
Charlotte Lucas is not in love with Mr. Collins and his disregard for
that fact shows he is not striving for perfection in marriage either.
They are wed merely because they had no other opportunities and it
is socially unacceptable to remain unwed and remain in high society.
Charlotte s ability to settle is not unique, but is very clearly explained
through her own dialogue. I am not romantic, you know. I never
was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins s
character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my
chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on
entering the marriage state. (95) Her attitude is optimistic but in no
time at all it is evident at least to Elizabeth that Charlotte s situation
at Rosings is dismal but only what was expected from such a
The two characters that inspire hope even in satire are
Elizabeth and Jane. They are the romantics that search for more in
marriage than just a last name, comfort and a nice home to settle
into mediocrity in. Jane s virtue and idealism make her success in
marriage imminent, but Elizabeth s is only half eluded to in her close
relationship with her aunt and uncle who enjoy a genuinely happy
marriage and her likeness in conduct to her aunt. Elizabeth s
likelihood of marital success seems very realistic in comparison to
other marriages within Pride and Prejudice less Jane and Bingley s.
The only real indication that they may have settled is Elizabeth s
hesitance to refer to refer to Darcy as her love, or anything more than
the object of her choice.
The ideal marriage is that of Jane and Bingley. They are what
all others wish to attain. They are of similar character and play well
off of each others personalities. They are not settling for less that
love and they genuinely seem to enjoy each others company. Mr.
Bennett said it best in a congratulations of sorts. I have not a doubt
of your doing well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike.
You are each of you so complying that nothing will ever be resolved
on; so that every servant will cheat you; and so generous that you
will always exceed your income. Mr. Bennett sees in his daughter
and her new husband a potentially wonderful marriage and his idea
that this could mean financial downfall is humorous. He gives light
to the thought that you can only have financial or marital success,
and you must chose one and only one and enjoy it without the other.
This is a pessimistic and satirical opinion on British marriages in the
1800 s that finds its way through the entire novel.
In Pride and Prejudice you see the overdramatization of nineteenth
century British marriages. It is sad to think that so many women carried on
like this for so long, in search not of love, but of society and status. The
story leaves you feeling happiness for the marriage of Jane and Bingley
because they are truly meant to be together and sadness for most all the
other s because it is apparent that it is not impossible to achieve success in
marriage. It is just certain that you must be of high moral fiber and not
looking to settle on the first successful man to walk into your life without
care of how devout of compatibility for partnership in marriage he is. The
only marriage left unresolved as to whether is was a success or not is that
of Elizabeth and Darcy. There is question whether or not they take after
Elizabeth s aunt and uncle or her mother and father. They symbolize the
typical American marriage. It is far from settling but at the same time not
ideal and it is clear that they have less than the most pure of ambitions for