Money and Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

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One of the main themes in this novel is that of marriage, and its close relation with money. The novel opens with a famous sentence, that not only shows the underlying humour that the story will contain, but also one of the views on marriage of Austen's time: that money is essential to begin a marriage. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." By saying it is universally acknowledged', we get the impression that marriage is something wanted by all, unlike reality, where there are many people who refuse or are afraid to commit. It also implies that any rich man wants a wife, when actually it is women that want a rich husband, the opposite of what Austen says. By inverting the situation she is continuing with her joking tone, and showing her obvious unhappiness with the way marriages work.

In a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, we begin to understand how their minds work, and we see that the thing foremost in Mrs. Bennett's mind is marriage: ``What is his name?''
``Is he married or single?''
``Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!'' After the first, most obvious question, the next thing that springs to mind for Mr. Bennett is his marital status, as he is only of interest to him if he can wed one of their daughters to him. Mrs. Bennett is also especially interested in his income. The way Mrs. Bennett says Single, my dear, to be sure!' tells me that she thinks it was a ridiculous question to ask, as if they would not even be discussing him if he was married and therefore unavailable to their daughters. When Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, he presumes he will not be refused because he is richer. However, she clearly has very different thoughts to him: "You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the...
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