Discuss the Various Attitudes to Marriage and Courtship that Jane Austen presents in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ In Jane Austen’s book ‘Pride and Prejudice’ she shows various attitudes of marriage and courtship through each character. Some of these attitudes to marriage and courtship are very different to the attitudes of most people today. This book is mainly about marriage so it is very easy and interesting to compare the opinions of marriage from the early nineteenth century to life now. Jane Austen mentions marriage for the first time, in Pride and Prejudice, in the very 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. (Chapter 1, page 51) This is possibly the most important quote in the book because it sets the tone for the rest of the novel and it is where we first discover that the book is actually about marriage. Marriage was more of a business arrangement then. For young women it was very important, particularly for the Bennets, that you married a man who was as rich as possible. The amount of money that men had and the lifestyle based on that amount played a very important part in the decision of who to marry.
How much love played a part in the equation was a lot smaller than how much the money did. Mrs Bennet, throughout the book, we can see is a very loud, impolite woman. Her character could be described as being a caricature. We first hear of Mr Charles Bingley when Mrs Bennet is telling her husband, Mr Bennet, about him. We don’t learn too much about him other than the fact that he is very wealthy and he is in the area. Mr Bennet asks at this point to Mrs Bennet if he is married or single. She replies: “Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls! (Chapter 1, page 51) From what Mrs Bennet says we can instantly see that she is very excited at the news of Mr Bingley being in the area. All that she has heard is that he is wealthy and single and she is already picturing him marrying one of her daughters: “You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them. ” (Chapter 1, page 51) We can see that Mrs Bennet’s main aim is to have her daughters married to rich men because while she is trying to inform Mr Bennet of, in her opinion, great news that Mr Bingley has just arrived into the area, Mr Bennet shows no interest, which agitates her further. Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves. ” (Chapter 1, page 52) Elizabeth, however, has different views to marriage compared to her mother. Her opinions of marriage are very much like the opinions of most women today. Of course she takes into account how much money she would have as a result of the marriage but having a rich husband is not all she considers in the decision of marriage. For Elizabeth love has to be included with the marriage no matter how wealthy the husband would be.
Marriage is legally defined and summed up as, a contract made in due form of law, by which a free man and a free woman reciprocally engage to live with each other during their joint lives, in the union which ought to exist between husband and wife. Many liberals argue that gay marriage should be legal in the United States. In the following essay I will attempt to argue why marriage between the ...
This is why she refuses two marriage proposals from Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and Mr Collins later in the book, because – although accepting either marriage would financially improve her lifestyle – she does not love either man. Of course later in the book she does change her mind and fall in love with Mr Darcy. She shows this with various changes of her character and opinion of him throughout the book and later accepts Darcy’s second marriage proposal. This book was set to be in the late 18th century at which social gatherings were particularly important.
Balls and musical evenings were seen as being the centre of social life. These gatherings were great opportunities to find a partner. Jane Bennet first met Mr Bingley at a ball in Meryton. (They later marry).
At the same town ball Elizabeth Bennet first met Mr Darcy too. (They also marry later in the novel).
... usual, he isn't alone.Darcy is with him. Bingley succeeds in avoiding Mrs. Bennet by taking Jane, Elizabeth and Kitty out for a walk ... 't stop telling him that she knew he would visit Bingley. [Chapter 3]The girls hear from their neighbour, Lady Lucas, what ...
At this point in the novel, however, Elizabeth does not love or even like Mr Darcy. Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. (Chapter 3, page 59) This was quoted just after Elizabeth overheard Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley talking at the ball.
Mr Bingley was trying to persuade Mr Darcy to dance with somebody and suggested specifically for him to dance with Elizabeth. He, however, did not think that she was good enough for him: “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me;…” (Chapter 3, page 59) This signifies that Mr Darcy does not appreciate women that are of a much lower class than him. He would rather not marry a poor woman. Unfortunately for him he falls in love with Elizabeth later. During chapter seven Jane Bennet receives a letter from Caroline Bingley inviting Miss Bennet out to lunch.
In the late 18th century women were very delicate in comparison to women today. They were delicate in that, for example, if they were in the heat for too long they would feel headachy or faint. Mrs Bennet obviously knew this because, when Jane asked for the carriage, Mrs Bennet deliberately said no: “No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night. ” (Chapter 7, page 77) This quote proves the point that ladies during this time wanted nothing more than to have their daughters married, Mrs Bennet in particular.
