Jane Austen’s Presentation of the Marriage in “Pride and Prejudice” Essay

“Marriage then, ideally is a love match, and still ideally, more is involved – the character and fortune of the lover.” Consider Jane Austen’s presentation of the marriage in Pride and Prejudice. Do any of the marriages fit Austen’s ideal?”It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” The narrator impersonates the view of most women in the 19th century, that rich men wanted a pretty, young wife. The phrase ‘universally acknowledged’ implies that it was the view of everybody and nobody disagrees with this statement. Most women in the 1800’s thought it was best to marry for fortune and security but Jane Austen presents how marrying for love makes a much more ideal marriage.

Austen’s ideal marriage consists of love for one another, a match of characters and a fortune to sustain the couple. There are six marriages to look at in the novel. Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham, Charlotte and Mr. Collins, Mr.

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and Mrs. Bennet and Mr. and Mrs.

Gardiner. Austen examines each of the marriages throughout the book and compares them to one another. We see that there are three ideal marriages, in Austen’s viewpoint, and three non-ideal marriages.Elizabeth detests Darcy, throughout the first half of the book, because of his pride and her prejudice, it makes her blind to the fact that he is really a good man; it also makes her unaware of his affection for her. So when he proposes she is ‘all astonishment’. But after she is aware of his feelings, she begins to see his true character and she then sees that they are a perfect match for each other. When she starts to get to know him she sees that he is not as proud and conceited as she first thought, though he is proper and he comes across as quite shy at times.Darcy and Elizabeth are in love and their characters match perfectly.

“He was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her.” (chapter 50) Mr. Darcy is quick witted and smart, rather like Lizzy.

Mr. Bennet makes a comment at the beginning of the novel; he says that Elizabeth is his only sensible daughter. “They are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.” (chapter 1) Lizzy is Mr. Bennet’s favourite child because she is quite like him in her personality and wit. Darcy and Lizzy support one another in humor and quickness, they are both caring people and they balance each other out. In Jane Austen’s view, it is an ideal marriage because as well as Love and a match in characters the marriage provides security and wealth for Elizabeth.

Their marriage is practical, because Mr. Darcy has a large fortune and Elizabeth will be secure.As Elizabeth rides through the grounds of Pemberley, Austen describes what she sees. “The eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House..

.it was a large, handsome, stone building..

.and in front, a stream of natural importance…but without any artificial appearance.

” (chapter 43) This description reflects the owner of the estate’s personality and appearance perfectly. Mr. Darcy is a man of varied personality; he is far from simple. When he came to the Netherfield ball his strong, gentlemanly build and his handsome face instantly caught everyone’s attention.

“Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features and noble mein.” (chapter 3)Similarly Jane and Bingley’s relationship is based upon love and happiness.

Bingley was first attracted to Jane because of her beauty and agreeability. “She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld!” (chapter 3) Bingley and Jane fall in love the moment they see each other and because neither can see a fault in anyone, they fit together perfectly. Jane and Bingley are both happy, cheerful people and they enjoy one another’s company so match in characters. Bingley earns over �5,000 per annum, so Jane and Bingley’s marriage could also be seen as an ideal in Austen’s point of view.In contrast to both of these marriages, Lydia’s choice of partner converses with the typical choice of marriage partner for women in the regency period. Mr. Wickham is in a lot of debt because he is a gambler and though he is an agreeable man at first, he is deceitful and he does not love Lydia. “Wickham’s affection for Lydia, was.

..not equal to Lydia’s for him” (chapter 51) Austen originally named the novel ‘First Impressions’ because the characters opinions of each other change from when they first meet to when they get to know each other better.

When the Bennet’s and the rest of the town’s people meet Mr. Wickham, they think him very agreeable and pleasant but after hearing about what he did to Darcy and his sister, Elizabeth changes her opinion of him, but remains pleasing towards him, as he becomes her brother-in-law. Elizabeth remarks that it would not be possible for Lydia to have a happy, functional marriage with him. “But how little of permanent happiness could belong to such a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture.” (chapter 50) Wickham and Lydia do not have love, a match of characters or a fortune, so in Austen’s opinion, cannot have an ideal marriage.Charlotte has a very typical ’19th century’ view of marriage.

“It was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.” She believes that marriage is solely for security and wealth and does not believe character and love have anything to do with a good marriage. “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” She accepted Mr.

Collins “solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment.” There was no matter of love involved in their relationship and Charlotte believes that his ‘attachment to her must be imaginary’ because he was apparently in love with Lizzy just a little while before.Though Charlotte does not love Mr. Collins, it provides a secure future for her. Charlotte tells Lizzy that she encourages Mr. Collins to stay in the gardens, and away from her, as much as possible. She does not enjoy his company but does not regret marrying him.Similarly Mr.

Bennet conceals himself in his study, away from his wife. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s marriage started off well but soon Mr. Bennet, who was only attracted to Mrs. Bennet’s beauty, grew tired of her. “Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humor..

..had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her.” Mr.

Bennet’s personality clashes with Mrs. Bennet’s. He is sarcastic, calm and quick-witted but she is easily teased and very panicky. They have a dysfunctional marriage right from the beginning of the novel, “The experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.”, and this influences their children. Elizabeth is determined to have a good marriage with a match of character but Lydia has turned out just like her mother and ends up in a dysfunctional marriage as well.Mr. and Mrs.

Gardiner’s marriage is Austen’s third ideal marriage. They are very much in love and they are not poor. They get on well with each other and are very happy together. They are role models for Lizzy and Jane, who are the only one’s sensible enough to see that theirs is a good marriage. Elizabeth and Darcy stayed on intimate terms with them after they were married. “They were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who..

.had been the means of uniting them. (chapter 61) They are a sensible couple, not loud or obnoxious like Lydia but calm and happy.

In conclusion, there are three ideal marriages out of the six in Austen’s view. Elizabeth and Darcy, because they have love, a match of characters and a large fortune; Jane and Bingley, because they are also in love, Bingley is a fairly rich man, and they are both happy together; and the Gardiner’s, because they are happily married, with no visible faults. Austen presents these, as lasting marriages because they are based on love, a match of characters and a fortune. If you take away any one of these things, in Austen’s point of view, it cannot be an ideal marriage. For example, if you have a couple with a lot of money but no love for each other, the marriage will not be a good one because Austen’s ideal includes affection for each other.


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