Pride And Prejudice – Marriage Essay, Research Paper
Pride and Prejudice is not only a love
story of marriage among the rural
gentry in England at the start
of the 19th century
Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Hampshire. Her father was a vicar and she had six brothers and a sister. At the age of sixteen she started writing humorous novels. In 1813 she published Pride and Prejudice . She never got married and she died in 1817 at the age of forty-two. Jane Austen thought that the situation that should be written about is two or three families living together in a country village . She never wrote about environments she did not know about and only wrote about gentry like herself. That is why the characters in Pride and Prejudice are middle class people, like landowners, vicars, and officers. She does not mention servants much.
Marriage in Jane Austen s society marriage is the status all the women strive to achieve. Money and looks are essential for a good marriage, youthfulness also counts. If a woman never got married, because of lacking money or looks, she would go and live with a married sister or brother. If she did not have any brothers or sisters to live with, she would become a governess.
Pride and Prejudice s first sentence, It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, introduces the theme of marriage, and money, in an ironic way. Jane Austen starts off using intellectual sounding words to introduce the hunt for a rich husband. The sentence contains a mixture of comedy, humour and irony that will continue throughout the novel. In Pride and Prejudice we see two established marriages, the Bennets and the Gardiners. Throughout the novel four other marriages take place, Lydia with Wickham, Charlotte with Mr Collins, Elizabeth with Darcy, and Jane with Bingley.
Mr and Mrs Bennet have been married for twenty-three years, but they do not really communicate with each other. They have five unmarried daughters. Mr Bennet has a good sense of humour and likes to tease his wife. He pretends not to understand her. He makes outrageous statements that his wife believes. He does not demonstrate any affection towards his wife and is tired of the way she behaves. Mrs Bennet does not get upset when she is the object of her husband s sarcasm and is not intelligent enough to discriminate between important and trival information. When she is frustrated she complains about her nerves. Mrs Bennet does not understand Mr Bennet, and whilst Mrs Bennet s aim in life is to get her daughters married to rich men, Mr Bennet is not interested in family affairs and does not seem to think much of his daughters, or girls in general. They are all silly and ignorant like other girls. Jane Austen tells us his favourite daughter is Elizabeth. I must throw a good word for my Lizzy.
Mr Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice. Mrs Bennet is a woman of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper.
Their marriage was based on an initial physical attraction. Mr Bennet was captivated by youth and beauty and the appearance of good humour that goes with these. The initial physical attraction dies quickly and all Mr Bennet s views of domestic happiness were overthrown . He lost all respect for his wife. Furthermore, Mrs Bennet has low connections and little money. She was beneath him socially. Therefore they were not well matched in character or social background. He made the wrong choice. At the end of the novel he confidentially admits his mistake to Elizabeth.
Unlike the Bennets, the Gardiners are a sensible, lively and intelligent couple. They seem to love each other and work well together. Mr Gardiner is Mrs Bennet s brother. He is a tradesman. The couple live in Gracechurch, a street in the City of London. Elizabeth looks up to Mrs Gardiner, not to Mrs Bennet.
Mr Collins is a distant cousin to the Bennets and he is the one to inherit Longbourn after Mr Bennet s death. He is a clergyman who has recently been made vicar of a parish on the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in Kent. Charlotte is the eldest daughter of the Lucases. She is 27 years old and Elizabeth s best friend.
Mr Collins is introduced to Charlotte by the Bennets. They first talk at the Netherfield Ball. At that time Mr Collins was paying attention to Elizabeth. Charlotte helps her friend. She owed her greatest relief, Miss Lucas, who often joined them and good naturally engaged Mr Collins conversation to herself. The day Mr Collins proposes Charlotte is there. She overhears all the conversation and how Mr Collins withdraws his offer of marriage. She deliberately stays in the room and is pretending to look out of the window. The Bennets are invited to dine at the Lucases. Elizabeth is grateful to Charlotte for keeping Mr Collins company. Charlotte is really out to get Mr Collins, its object was nothing less, tan to secure her from any return of Mr Collins addresses, by engaging them towards herself . The next day Mr Collins goes to Lucas Lodge. Charlotte perceives him from an upper window and instantly sets out to meet him accidentally in the lane. Mr Collins proposes to Charlotte who immediately accepts.
