Marriage in the 1800s Through Jane Austen's Eyes

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Marriage is probably one of the most important themes in the book. Sure, there are a lot of feelings, emotions, and secret intentions involved, too, but their purpose in this book is to be associated with marriage. In Austen’s world one must possess certain qualities that determine their marriage. Money, social status, family relationships, and personal qualities are the ones shown in Pride and Prejudice. There are also various pressures, temptations, needs, intentions that drive people into forming unpleasant relationships. Jane Austen uses the theme of marriage as a tool to describe, criticize, and satirize the way people during her time considered the meaning this relationship.

Money, one of the major driving forces for Austen’s society in Pride and Prejudice, governs the way marriages are determined. Throughout the book it can be seen that both the potential husband and wife seek certain amount of money in their “soul mates”. Material possession is also never overlooked by the parents or patrons of the couples. Sometimes the lack of such can be a harbinger to a plausible marriage, as it is the case with the Bennets, where Mrs. Bennet is convinced that a “single man of large fortune;” with an income of “four or five thousand a year” would be such a “fine thing” for her poor girls” (6). With the Bennets there is also the problem with the state law, which restricts them from the right to split the heritage between their female children. This is exactly how the necessity for marriage becomes an obsession for the parents, as they struggle to find a prospective match for their daughters. Others, Mr. Wickham for example, search for fortune in their “beloved” ones just to satisfy their greedy lust for money, as well as other secret intentions. This is what the reader learns when Mr. Darcy reveals the truth behind his past “Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sisters’ fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds; but I cannot help supposing that the hope of...
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