In Jane Austen's, Pride and Prejudice, the theme of marriage and the evolving role it plays in the lives of women in the 1800th century is very distinct. Women had few choices in the direction their lives were to take. Due to a process called entailing, if the father of a family did not have a son, his property, upon his death would be given to a male relative on his side of the family, instead of his wife or daughters. For this reason, a woman's role was to marry higher up than they, despite having any romantic feelings for the person or not, so that they would be provided for in the future. Anything the woman owned became the property of the husband, upon marriage. Jane Austen oversteps the boundaries for her time in presenting new ideas in the men and women of her novel. Through exploring the characters of Mrs. Bennett, Mr. Collins, Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. Bingley, Lydia, Mr. Wickham, Ms. Lucas and Mr. Darcy in the novel, we will see how each contributes to both the old and new ideas of marriage in the 1800's. In order to do this we need to first understand the character of each person to be explored.
When Jane is introduced to Mr. Bingley who shows her much attention, Mrs. Bennet was sure that they would be married, despite the young girls financial and social status and is quite vocal about it to all those around her. As was standard etiquette for this time, men had to be introduced to a woman by a mutual friend. According to an online source, "If permission "to call" was granted, the visit was well-chaperoned and the couple said "goodnight" at the parlor door. Three months between the announcement of the engagement and the actual wedding was considered suitable (Family Chronicle)." Jane Austen seems to use the character of Mrs. Bennet to reflect how ones social status has an impact on the entire family. Mrs. Bennet was desperate to get her girls married because, "an unmarried female was... [continues]
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