Charlotte knew how to delight Mr Collins, and after engaging him to herself, accepts his offer of marriage. Charlotte does not like Mr Collins; ‘his society was irksome’. She also knows he does not love her, his attachment to her must be imaginary . Charlotte just accepts the value society places her on. But he offers her the opportunity of marriage. Without thinking highly of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object. At twenty-seven, with little money, no beauty and younger brothers and sisters sees marriage as her best chance of securing a reasonable standard of living. I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home.
After they are married Charlotte seems to be happy enough, she keeps a straight face and ignores her husband s silliness, in general Charlotte wisely did not hear . She tries to keep her husband out of the way, for example, by encouraging him to do the gardening, when Mr Collins was forgotten there was a great comfort throughout . But she is always loyal to him. She never says anything bad about her husband.
The marriage between Lydia and Wickham was the result of irresponsible behaviour. They met at a dance where the Malatia Regiment, to which Mr Wickham belongs, and the Bennets were invited. When Wickham is first introduced in the novel he pays attention to Elizabeth but he knows that Miss King had inherited a fortune draws his attention to her, and away from Elizabeth. When it is known that the regiment is moving to Brighton, Lydia and Kitty (as much as Mrs Bennet) want to go to Brighton with them but Mr Bennet won t allow it. Mrs Forester, Lydia s friend and the wife of the Colonel of the regiment, invites Lydia to accompany her to Brighton. Once there, Wickham invites Lydia to run away. Wickham did not mean to elope with Lydia, but he had to leave Brighton because he had many debts. He took advantage that Lydia wanted to go with him, and made believe he had run away to elope. Wickham finally married Lydia thanks to Darcy. He bribed Wickham and took care of all the financial arrangements.
Lydia is an irresponsible, immature girl, who likes to flirt about, and is insensitive to other people s feelings. She had high animal spirits , which the attentions of the officers , had increased into assurance . She is described as being a stout, well grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good humoured countenance . Wickham is an ambitious man. He loves money. He first had tried to elope with Darcy s sister, Georgina, who inherited 30000. Then he started paying much attention to Miss King, a young lady who had inherited a fortune.
Their marriage was not a happy settled one. They were always in debt, and Lydia often writes to her sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, asking them for money. They were always moving from house to house, and they stay for very long periods with the Bingley s, so much that even kind Mr Bingley thinks of telling them to move on.
Bingley s and Jane s marriage is based on love and rational respect. Jane is the handsomest of the Bennets daughters, which is why she is the daughter Mrs Bennet had the highest hopes for. She is humble and unassuming. She always sees good in other people. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life. In a partner, she looks for sensibility, good humour and liveliness. Bingley is rather impassive. He has a pleasant countenance and easy affected manner . He is easygoing and much influenced by his best friend, Mr Darcy. This shows when he proposes to Jane, he does this after Darcy gives his consent. They both are kind, nice, and optimistic people. They always see the bright side of things. Mr Bennet thinks the couple is so nice and easy going that people might take advantage of them. We later see that the Wickhams do take advantage. They spend long periods of time in their house and Lydia often writes to Jane asking for money.
They first meet at the Meryton Assembly. Mr Bingley is a young man of large fortune, from the north of England, who is going to rent Netherfield Park. He goes to the Merryton Assembly to meet the people of town. The Bennets attend. Mr Bingley shows a lively interest in Jane and dances with her twice. Jane also likes Mr Bingley but does not show it much. This makes Darcy think that Jane is indifferent to Bingley, and is only interested on Bingley s fortune. He makes Bingley go away on a business trip and when Jane goes to stay with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, she goes and visits the Bingleys. She only sees the Bingley sisters, who never tell Mr Bingley about her being in London, so she doesn t have any news from Bingley. After a long time the Bingleys, along with Darcy, return to Netherfield. They visit the Bennets and Mr Bingley still seems to be interested in Jane. Finally he proposes and is accepted.
