The Trouble With Marriage Essay Research Paper

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




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