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Pride And Predjudice- Marriage=Money Essay, Research Paper

19th century England had some serious social problems left over from

the heyday of Royalty and Nobility. One of the most significant of these was

the tendency to marry for money. In this basic equation, a person sought a

spouse based on the dowry receivable and their allowance. This process

went both ways; a beautiful woman might be able to snag a rich husband, or a

charring handsome man could woo a rich young girl. In these marriages,

money was the only consideration. Love was left out, with a feeling that it

would develop as the years went by. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

comments that marriage in her time is a financial contract, where love is

strictly a matter of chance.

Lady Catherine states the fact that happiness in marriage is strictly a

matter of chance. This holds true in the conception of marriage held in the

novel. All of the marriages in the book formed under the bonds of money

rather than the bonds of love end up unhappy or unsuccessful. The whole

novel outlines attempts to dance around love for the combination of a wealthy

person with an attractive person.

The first line of Pride and Prejudice, ?It is a universally acknowledged

fact that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a

wife?, sets the tone for the rest of the novel. We interpret it to mean that a

wealthy man either actively pursues a wife based on his knowledge that no

one would turn down a wealthy suitor, or attractive women use their beauty

to their advantage to attract a rich husband. Confident in his knowledge of

his own wealth and magnificence, Darcy?s less than romantic first proposal to

Elizabeth is a good example of the first of these truths. Darcy marches into

the room, and after stating all the reasons why a wealthy man such as himself

should never marry a ?socially inferior? person such as Elizabeth, he

proposes to her. He is totally confident in the knowledge that no woman

would turn down marriage to a person as rich as himself, no matter how

obnoxious he is. He seems outrightly stunned when Elizabeth refuses him.

This refusal shatters his conception of reality, showing him that money is not

all powerful. This is what seems to throw him head over heels in love with

Elizabeth.

Mrs. Bennett is the embodiment of the second part of the rule. Her

marriage was based on the principal of financial gain, and she desires her

daughters to be the same. She was able to attract Mr. Bennett, a seemingly

sensible and self controlling man, by, ?keeping her mouth shut and smiling a

lot.? Basically stated, she entered their marriage under false pretenses. She

had no real love for him, only a desire to gain financially. Every action taken

by her in the novel is directly intended to undermine her daughters marriages,

guiding them toward financial gain. She is furious when Elizabeth turns down

Collins, as her marriage to him would mean the estate would stay in the

family. She found Darcy most disagreeable, but would have been furious if

Elizabeth had told her the she had turned Darcy’s marriage proposal down.

Charlotte Lucas represents the group entirely left out of this equation.

She has neither extreme beauty nor wealth. She can not even attract a

husband through her wit as Elizabeth does, and so she is basically without

hope for inclusion. Elizabeth is astonished when Charlotte accepts Mr.

Colleen?s marriage proposal, as she does not understand fully Charlottes

predicament. She can not hope for a wealthy and handsome husband like

Elizabeth and Jane can, as she does not have their particular assets. She can

hope at best for security and a degree of comfort.

In conclusion, the essential statement made about marriage in Pride

and Prejudice is that a marriage for money will end up unsuccessful. This is

proved by examples of unsuccessful marriages formed for money, and

successful marriages formed for love.


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