We are told it is a happy marriage. They have a happy and uncomplicated marriage, though sometimes complicated by other people. They live in Netherfield at first but after a year they want to get away from Mrs Bennet and other relations. So Bingley buys an estate in Derbyshire near Pemberley.
Just as Jane and Bingley, Elizabeth and Darcy also first meet at the Meryton Assembly. They don t feel attracted to each other initially and their relationship doesn t start as smoothly as theirs. Darcy offends Elizabeth. Bingley suggests that Darcy dances with Elizabeth, but Darcy thinks she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt him. Furthermore, he says he is not going to dance with women that have been slighted by other men . Elizabeth overhears this and is not left with many cordial feelings towards him . This makes Elizabeth prejudiced against Darcy. Later on Darcy starts to feel attracted to her. He admires the beautiful expression of her eyes , her figure and above all the playfulness of her character. The stay in Netherfield, when Jane gets sick, shows that Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth despite himself. He seems to enjoy talking to Elizabeth and is beginning to feel the danger of paying too much attention to her. Elizabeth still is prejudiced, but she seems to enjoy the challenge of talking to him. Wickham s story that Darcy refused to keep his father s promise after his death affects her opinion on Darcy.
At the Netherfield Ball Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance. They talk about heir respective characters. They meet again in Kent when Elizabeth goes to visit Charlotte and are sometimes invited to dinner to Rosings. Mr Darcy is there, along with Colonel FitzWilliam, to visit their aunt. Here their relationship develops and Darcy starts to feel attracted to Elizabeth. He enjoys Elizabeth s company and does not get annoyed when she teases him. He thinks they share a similarity. We neither of us perform to strangers. Darcy visits the parsonage when Elizabeth is alone and he makes to meet her in the Rosings Park when she goes for walks. Colonel FitzWilliam tells Elizabeth the Darcy had stopped Bingley from a most imprudent marriage . Elizabeth is very angry indeed with Darcy and blames him for causing her sister great unhappiness.
That same day Darcy proposes to her. He says that he has tried to suppress his feelings but cannot. In vain have I struggled. What made him try to stamp out his love was the inferiority of her family and it would be a degradation for him to marry her. Elizabeth is first astonished then flattered but most of all angry at his proposal. She refuses the proposal. Darcy is taken aback by her refusal. His countenance expressed real security. He wasn t expecting that. He thought Elizabeth would accept because of his rank and money. She explains that she refuses because he has insulted her by saying her family is inferior, because he is responsible for the unhappiness of her sister, because he had behaved very badly towards Wickham, and because Darcy s conduct had been ungentleman-like. The next morning Darcy waits for Elizabeth in the park and gives her a letter. The letter explains why he interfered in the relationship between Bingley and Jane, and the real story about Wickham. He also reveals that Wickham had tried to elope with Darcy s sister, Georgina. When she re-reads the letter it is Wickham s story which starts to make Elizabeth doubt. She then comes to the realisation that Darcy is saying the truth and that she has been mistaken. She had been blind, partial, prejudice, absurd. From now on Elizabeth s attitude to Darcy starts to change. She now feels gratitude and respect for Darcy but does not love him or like him.
When Elizabeth goes with the Gardiners to Derbyshire they visit Pemberley, Darcy s house. The house impresses her. To Elizabeth s acute embarrassment Darcy arrives whilst they are leaving. He is polite towards her. Elizabeth does not know what to think, her feeling towards him are changing rapidly. Elizabeth admits to herself that she no longer hates him, that she is grateful to him and respects him. When Elizabeth receives the news about Lydia s elopement, she is very upset. Coincidentally Darcy arrives immediately after, he is concerned for her and is protective. After Lydia and Wickham had finally got married, and they return to Longbourn before going to Newcastle, Lydia reveals that Darcy had been present at her wedding. It was supposed to have been a secret. Elizabeth writes to her aunt, Mrs Gardiner to find out about Darcy s involvement. Mrs Gardiner s letter confirms Darcy s involvement in getting Lydia and Wickham married. He found them, bribed Wickham into marrying Lydia, and convinced Mr Gardiner to allow him to take care of all financial arrangements. Mr Darcy told the Gardiners he was doing this because he felt responsible, because of his mistaken pride he had not let anybody know about Wickham s real character. Elizabeth feels very grateful. She now acknowledges that she loves him and is very proud of the way e has acted. She feels now that he will never marry her because he could not stand having Wickham for a brother-in-law. Every kind of pride must revolt from the connection.
