Pride And Prejudice Essay, Research Paper
Function of Male/Female Relationships throughout Novel
Marriage is arguably the undertone of Jane Austen+s novel, Pride and Prejudice. Marriage was a ladder in which one would hope to climb into a higher social rank. Even those who are comfortable with their current status, it is imperative that they only marry someone of at least equivalent rank. This idea possessed many characters in the story modifies the motivation of marriage during this time. In the novel, the conflict between reason and emotion is conveyed through the marriage of several characters. In the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, it is quite clear that the two have never experienced much love and was united for financial benefit and out of infatuation. Similarly the marriage between Charlotte and Mr. Collins is done out of convenience and also lacks passion. However the marriage of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is a perfect example of matrimony of companionship and love. Austen uses these marriages to show the growing change in male/female relationships in this era.
The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet demonstrates the struggle amid reason and emotion. Mrs. Bennet+s motivation in marrying Mr. Bennet is that he will be able to provide her with his wealth, the norm for many women of the time. While Mrs. Bennet married for money, it is evident that beauty and youth captivated Mr. Bennet+s choice. Such a sharp-witted man would not marry such an absurd woman for any reason other than a temporary crush. It is obvious to the reader that the couple has lost that initial attraction. Perhaps the finest example of the lack of passion in the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is when Elizabeth tells her father of her plans to marry Mr. Darcy, who as far as Mr. Bennet knows, Elizabeth detests. Mr. Bennet begs his daughter not to marry
merely for worldly consideration but to unite with someone whom she admires. “My child “, he explains, “let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner on life” (Austen 242). In essence, Mr. Bennet pleads that his daughter does not make the same mistake that he has made. Jane Austen specifically illustrates the annoyance between this couple to exemplify the old fashion, male/ female relationships. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet didn+t marry for companionship and will never be ultimately happy.
The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet parallels the marriage of another couple, Charlotte and Mr. Collins. The two relationships are quite similar in that each other+s spouses possess minimal feelings for on another. Charlotte and Mr. Collins+ marriage was one of convenience. After receiving a denial from Elizabeth, Collins was desperate for a wife. Charlotte accepts Mr. Collins+ proposal since “it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune” (Austen 82). Her reason behind this choice for a life partner was purely based on money and nothing to do with her feelings towards her husband. As Charlotte once said to Elizabeth “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance” (Austen 16). Thus, it is clear that like Mrs. Bennet, the logic behind her marriage is purely based on maintaining a high social status at almost any cost. Charlotte is constrained by the fact that all she desires is wealth and stability, achievable only through marriage. Love is not a necessity in her relationships, convincing herself that love between Mr. Collins and she will blossom in time. As a result of this loveless relationship, the two hardly speak to each other and purposely try to avoid each other.
Unlike the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and Mr. and Mrs. Collins, the matrimony of Elizabeth and Darcy is based on entirely different reasons. It exemplifies a marriage where there is a perfect balance between reason and emotion. Both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy admire each other+s mind and not just one another+s physical beauty or financial soundness. This is evident when Elizabeth rejects Mr. Darcy+s first proposal because at the time she is repulsed at “your conceit and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others” (Austen 126). Such an event proves that Elizabeth must have highly regarded Mr. Darcy since she refused to marry him despite his attractive appearance and profound wealth. Moreover, Mr. Darcy definitely holds Elizabeth in the highest of regards since almost no one is to his pleasing. More unbelievable is Elizabeth+s changing reaction to Darcy. Once annoyed by his presence, hurt by his rejections, she too finds herself becoming more attracted to Mr. Darcy. While her realization takes much longer than that of Mr. Darcy, it happens just the same. Darcy openly proclaims to Elizabeth “how ardently I admire and love you” (Austen 123). Not only is it certain that Elizabeth and Darcy respect each other, but it is also clear that they truly love each other as well. Darcy demonstrates his love for Elizabeth by overlooking her family+s shortcomings. Furthermore, when shocking news of Lydia+s elopement is discovered, Darcy aides Elizabeth+s family by making sure the marriage takes place so that no further shame is brought to the family. This courageous act on Mr. Darcy+s part proves how much affection he has for Elizabeth since he is willing to provide assistance for a family who is not only of a lower social class, but more importantly he assists a man whom he despises. The marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy is clearly the ideal male/ female relationship for Jane Austen. The union of these two people exemplifies how Austen was in favor of marrying for love regardless of wealth and outward compatibility.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in of a wife” (Austen 3). This clearly shows the connection between money and marriage that Austen portrays throughout her novel, Pride and Prejudice. The marriage between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is definitely the idea marriage. Austen illustrates the importance of love and respect in marriage by showing such marriages as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet+s and Mr. and Mrs. Collins+. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet can never seem to agree on any subject matter, while Mr. and Mrs. Collins make an effort to avoid each other. The unity of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as well as Mr. and Mrs. Collins demonstrate the lack of rationalism and sentiment within these marriages. On the contrary, Elizabeth and Darcy+s marriage is a perfect example of matrimony where reason and emotion are at equilibrium. Through these relationships, Jane Austen shows how the only acceptable marriage is one where there is a balance between respect and love.