She is willing to risk her daughter’s health and actually wants her daughter to feel ill so she can stay the night at Mr Bingley’s house rather than just go out for lunch. It shows how far Mrs Bennet is willing to push her daughters into the path of suitable men in order to secure a good marriage. Later in the chapter, when we find out that Jane in fact does have to stay the night due to feeling ill, Elizabeth decides to visit her but intends on walking to Mr Bingley’s house instead of using the carriage. Mrs Bennet claims that it is a foolish idea and will not be fit to be seen when she arrives. Elizabeth replies: I shall be very fit to see Jane – which is all I want. ” (Chapter 7, page 78) This quote supports the fact that Elizabeth has no intention of trying to impress the Bingleys or Mr Darcy by the way she looks. The opinions of her are very modern in terms of marriage so she does not really care for what she looks like. Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley both think of Elizabeth as quite disgusting at this point. It brought them great shock when she arrived in her ‘dirty stockings’ (Chapter 7, page 79).
The story begins with the Bennet family in their estate, Longbourn in Hertfordshire, a rural district about thirty miles from London. Mrs. Bennet tells her husband about Mr. Bingley who is moving into their neighborhood. She hopes he will end up marrying one of her daughters because her main " goal" in life is to see her daughters married. Mr. Bingley is a rich and handsome man with little self- ...
When Elizabeth goes to go check on Jane after dinner Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley can’t help but ‘abuse her’ (Chapter 8, page 81) as soon as she leaves.
Mrs Hurst says: “I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She looked almost wild. ” (Chapter 8, page 81) The contrast of opinions of Elizabeth and Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley again shows how much more modern Elizabeth is compared to every other lady in the novel. We soon meet Mr Collins. Jane Austen has written Mr Collins to have a very exaggerated personality or character of smug pomposity making him, like Mrs Bennet another caricature. During chapter 19 he proposes to Elizabeth: “…I singled you out as the companion of my future life.
But before I am run away with by my feelings for this subject, perhaps it will be advisable for me to state reasons for marrying -” (Chapter 19, page 147) Mr Collins continues to speak of why he has chosen to propose. He claims that the church says it is a good idea to get married so he would simply be setting an example for other people. He also claims that it would bring him happiness and that Catherine de Bourgh, his benefactor, wishes for him to be married also. He then goes on to say what would happen when they were to be married. Elizabeth interrupts him: “You are too hasty, Sir, “ she cried. You forget that I have made no answer. (Chapter 19, page 148) Indeed, Elizabeth is right. Mr Collins has not waited for Elizabeth to even agree to the marriage but is already referring to what he predicts will happen in the future when they supposedly get married. He does this because he expects her to accept the marriage proposal. The idea of Elizabeth rejecting Mr Collins’ marriage proposal was alien to him. If Elizabeth was to accept the proposal then she would have a better life financially so in that time there was not a great deal of reason for her to reject the proposal.
When she does reject the proposal he doesn’t seem to believe it, declaring: “…it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour… sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. ” (Chapter 19, page 148) He clearly thinks that all women initially refuse a proposal so as not to appear too eager or too desperate to get married when in fact that is their intention all along. This is why he goes on to express his confidence that he will eventually lead her to the altar.
Marriage is a complicated thing that is effected by many things. People let things stand in the way of marrying the person they love. Circumstances sometimes determine whether marriage is appropriate or even possible. The same is true with Queen Elizabeth. She did was she thought was best for herself and her country. Queen Elizabeth I was tempted by many things but refused to marry for the good of ...
Elizabeth again declines the proposal but Mr Collins will not have it. He again states his belief of women not wanting to sound too eager by accepting a proposal. Elizabeth again declines the offer before Mr Collins tries to persuade her to marry him. Jane Austen shows by this, how women were expected to accept proposals if it would financially improve their life. Jane Austen also shows how the modernisation of the character Elizabeth affects the other characters such as Mr Collins and his disbelief of her rejection.
A few days after this Mr Collins proposes to Charlotte Lucas. For this moment, the meaning of the first sentence of the novel seems defensible. Unlike Elizabeth she accepts the proposal. The views of this between Mrs Bennet, Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet are all very different. The prospect of financial security outweighs any romance or love for Mr Collins’ character according to Charlotte Lucas: “I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home;” (Chapter 22, page 165) Charlotte Lucas and her family view the proposal as a triumph.
This quote shows how Charlotte Lucas’ opinion of marriage is not modern like Elizabeth’s. Elizabeth views this as disappointing. She thinks that it is ridiculous that Charlotte would marry for such a reason as to financially improve her lifestyle. Mrs Bennet is also disappointed but at Elizabeth. She blames her child for letting such a great opportunity slip through the family’s fingers. When Mr Bennet dies, Mr Collins will own his estate. Now that he is to marry Charlotte Lucas instead of Elizabeth they cannot save it. This thought brings Mrs Bennet more distress. When Kitty and Lydia first ind out they think of it as nothing more than gossip as Mr Collins is ‘only a clergyman’ (Chapter 23, page 168).
Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth has a vital importance in the novel and could be described as signalling a turning point. Darcy is exceedingly rich and earns ? 10,000 a year. If Darcy were to propose to anyone other than Elizabeth they would probably agree to the marriage due to the large sum of money he receives per year. Elizabeth however rejects him! This truly does show how her opinion is different in comparison to other women in terms of marriage.
To Say or Not to Say: Letters and Letter Writings Seen in Pride and Prejudice Quite frequently in her novels, Jane Austen uses letter writing between characters to explain past events and the exact nature of people's roles in them. It is these letters that always offer great insight into a character's true nature; which, often times, is not what it appears to be. It is this tactic that is ...
Elizabeth informs Darcy about her knowledge of Wickham and Jane and Bingley, justifying her reasons to reject his proposal. We can tell that he is shocked at this: His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. (Chapter 34, page 222) His anger signifies that he was not expecting rejection. Mr Darcy is described in the book many times as being very proud and snobby. He must find it exceedingly confusing as to why a lady with such a poor background and family would reject his proposal, as he believes that he is quite magnificent.
However his loyalty to his friend Mr Bingley allows us to forget the arrogance when he gives Elizabeth a letter the following morning explaining that he did not believe that Jane loved Bingley, and that he thought that if Bingley was to propose to her then he would make a fool of himself. He merely was trying to protect Bingley he claims. When Elizabeth visits Darcy’s estate with the Gardiners to her surprise Darcy is there despite the fact that she had been told he would be out of town until the following day. After a few conversations between them Elizabeth thinks: “Why is he so altered?
From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me, it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me. ” (Chapter 43, page 276) Elizabeth ponders to herself as to whether Darcy loves her still or not. She is wondering how it is that, after her rudeness when she rejected his proposal, he can appear to be so nice and polite to her and the Gardiners. She considers the fact that he may still love her, as he is more gentlemanly than she has ever seen him to be. This shows how much love he has for Elizabeth.
You could also look at it from the point of view that he is fighting for Elizabeth by trying to flatter her. He does in fact propose to her again later in the novel. Lydia is well aware of the attitudes of courtship and marriage but because she is so besotted with Mr Wickham later in the novel she forgets all of the rules and elopes with him. The family are so shocked and disgusted at the behaviour of Lydia (and Wickham).
In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth first encounter at the ball in Meryton. Not such of a good impression they had on each other. Darcy’s first opinion is well understood as he says, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”(Page 8) As Elizabeth overhears his critical comment, she dislikes Darcy in that very moment for being so proud and full of himself. As Darcy is being ...
Even Elizabeth who has more modern views on courtship and marriage is worried how Lydia’s misbehaviour will reflect on her family and what its consequences will be for her relationship with Darcy.
When she hears of Lydia’s elopement she tells Darcy that she is “distressed by some dreadful news” (Chapter 46, page 294) and Darcy’s response is to declare that he is “grieved – shocked. ” (Chapter 46, 295).
Elizabeth soon observed, and instantly understood it. Her power was sinking; every thing must sink under such a proof of family weakness, such an assurance of the deepest disgrace. (Chapter 46, page 295) This shows how truly embarrassed Elizabeth was. Her views on everything are so modern compared to most ladies and gentlemen in the 18th century however this even shocked her.
We find out that Lydia and Wickham agree to get married later in the novel. The reactions of her family are very predictable. Mrs Bennet is so overjoyed that Lydia is getting married at such a young age that she forgets about her disgusting behaviour. Jane hopes they have a happy life together. Elizabeth is happy that they are marrying but is disappointed at Lydia’s behaviour. Mr Bennet is angry at Lydia for putting the family in the situation of having to give the Gardiners money. Lydia is so happy with herself because of her marriage that she is completely taking advantage of it all.
She says to Jane: “Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman. ” (Chapter 51, page 329) Lydia and her mother are very alike in terms of how excited and proud they are to the fact that Lydia is now married. They are both very proud so Lydia in this chapter tries to find any way she can to show off the fact that she is married. When Darcy proposes to Elizabeth the second time, ironically it is all due to the fact that Lady Catherine de Bourgh visited Elizabeth and tried to force them apart.
When Lady Catherine told Darcy he was delighted that Elizabeth refused to promise to turn down a proposal from him if he was to make one. Of course Elizabeth accepts the proposal. Darcy and Elizabeth have a joint wedding with Jane and Bingley. To conclude, one of the main features of Jane Austen’s writing is to carefully set out how young ladies should behave in the late 18th century. In ‘Pride and Prejudice’, by using a ‘heroine’ such as Elizabeth she gives an alternative and possibly more modern view of behaviour. In this novel, Elizabeth’s views on marriage are particularly modern.