Shortly after Lydia and Wickham s departure Mr Bingley arrives in Netherfield, and so visits the Bennets accompanied by Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy s behaviour is more reserved. They are both invited to dine at Longbourn and Elizabeth is puzzled by Darcy s behaviour, as he is polite but quite and distant. When Mr Darcy returns to London Elizabeth s hopes fall, she feels he will not propose again.
After Bingley s engagement to Jane, Lady Catherine visits the Bennets unexpectedly. She walks in uninvited and is very rude. She asks to speak to Elizabeth in private and they walk out to a copse in the park to talk. Lady Catherine says she has come because she has heard rumours that Elizabeth is to be engaged to Mr Darcy and is alarmed. She has travelled from Kent to Hertfortshire to stop it. She says Darcy is to marry her daughter because she and the late Mrs Darcy arranged it so, and because that arrangement would be in accordance with the honour of the family. That Elizabeth is of inferior birth, has low connections and is not good enough for Darcy. Even worse her sister Lydia has just been involved in a scandal. Elizabeth picks up the weakness in Lady Catherine s arguments. If you believe it impossible to be true, I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far. She refuses to be intimidated and defends her right to privacy and to make her own decisions, You may ask questions which I may not choose to answer . She declares herself equal to Darcy. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman s daughter; so far we are equal. She refuses to give Catherine an open promise about what she is going to do in the future. When Lady Catherine insults her by saying she will pollute the shades of Pemberly , Elizabeth firmly but politely terminates the conversation. Now Elizabeth wonders what influence will Lady Catherine have on Darcy s decision.
When Darcy visits Longbourn, they go out on a walk and he and Elizabeth get to be on their own. Elizabeth thanks Darcy for saving Lydia. Darcy tells Elizabeth he did it all for her sake. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I though only of you. This leads to the proposal. This second proposal is different to the first one. Darcy is less sure of himself, humble whereas before he was proud. He is considerate towards Elizabeth, anxious not to hurt her feelings. The proposal shows how Darcy has changed, improved, and shed his improper pride. Elizabeth accepts. Both of them are ashamed of their behaviour in Kent when Darcy first proposed. Lady Catherine s interference had the reverse effect of what she had intended. They talk about why Darcy wrote the letter and how it affected Elizabeth. Darcy says that Elizabeth has completed his education. You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you I was properly humbled. After the news of their engagement is broken to their families, Elizabeth and Darcy discuss their relationship. He admits I was in the middle before I knew that I had began . When they marry, they go to live in Pemberley. We are told that it is also a happy marriage. Darcy s sister, Georgiana, learns form the example of Elizabeth and Darcy what a happy marriage is and how a wife can speak to her husband, as an equal. Lady Catherine at first sort of freezes her relationship with the Darcys but then is eventually reconciled and visits Pemberly. Mr Bennet misses her favourite daughter so much, he often visits her unexpectedly.
On the contrary to Jane and Bingley s relationship, Elizabeth and Darcy s relationship is complicated by themselves. They have a complex relationship, they complement each other. They both have enough independence of mind not to follow all social conventions but do have high moral values. They both are intelligent, honest and value the proper behaviour.
Jane Austen says the ideal relationship is Elizabeth and Darcy s relationship. They have similarities but also differences. They love but mostly respect each other. Pride and Prejudice is a love story but does not only reflect the romantic side. It gives you all kinds of relationships; none of them are the same. It shows that the ideal couple was not easy to get. They learned from each other. It makes you question if there will be many couples like that.