Pride And Prejudice - Marriage

?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