Pride And Prejudice 9 Essay, Research Paper
In the novel Pride and Prejudice, the different perceptions of marriage play major roles in the outcomes of the character’s lives. Jane Austin uses the different characters to show the varying opinions on marriage. Even though the novel shows how a mismatched couple’s marriage can have a horrible outcome, it also emphasizes that marrying for love can succeed. The different perceptions of marriage are contrasted in those of Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins and Elizabeth Bennet.
Many people in England during this time married solely for financial purposes and it was not looked down upon by others. The opening line of the novel portrays this thought perfectly, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a god fortune must be in want of a wife.”(p. 1). Mrs. Bennet is the prime example of a character having this opinion in this novel. The purpose of her life is to get her daughters married quickly and into a wealthy family. Even though her own marriage has failed (after marrying for money), she still wishes her daughters to do the same. This desire for her daughter to marry for money can be a form of greed. If her daughters do not marry into wealthy families she knows she will not continue in her present comfortable lifestyle.
Mr. Collins has a completely different reason for marriage than simple financial. While proposing to Elizabeth for the first time he states that “…I think it a right for every clergyman in easy circumstances … to set the example of matrimony in his parish.”(p. 91). Further offending Elizabeth he continues to say that “…that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honor of calling patroness.”. Mr. Collins is referring to Lady Catherine De Bourgh whom Elizabeth despises. He makes no qualms about seeking marriage purely to support his social status. Elizabeth readily refuses him. He continues his pursuit of his concept of marriage by proposing to Charlotte Lucas. For equally shallow reasons Charlotte accepts. Charlotte like Mrs. Bennet sees marriage as a financial opportunity. Being the wife of a parson could be a economic success for her. Obviously, their marriage is without foundation. Mr. Collins position on marriage is ridiculous. His only concern is the outward appearance of the marriage for his social status. He did not have a spiritual, moral or emotional basis for marrying Charlotte. To him, his obligation to his marriage was little more than a legal contract. Charlotte views the marriage in terms of acquisition of property with the avoidance of her husband as much as possible.
When it came to the perception of marriage Elizabeth was a cynic. She saw all around her the weak, dishonest reasons for entering a marriage. She had turned down proposals because of her established prejudices. “…your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike;”. Having turned down proposals from Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham she was equally prepared to (and did) turn down Mr. Darcy’s initial marriage proposal. She could not see the sincerity of his action. It was only after realizing that Mr. Darcy was indeed a kind and generous fellow that Elizabeth was able to appreciate her prejudices and overcome them. It is ironic the with family experiences with marriage she was able to succeed in a happy marriage.